By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist & Reflector
JACKSON — Jordan Easley is passionate about the Cooperative Program.
And, he’s eager to share that passion with younger pastors throughout Tennessee and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Easley, senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church, Jackson, for the past three-and-a-half years, also serves as chairman of the Young Leader Advisory Council for Frank Page, president of the SBC’s Executive Committee.
Easley noted that Englewood Baptist has been in existence for 68 years and it has supported the Cooperative Program since day one. “It’s great to be part of a church that has a legacy like that and a foundation that is based on strong giving and living out the Great Commission.”
He observed that about 10 years ago the church “froze” the amount they had been giving through the Cooperative Program and it had not increased giving during that time. A few months ago he met with the church’s finance committee and challenged them to do more.
Though the church has a strong Cooperative Program legacy, Easley noted the church was willing to ask, “How can we do more?”
“We’re not just content with what we’ve done in the past, but we want to go into the future asking the question, ‘How can we be maximized in this pivotal time, in this crucial time in our history, and how can we make the most of what God has blessed us with as a body?’ ”
He said Englewood members want “to see the world won for Christ and they believe it’s possible not because we’re so great, but because God is so great and He has put us in a place where we can be a part of what He is doing.”
Easley stressed that it does not matter how large Englewood Baptist is, how many resources they have, or how many dollars come into the church. “We, as one church, will never be able to maximize our missions giving and our missions efforts unless we lock arms with our brothers and sisters and do this through the Cooperative Program,” he said.
The Jackson pastor observed that most people will agree that churches can do more together than any one church can do alone. “But it’s really more than a mantra. It’s a strategy.”
Easley said there is a spiritual battle going on in the world as Christians try to make disciples and reach people who have never heard the gospel. “Why would we even attempt to do this by ourselves when God has placed us with great churches and great leaders around the world?
“For me, the Cooperative Program is more than me being committed to a denominational thing. It’s more about me being committed to the Great Commission and believing that God has placed us together for such a time as this.”
Easley also stressed that when Cooperative Program dollars leave his church, some of them go to ministries in Tennessee and even back to Jackson to Union University where future missionaries, pastors, and worship leaders are being trained. “When our people understand that their dollars are making an impact right here at home and around the world, I think they’re excited to give.”
Sadly, Easley is well aware that he is a minority among younger pastors today in the Southern Baptist Convention. He cited a survey sent to 3,000 pastors and leaders under the age of 40. Of those who responded, about 80 percent did not have a clue about the Cooperative Program.
“We have a lot of young pastors and leaders who are coming up as Southern Baptists and they’re not passionate about the Cooperative Program because they don’t know about it.”
Educating people about the Cooperative Program is critical. He encourages young pastors to learn more about the Cooperative Program channel of funding missions and ministries and discover how those dollars are “being used around the world.” When people discover how the Cooperative Program is impacting lives in their own state and around the world, “you can’t help but get excited about the Cooperative Program,” Easley observed.
Easley is excited about the potential of the Cooperative Program and he is trying to get others excited as well.
“We have an army that has been mobilized through this thing called the Cooperative Program and I believe that God has us strategically in this place, not to just give, but to give with great expectation, great faithfulness, and great sacrifice.”