There seems to be a new attitude percolating among the folks who call themselves Southern Baptists. It’s as if the old ship of cooperative ministries has been sailing on some rough seas of change, but now the sails are ready to unfurl for the journey of faith to which the Lord has called us – namely, to reach the peoples of the world with the gospel.
There have been times when the SBC has languished as if someone misplaced the compass. But I join with the choir in singing, “The anchor holds though the ship is battered / The anchor holds though the sails are torn.” And this ship, though anchored to the Savior who reveals Himself through the Word of God, is moving toward the goal of reaching lost people with the gospel for generations until the Captain of our souls rolls back the skies declaring the day of the Lord. Maranatha!
In our Baptist thinking, Baptist conventions, whether they are on the national or state level, are comprised of cooperating churches that collectively determine the direction of our ministries. It is our local churches that send the messengers to the national and state conventions that select the people for the various ministry boards that in turn select their respective leaders for strategy development and implementation.
If we are to be successful in our cooperative work of the Lord, it is because we believe the Lord has given us a common, cooperative heart to do what He has called us to do. Making such a statement doesn’t mean we all agree on everything. If I have learned anything about being a Baptist, it is that when three Baptists get together they usually have 14 opinions. And it is okay to disagree with civility.
However, there must be and there is a common vision. While the vision might be stated several different ways, Dr. Frank Page articulated a vision for 2014 succinctly at February’s Executive Committee meeting. He shared with us that the SBC vision is “Great Commission Advance: An Aggressive Global Vision—with a strong Home Base—Fueled by the Cooperative Program.”
We can do this. One reason is that the vision is rooted in the Word of God. How many times must it be said before we understand that the Great Commission is not an optional ministry of a New Testament church, and cooperative ministries of local churches are vital for multi-generational strategies? Imagine a soldier receiving orders to go into battle, and instead of an obedient response he does nothing or chooses some other activity. You won’t win a battle with that kind of soldier.
Page told the 84-member Executive Committee and its guests, including the leaders of all the SBC entities, that some of the goals of Great Commission Advance are “7,000 international missionaries, 10,000 new churches in North America in the next 10 years and reduced seminary education costs for students.”
“Friends, I do believe we’re in a new day where we have an opportunity to do some things together better than we’ve ever done before,” Page said. “We’ve struggled with trust in the past. We’ve struggled with really respecting one another.”
Page continued, “I believe we’re seeing a day and a time where we realize the enemy is so powerful and the world is going to hell so quickly, we must work together. We don’t have an option anymore. This us/them mentality has got to go. So I’m begging you to come together so that we can work together to do the work of the Lord.”
Some churches have begun to already ramp up to the common vision by embracing the 1% Challenge that Page encouraged at last year’s Southern Baptist Convention. Page reported that 15 percent of SBC churches have already adopted the 1% Challenge of giving through the Cooperative Program.
What if every church member increased his or her giving by 1% to the local church? And what if every church increased by 1% its giving through the Cooperative Program?
Just a quick study of the numbers reveals amazing results for local churches, state and national ministries.
From You to Eternity
As a part of Dr. Page’s presentation, he showed a customized version of the video produced by our very own MBC Communications staff, “From You to Eternity.” The room burst into applause as the artist, depicted in the video, completed his “storying” of the Cooperative Program.
Since the October 2012 premier of that video, our MBC creative team has customized 22 versions for sister state conventions. If you would like a free download to show to your church, Sunday school class, Bible Study group, new-member orientation, or your family, go to www.MoBaptist.org/CP.