By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — The oversized check was just a prop. The significance of the moment, however, was very real.
During a recent ceremony at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s Church Support Center in Franklin, TBMB president and executive director Randy C. Davis presented a Goliath-sized check to Augie Boto of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
The amount was for $500,000,000, which represents the recent plateau that was reached by Tennessee Baptists in the category of Cooperative Program Allocation gifts to the SBC. Davis said the milestone speaks volumes about Tennessee Baptists’ commitment to sharing the gospel.
“This is a moment to celebrate,” said Davis. “It’s an honor to say that Tennessee Baptists have a rich history of generosity firmly rooted in our Great Commission calling. When you look across the giving landscape of Cooperative Program, Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions and disaster relief, you see that Tennessee Baptists truly understand what it means when we say that ‘together we can do so much more. ’ ”
Ronnie Floyd, who was elected president and CEO of the SBC’s Executive Committee in April, said the milestone provides Tennessee Baptists with a reason to be excited about the future — and proud of their past.
“When you think of all the people whose lives have been impacted for the gospel through these gifts, I believe passing this milestone is significant and one we must all celebrate,” Floyd said. “Tennessee Baptist churches are to be commended for their commitment to advancing the gospel to their state, our nation, and the entire world. … The Southern Baptist Convention thanks Tennessee Baptists!”
The Cooperative Program has been a visible and vibrant part of Baptist culture for almost 100 years. Initially approved during the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Memphis in 1925, it was developed as a means of helping Baptists fulfill the Great Commission. Now, almost a century later, CP remains as important as ever.
“I believe the Cooperative Program was a divinely inspired gift from God to that generation of Baptists,” said Davis. “Our reality was, and always has been, that we are a network of smaller churches with some large ones sprinkled in. At the same time, we are a going, evangelistic people. The Cooperative Program is a proven method for us to do everything for missions that we, as Baptists, want to do. Even a slight increase in church giving by thousands of churches would generate millions of dollars more for the cause of reaching people for Christ locally, nationally and globally.”
Floyd said the primary reason that the Cooperative Program has remained at the forefront of the Baptist faith is because the calling of Christians hasn’t changed in the past 100 years. And it will never change, as long as the Bible remains at the center of the faith.
“Our missional vision of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations is what makes the Cooperative Program always relevant,” Floyd said. “When we connect with one another around this mission, we can do more together than alone. Celebrating this spirit of cooperation will make this live in the hearts of our pastors and churches.”
The Southern Baptist Convention officially defines the Cooperative Program as a “unified plan of giving through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries.”
At the heart of it all is loyalty. And that loyalty has led to longevity.
“The genorosity and commitment has been passed from one generation to the next,” said Davis. “And that’s what makes it work.”
The future success of the Cooperative Program in Tennessee — and all across the nation — will rest on the shoulders of young pastors and church leaders, who have the task of helping their congregations make CP a high priority.
Floyd said the key to making this happen is continuing to promote the ways in which the Cooperative Program impacts lives for Christ.
“All of us — the Executive Committee, each of our state conventions and our SBC entities — must do all we can to personalize the Cooperative Program,” Floyd said. “Seeing lives changed is why we are calling upon our churches to prioritize, elevate, and accelerate their giving through the Cooperative Program.”