Editor’s Note: View the Cooperative Program video featuring Todd Stinnett at tnbaptist.org/CP or see below.
By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
Indeed, Stinnett, the pastor of Black Oak Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville, said churches need to understand the importance of the concept of “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts” in regard to the Cooperative Program.
“I love being a Tennessee Baptist — a Southern Baptist — because we can come together and put all of our resources together,” said Stinnett. “We can do a whole lot more together than we can separately.”
Stinnett said he believes the Cooperative Program defines what Southern Baptists are all about, and he believes those from other denominations often recognize that.
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Stinnett said he has a close friend in the ministry who came from a non-Southern Baptist background but has since joined the SBC. “He said to me, ‘The reason I became Southern Baptist is that I realized that Southern Baptists cooperated with one another, and they could work together,’ ” said Stinnett.
Stinnett cited some examples of just how big the CP’s impact can be, especially compared to one church working exclusively.
“(At our church), we are able to do a lot of things locally, and we do much ministry here,” he said. “But when we come together with Tennessee Baptists and Southern Baptists, we’re able to do much more ministry than we ever possibly could by ourselves.
“We might be able to keep five or 10 missionaries on a foreign mission field, maybe,” he said. “But when we come together with Southern Baptists, we can keep 3,500 foreign missionaries out on the field. We can keep missionaries all over North America.”
Stinnett said he enjoys being able to rejoice with his congregation about the impact that their giving is having in Tennessee — and well beyond.
“For us, it’s just a tremendous blessing to know that when I stand before the people on Sundays and Wednesdays, I can say, ‘You are actually funding missionary work all over the world,’ ” he said.
Stinnett’s church has a rich legacy of making a difference for Christ. The church has been guided by numerous renowned “heroes of the faith” since it first opened its doors in 1946.
“We have a great history,” Stinnett said. “The church has had some great pastors — men like Jack Parrot and Mike Rammage — who laid a great foundation here.”
Although the church is proud of its heritage, the congregation is not satisfied to sit still and simply celebrate the past. Rather, the church is continually looking for ways to reach the nation — and the world — for Christ, he said.
Closer to home, Stinnett said the church has numerous ministries designed to reach the greater Knoxville area, which consists of people from all different walks of life and economic backgrounds.
“Right here in our community, we have needs and distress,” he said.
Stinnett said he feels strongly about the importance of the Cooperative Program, which has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.
“I am a product of the Cooperative Program,” he said, noting that he grew up in a church that “was heavily impacted by the Cooperative Program.” He said it has shaped his life in numerous ways.
“I got to go to places like Camp Carson when I was a kid, and have all those experiences, things that I would not have been able to do unless Tennessee Baptists and others had come together and pulled their money together,” he said. “And then, I went to the University of Tennessee, graduated there, and then went to Southeastern Seminary, and much of my tuition was paid by the Cooperative Program.”
“So, from my infancy all the way to now, 40 years old in the pastorate, I’ve been blessed and touched by the Cooperative Program,” he said.
Stinnett said his church, which is about to move to a new location, will continue to put a high priority on giving through the Cooperative Program. He said the church has experienced substantial growth in recent years, and plans to increase its CP giving by one percent in the coming year.
“That (might not) sound like a lot … but when you start thinking that it could be thousands and thousands of dollars, that (results in) many more people that could be touched with the Gospel of Christ,” he said. “So, that’s just a great encouragement for us as a church to know that if we can put more money to the Cooperative Program, more people could know that Jesus is alive.”