By Matt Tullos
Stewardship development specialist, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
In the Go Fund Me era, it’s easy to minimize the Cooperative Program. We get so caught up in the daily grind of ministry and we forget all the things that the make the Cooperative Program shine so brightly in a dark world. It begs the question, “What would your church, Tennessee, and the world look like without CP?” Here are a few uncomfortable realities.
Without the Cooperative Program, we would be saying:
(1) “Missionaries, support yourself.” About 3,600 international missionaries would be spending a great chunk of their time and energy preparing presentations to your local church requesting individual support so they can do what they were really called to do. Lots of churches around the world wouldn’t exist because of their church planter’s need to come home to raise support. When we give through CP, we are allowing these great servants to do what God called them to do without the constant tug of fund raising.
(2) “Adios, BCMs.” Baptist Student Ministries across the state would have to close their doors. Has there ever been a time when we needed them more on our campuses? Absolutely not. Through CP we are giving the next generation the opportunity to experience Jesus in the most pivotal moment in their lives.
(3) “Sorry about the hurricane. We wish we could help. But you’re in our prayers.” Disaster Relief relies on CP for training and support. People would struggle and those hit hardest would never hear the gospel in their time of greatest need. No equipment. No training. No support.
(4) “Glad you feel called to pastor, but this is going to be expensive.” Because we support amazing seminaries and through the funds provided by the Cooperative Program, few grads will start their ministry career with student loans.
(5) “We don’t have a place for you.” The Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home would cease to exist. No room, no counseling, no support.
(6) “You’re starting a church in the inner city? That’s great, but we can’t help you.” Through the Cooperative Program we are funding new church plants in areas that need the Good News.
(7) “We sure hope some Tennessee universities will hire Christians to teach the next generation because we can’t afford to help our two universities who offer a Christian worldview.” Carson Newman and Union do just that, and it would be a lot more difficult to offer degrees without your church’s CP gifts.
(8) “Really, we only support people who look like us.” In other words, we wouldn’t provide resources, training and financial support for those people who are starting new works to reach all the people groups across Tennessee.
(9) “Sorry we can’t help your church grow. Try YouTube.” We’d lose the ability to train, support, and partner with churches with face-to-face help to revitalize declining churches and offer training, coaching and strategies to every church in Tennessee.
(10) Finally, we would be saying, “We give up. The task is too big. The enemy is too pervasive. We just want to stay in our holy huddles and comfort each other.”
If we minimized our giving through the Cooperative Program, we’d be saying these things and lots more. It took a strong stomach to even type these 10 statements because they are so unlike the Southern Baptists I know and love. Our hope is that Tennessee Baptist churches will kick it up a notch and see what God will do with their sacrifice and generosity! To those churches who are giving 10 percent or more we say, “Thank you! We promise to treat your gifts as God’s money to do God’s work.” For those churches who are giving a smaller portion we are saying, “Thank you for giving! We are so thankful you are on board. We hope you’ll consider walking with us in faith just a little bit more.”
Let’s try to kick it up a notch and see what happens. B&R