Point of View: Cooperative Program helps us stay on task
by JOHN SULLIVAN
Executive Director-Treasurer

Article Date: May 23, 2014

It was my joy to be a member of the Ad-Hoc Cooperative Program Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention which made a final report in February 2006. We spent many hours in prayer and study, creating an excellent report.

In the preface to the report, in the first paragraph we wrote, “Southern Baptists have always been a missional people. From the inception of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 we have always rallied around the command of Christ to carry the Gospel to the entire world. At the heart of our local churches, and of all organizations and agencies beyond the local church, is the desire to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Cooperative Program was implemented to give each Southern Baptist a way to be a part of reaching the world for Christ through their local church. Sadly, we too often have allowed our focus to become ingrown and diverted from our evangelistic responsibility. Most of the strategies and initiatives in this report focus on telling the story of what we are currently doing through the Cooperative Program, but we must not fall into the trap of thinking we can reposition the Cooperative Program in the hearts of Southern Baptists by focusing only on what we are accomplishing.”

It is my firm conviction that no group of churches, para-church groups or individuals have had a passion to take the gospel to the world as much as Southern Baptists. The challenge has always been big— now more than ever. In our search for “best ways” to accomplish the Great Commission, I am convinced and convicted that God gave us the Cooperative Program.
 
The primary focus of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 has not changed. It was decided our dollars primarily would support missions and theological education. This overwhelming passion still manifests itself, especially since the creation of the Cooperative Program in 1925. 
 
Today, 95.36 percent of SBC Cooperative Program dollars fund missions and theological education. Or, $181,614,400 of the $191.5 million CP budget is earmarked for the International and North American Mission Boards and six Southern Baptist seminaries.  What a tribute to those who have led across the years.
 
We have stayed on task—God-given and missions-driven!
 
Any time you “raise” dollars for missions and education, the grace factor must be present. This will keep us in harmony with the will of God and stimulate our loyalty to do more. Giving dollars for the work of Christ is not a troublesome obligation, it is a privilege and opportunity that inclines our lives to higher purpose.
 
Here are a few of my deepest thoughts and feelings about the Cooperative Program:
 
 The Cooperative Program makes visible the unifying spirit of a common commitment.
 
 The Cooperative Program offers us a channel to give to the edge of our abilities.
 
 The Cooperative Program allows us to do what Southern Baptists have always sought to do: go into all the world; all the time; with all the gospel; at the same time.
 
 The Cooperative Program is God-given and missions-driven and allows every believer in our churches to be part of a world-wide missions delivery system.
 
Click HERE for more information on the Cooperative Program.

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