MBC’s CP leader issues challenge to churches
Tolliver seeks to elevate importance of missions
By Allen Palmeri
May 17, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Cooperative Program (CP) Specialist David Tolliver, who began his work in the Baptist Building May 2, has a four-point plan to invigorate support for the CP.
“The best way to promote the Cooperative Program among Missouri Baptists is to make Missouri Baptists feel that when they give to the Cooperative Program, they’re getting their money’s worth,” Tolliver said. “Right now, some of them don’t. Now they may be incorrect about that, but they feel that way. I’ve had too many calls already to complain about this or that.
“They need to feel like their money is genuinely going to worldwide missions, to start new churches that are going to last and to ministries that are going to have an effect on the kingdom. Missouri Baptists need to know that.”
But Tolliver’s four-point plan goes beyond trying to make churches feel better about supporting CP. First, it seeks to raise awareness of the CP with the younger generation. Additionally, it is geared toward restoring allegiance, to report activity, and to witness a revival of attention that he is calling a Cooperative Program missions “revival.”
Raising awareness means that he hopes to teach classes that emphasize the importance of CP missions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southwest Baptist University and Hannibal-LaGrange College.
“It is my belief that most of the young people don’t understand CP, and that they haven’t been taught it,” Tolliver said.
Restoring allegiance translates into Tolliver’s conviction that denominationalism is not dead.
“Has Acts 1:8 gone out of business?” he said. “Has the Great Commission died? No, it’s still there. That’s what the Cooperative Program is all about. Has giving to do worldwide missions died? No. In fact it is absolutely true that the only way any of us will be able to go into all the world is through giving to missions.
“There’s probably not one of us that can go into the entire world. There’s probably not even one church that can go into the entire world. But there is a denomination of churches that can go into the entire world through the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, funded through the Cooperative Program.”
Reporting activity encompasses publishing testimonials in The Pathway from various Missouri Baptist leaders who rely on the CP. Tolliver also would like to start an email newsletter like the one that MBC Worship Specialist Bill Shiflett has developed to stay in touch with his network.
“If some little church off in the middle of nowhere is giving a high percentage to the Cooperative Program, then they’re sacrificing to do that,” Tolliver said. “I want the state to know about that and to be able to affirm them and applaud them.”
Finally, Tolliver wants to fan the flame of revival as giving becomes more than just a business transaction.
“It’s going to take people not looking at this as a program but looking at it as a ministry,” he said. “People will say things like, ‘We give 12 percent to the Cooperative Program, and that’s a good thing! It’s not something we hide.’ I know lots of solid, conservative Missouri Baptist churches that give eight percent or less, and they want it in the background. I want people to understand that this is a good thing and a godly thing to do. I want Missouri Baptists to be proud to do missions through the Cooperative Program.”
Tolliver is one of the more well-known Missouri Baptist pastors, having been called since 1986 to various pulpits and trustee boards. May 1 marked the first Sunday of a transition for him, having left the pastorate of Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, to become head of the MBC’s CP ministry. Even though he now serves in a Jefferson City office, as opposed to a particular church, he said he must keep on preaching a message that the Lord has instructed him to proclaim the last eight years.
“I believe with all my heart that giving is the ultimate act of worship and giving to missions through the Cooperative Program is the most sensible and economic way to reach the world for Christ,” he said.