By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
I love good popcorn, but not necessarily the microwave variety.
In my household, I usually am the one designated to make popcorn. I use a deep pot with a lid on the stove top. I place oil and butter in the pot and let the butter melt into the oil. Then I place the popcorn kernels into the mixture.
At first, not much happens. The kernels float in the oil and butter as it gets hotter and hotter. Then, one by one, the kernels begin to pop.
Slowly but surely the once dormant kernels turn into fluffy popcorn. As all the kernels are popped, they gradually rise to the top of the pot. Before you know it, the popcorn has lifted the lid off the pot (you better have bowl in hand).
A single kernel could never lift that heavy lid but numerous kernels working together can accomplish that feat.
It dawned on me that the principle that applies to popcorn is very similar to the concept behind the Cooperative Program, the method used by the Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention to fund missions and ministries in Tennessee, around our nation, and throughout the world.
I was introduced to the Cooperative Program at a young age as a member of Royal Ambassadors at Lima Baptist Church in Travelers Rest, S.C. We were a small, rural church without a tremendous amount of funds. But we gave a portion of our income each month through the Cooperative Program.
By ourselves, we could not have funded a missionary family for one week much less for a year. Yet, when our money was added with money from other churches throughout the SBC, it added up and helped support hundreds of missionary families. Our small church had a role in people coming to know Jesus Christ all over the world because we gave through the Cooperative Program.
The genius of the Cooperative Program is that churches of all sizes join together to accomplish something that only God can do.
The Cooperative Program has worked since 1925 and will continue to work IF we will let it.
Unfortunately some of our churches (not just in Tennessee) have decided they can do it alone and either bypass the Cooperative Program completely or give a pittance. Despite the good these churches do, they could do so much more if they would wholeheartedly support the Cooperative Program.
October is designated as Cooperative Program Month across the Southern Baptist Convention. I encourage Tennessee Baptist churches to examine their gifts through the Cooperative Program and to consider increasing those gifts in the coming year.
Remember the popcorn.
If every Tennessee Baptist church would increase its giving by just a half percent over the next year, together we could lift the lid off lostness in our state and around the world.
The Cooperative Program does work and will continue to work.
We just need to get out of the way and allow it to happen.