KANSAS CITY – Missouri Baptists made a “grave mistake” when they allowed the state convention to take the lead role in promoting the Cooperative Program, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive director John Yeats said during his address at the 2013 annual meeting in Kansas City, Oct. 28.
This grave mistake took shape in the 1980s and 1990s, and “it is time it had a funeral,” Yeats said.
“From the outset, the key promoters, the key educators, the key leaders for Baptist Cooperation were our local church pastors,” he said. “Somehow we abandoned that grand idea for a centralized promotion process that was doomed from the start.
“The key to Baptist cooperation is pastors who are growing in their faith and who understand that the only way we can reach the uttermost for generations is by working together with other churches to accomplish Great Commission ministries.”
The convention has proposed that, next year, 60 percent of cooperative giving be allocated for state ministries, with the remaining 40 percent going to the national convention and its worldwide outreach, Yeats added. By the year 2020, this could be a 50/50 split, although this would not come without sacrifice on the part of state ministries.
“We ask you to pray and seek the Lord,” Yeats said. “Ask Him, ‘Lord give us faith to trust You with the resources You desire to give through our churches to the ends of the earth.”
Alongside his call for pastors to take the lead in promoting the Cooperative Program, Yeats also challenged churches to invest in three other initiatives: First, he called them to take part in a campaign to saturate the state in God’s Word by strategically distributing one million Bibles throughout Missouri. Second, Yeats called churches to help “throw down one of the major false gods of our culture” – namely pornography – by joining the One Million Men initiative (www.join1millionmen.org/get-on-the-wall).
Third, Yeats told churches to pray for and cooperate in the Heartland Interstate Strategy (HIS), thereby helping to reach the lost who live along the I-29 corridor, which runs from Kansas City to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. HIS leaders have sensed the “providence of God” as different state conventions and Southern Baptist Convention agencies begin to cooperate in planting churches along the I-29 corridor. For example, he said, the North American Mission Board has partnered in this effort by promising one million dollars to the program over a four-year period. Also, a new church planting center at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, directed by MBC Second Vice President Joshua Hedger, will serve as “the incubator for hundreds of church planters.”
Then, calling messengers to open their Bibles to Judges 6, Yeats urged them to confront courageously the cultural idols of self-indulgence and sensuality.
“How shall the God of self-indulgent economics be thrown down? By our becoming people known more for our giving than our acquiring, by our investing in the kingdom now and in the future through the resources that the Lord has entrusted to us. That is a huge perspective change that we have got to teach our people,” Yeats said. “How shall the God of sensuousness be dealt with? By our authentically loving people, not using people – by authentically loving people and not using people or images of people to satisfy our own selfish lust.
“My friends, left to ourselves and our flesh, we would be fearful creatures hiding in a winepress of lostness. But it was the Lord Jesus who valued us so much that he paid the ultimate price for us so that we could by faith become ‘mighty men of valor’ in this generation. ‘The Holy Way’ is for us to leave the flesh and our self-indulgence and for us to join the Lord by faith in a journey to overcome the world – the world of darkness and brokenness through the power of the gospel.”