CP Summit yields ways to increase support for missions
By Allen Palmeri
June 14, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – It was mid-afternoon during the Cooperative Program (CP) Summit May 26 at the Baptist Building when one of those moments that organizers had been hoping for suddenly materialized.
John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, talked about a method of communicating the CP that he said works with churches of all types and sizes. This method is said to be particularly effective among the 1,600 Missouri Baptist churches that run 100 or less in Sunday School and the 900 churches with bi-vocational pastors.
“Don’t ever overlook the value of bulletin inserts,” Marshall said. “Bulletin inserts are a winner.”
Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Clippard and MBC Cooperative Program Specialist David Tolliver both said Marshall’s idea was one of the important “take away” points in the meeting.
“One of the things we were told is simple is better, including things as simple as bulletin inserts,” Tolliver said. “But the main thing is communication. I think a lot of this battle will be won by simply letting people know what we have, an emphasis on Acts 1:8.”
A total of 17 Missouri Baptist leaders set aside a full day to discuss ways to improve the CP, the plan adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925 as the way to help Baptist schools, mission boards and relief agencies fulfill the Great Commission. The leaders agreed that “Acts 1:8” should be coupled with “Cooperative Program” more in promotional materials, something that the MBC has started to do, Tolliver said.
“The Cooperative Program is a methodology for carrying out and accepting the Acts 1:8 Challenge,” Tolliver said.
Dwight Blankenship, pastor, Parkway Baptist Church, St. Louis, said regional meetings conducted in the spirit of the CP Summit would be a good way to boost the CP. Preventative maintenance needs to be done now, leaders agreed, or one day the CP will sink. Clippard called the CP “the glue that’s holding us together” before lamenting that it is “coming apart.”
Doug Richey, 32, pastor, First Baptist Church, Clever, was the youngest participant. He noted that while it was good for the leaders to talk about educating pastors in their 20s and 30s about the benefits of the CP, it would be better to actually have more of those men in the room.
“Going into the future, the more we involve the people we are attempting to reach, the greater the dividends will be,” Richey said.
The leaders met in three focus groups, with Marshall, Monte Shinkle, pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, and Randy Shipman, pastor, First Baptist Church, Clinton, serving as facilitators. Ideas were later transferred to a white board before the entire group. Leaders agreed that a fresh marketing approach as it concerns the CP is required.
“This is good from the perspective of getting it packaged in a way that it will be received,” Shipman said.
The leaders agreed that one mass mailing from the Baptist Building to all 2,000 Missouri Baptist churches is not necessarily the best way to communicate everything that needs to be communicated about the CP. In the future, targeted mailings to selected leaders will be considered. Pastor Richard Rhea of First Baptist Church, Troy, suggested more of a personal touch when it comes to bridging a generational gap that he said is real.
“The younger pastors are looking for relationships,” Rhea said. “They don’t want something in the mail.”
Tolliver pledged to hold a regional meeting specifically for a small group of “really young” guys.
“I got that we need to,” Tolliver said. “I didn’t get how. We’ve still got that ahead of us, and I’m going to meet with some younger, cutting-edge pastors to help me do that.”