Editor’s Note: View the Cooperative Program video featuring David Green at the end of this article.
By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
GREENEVILLE — First Baptist Church, Greeneville, has been giving through the Cooperative Program since the Southern Baptist funding channel was established in 1926.
First Baptist currently gives 13 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, said David Green, who has served as pastor of the East Tennessee congregation for 18 years.
“Giving is part of the DNA of our Baptist family here,” Green explained. “If there’s a need, we’re going to give to it. If there’s an opportunity to expand our missions reach, we’re going to give through that opportunity,” he continued.
The pastor observed that while giving through the Cooperative Program the church also is supporting missionaries in Mongolia who are members of First Baptist. In addition, the church takes several short international missions trips each year while supporting local ministries in the Greeneville area.
He emphasized that God is the focus of what the church does. “It’s never about having a bigger presence for First Baptist Church. We want people to see through us and see Jesus. We want to be a church without walls.”
Green believes strongly that a church with a Great Commission focus (to share the gospel) and a giving church go hand in hand. “If they don’t go hand in hand it won’t work,” he stressed.
“I believe that God rewards our obedience in giving. He rewards our generosity by giving us other opportunities to help more people. And that’s what church is about — helping people and spreading the gospel around the world.”
The pastor observed that First Baptist has had three major building programs and four capital campaigns during his tenure at the church. “At any point in the last 18 years someone could have said, ‘We’ll cut back on our Cooperative Program giving so that we can afford to pay (for those expansions).’ We made a conscious effort not to cut back but to continue giving more through missions,” Green said.
“And it turned out that the more we gave through missions, the more God blessed us with resources.”
Green affirmed that he is “all in” for the Cooperative Program because “it benefits people” and it brings Baptist churches from diverse backgrounds across Tennessee together. “If we ever needed a reason or needed something to bring us together, it’s now,” Green said. “There’s a lot of things we differ on across our state but we can at least get together behind the common cause of spreading the gospel (the Great Commission) with a proven vehicle like the Cooperative Program.”
And it’s not just the church that has the Cooperative Program and giving in its DNA. Green has a strong appreciation for the Cooperative Program in his own DNA. “I personally believe that the Cooperative Program is the best vehicle for our missions giving and missions support around the world that we’ve seen in our lifetime.”
He observed with pride that he is a “product of the Cooperative Program. When I was in college the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Campus Ministry) reached out to me when nobody else would. God used them to turn my life around.”
Though he was a Christian when he entered college, Green acknowledged that “he was not serving the Lord the way I needed to at the time.” God later provided Cooperative Program funds so Green could later serve as a summer missionary. “That impacted the way God called me into ministry,” he said. In addition, the Cooperative Program also helped fund his seminary education.
Green and First Baptist are committed to continuing the legacy of the Cooperative Program by continuing to offer Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors (missions education programs for children). “As Southern Baptists today in the 21st century, we stand on the shoulders of people who gave through the Cooperative Program and instituted a way of giving that helps churches of all sizes teach around the world together.
“We can do more together than we could ever do in a societal giving model,” he added.