By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
KNOXVILLE — John Green, pastor of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville, is proud of his church’s missions-giving legacy. But he has no intention of parking beside it.
Green believes his church should always be moving forward, and should constantly be seeking ways to make an even bigger impact in the future — and he believes giving through the Cooperative Program is the most effective and efficient way to reach those goals.
“As Southern Baptists, there’s no greater thing we can give to than the Cooperative Program,” he said. “If we say we’re really serious about taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, if we say we’re really about training our pastors in theological education, if we say we’re really about starting churches all across our country, if we’re really about ministering to the needy, and the helpless, and the poor, and the disadvantaged. If we say these things are who we are and what we’re about, then the Cooperative Program is the best way for us to put our money where our mouth is.
Green’s church has been doing that, and the pastor said he is encouraged and excited about his church’s displays of being cheerful givers and continuing the tradition that was established by past church members and leaders.
“Wallace Memorial Baptist Church is a church that’s founded on the legacy of international missions,” he said. “We’re named after Bill Wallace of China, who was a martyred medical missionary with the International Mission Board and who was originally from Knoxville. That legacy and focus for ministry has been a part of who we are as a church throughout our history.”
Still, Green was quick to point out that his church has not fallen into the trap of celebrating its accomplishments of the past. Instead, the church keeps looking ahead, knowing that the challenges are greater now than ever before.
“The history of the church is what is propelling us into the future for ministry,” he said. “That heritage of focus on missions, not just internationally, but also locally and nationally, is what we’re intending to do as we go forward into the future.”
Green said being generous — and making sure that the Cooperative Program remains a high priority — is a pivotal piece of being an effective, soul-winning church.
“We believe that giving is something that God has called us to do,” said Green. “We use those gifts to do ministry here locally, but we believe that the Cooperative Program is the greatest vehicle for us all as Southern Baptist churches to come together to do more than we could ever imagine doing just as a single local congregation.”
Knowing that CP dollars stretch all around the world, Green said it’s easy to be enthusiastic about supporting the ministry.
“We are excited to give to the Cooperative Program because we know that it accomplishes such great work,” said Green. “When we give to the Cooperative Program we know that we’re supporting thousands of missionaries all around the world.”
In regard to spreading the gospel, Green’s church has established two specific target areas — near and far.
“We have, as a church, said we want to adopt unreached people groups on every continent where people live,” he said. “We want to plant churches through our North American Mission Board in cities all around our country. And of course we are doing ministry here locally. That idea of the mission that God has given to us as a church is what propels us into ministry.”
Green is one of several prominent young pastors in Tennessee who are putting a renewed emphasis on giving through the Cooperative Program — and he hopes others will follow suit. Green believes others will be more inspired to give when they learn more about CP and what it does.
“What I would say to someone who maybe doesn’t know a lot about the Cooperative Program or is unsure about participating in the Cooperative Program, is that this is an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” said Green.
“As a church, you can be a part of foster care, you can be a part of international missions, and church planting across our country, and helping those that are in hurricane zones, or whatever the case may be. But as we come together and give to the Cooperative Program, we’re able to be a part of this bigger picture of God’s work all over the world.”