Giving and going work hand in hand at Russellville Baptist Church in East Tennessee
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist & Reflector
Editor’s Note: View the Cooperative Program video featuring Gene Nelson at tnbaptist.org/CP.
The church’s missions statement, Nelson said, is: “Seeking to go beyond ourselves and our walls in fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.”
He said that means it is imperative for the church to go “beyond the walls of the church into the community, the city, and places where those people won’t come to us.”
Russellville Baptist has been involved in local ministry and disaster relief as well as other Kingdom ministries internationally, Nelson said. When members see ministry being done locally, it helps them understand better the church’s commitment to the Cooperative Program, he said. “They can grasp how missionaries can do the same thing (on the missions field) with the resources we give them through the Cooperative Program that we’re doing here in our community.”
The desire to go beyond its walls goes hand in hand with the church’s commitment to give through the Cooperative Program, he observed.
Cooperative Program giving facilitates missions at Russellville Baptist, affirmed Nelson, who is a strong believer that the church should be a “tithing, 10 percent Cooperative Program church. And, God is blessing that as we seek to get there,” he continued.
“How can you ask your congregation to tithe if your church is not tithing to missions? How can you ask them to come alongside and give their resources if the church is not giving of its resources (through the Cooperative Program)?”
Nelson acknowledged that he is well aware that at times budgets are “tight. But, missions is our commission. It’s our challenge. Christ gave us the commission to go and teach, and to me, that’s non-negotiable. To me, that’s a fixed expense that we have to set aside and we have to be committed to.”
The Russellville pastor observed that the church’s commitment to missions through giving and going over its history has recently resulted in one of their own former members (who was reared in the church and felt called to missions at Russellville Baptist) and her husband recently being appointed as International Mission Board missionaries.
Because of the church’s history with the Cooperative Program, church members know without a doubt that their “Cooperative Program money will help support them on the field,” Nelson said.
The church is very proud of this couple. They see them as an extension of their ministry, the pastor continued. “They realize they have an impact. We are praying for them.” In addition, the church hopes to send a missions team to their field of service in the future.
Russellville members see how their Cooperative Program funds are used to support them — to give them a place to live, to give them a vehicle and funds for living expenses, Nelson explained. “They can see the Cooperative Program lived out through the missionary they have sent.”
This couple is just one example of how a church can have a global impact by sending out missionaries through the Cooperative Program. “It is just one example of how a church, no matter the size, can make an impact for the gospel and the Kingdom of God.”