Cooperative Program success has many faces
Note from Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director David Tolliver: Recently, your Executive Board voted unanimously to restructure the Executive Board Staff and to reorganize the Executive Board committees accordingly. An important part of the restructure plan was to add a Communications/Development Director. I am pleased to announce that Vince Blubaugh has accepted that position and will begin (officially in May) to represent you and me all over Missouri and the world. Some of you know Vince as a church planter and Cooperative Program champion. Soon you will know him as your advocate for missions and ministry. Missouri Baptists are going to hear a lot from Vince Blubaugh in the future—starting with the following introductory article. Missouri Baptists, meet my friend and colleague, Vince Blubaugh:
If you have known me for any length of time, you know that I am a big fan (some would say fanatical) of the Cooperative Program (CP) and I have been for a long time. As a matter of fact, to me it is the shining jewel of our Convention. Not only have I contributed to the CP, I have benefited from it.
In 2003, First Baptist Church, Branson, brought me on staff to be their church planter. My job was to assemble a core group, go to Rockaway Beach, and plant a new church (Bridge of Faith). Besides our sponsor church of First Branson, we had several partnering Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches. These churches included: First Elsey; First Oak Grove; Second Springfield; Ridgecrest, Springfield; New Beginnings Fellowship, Hollister, and several other churches that supported us in many ways. We could not have done what we had to do without their sponsorship, friendship, and help. And we couldn’t have done it without the assistance of all MBC churches through their support of the CP.
There was a day when I was feeling overwhelmed sitting in my office at Bridge of Faith in Rockaway Beach. The work was very hard and there were many days I felt alone. On this particular day our monthly support check came from the MBC, via our sponsoring church. I will never forget visualizing in my mind the faces of the thousands of MBC people who had placed their offering and tithes in the offering plate as it passed by. In that moment I felt as if all of you were there with me. I knew many of you were praying for me, my family and our work, and the lost souls of Rockaway Beach. I knew our church could make it financially. Immediately I was overcome with the realization that I was not alone.
Our strength comes from God alone. He is our provider and sustainer. But God also gave us Christian brothers and sisters to walk with us and to help each other with the work He has given us.
Many of you may have never been to Rockaway Beach, which is located in Taney County in southwestern Missouri, although many of you have told me you spent your high school senior trip there. However, if you placed any money in an offering plate from January of 2005 until now, then you have been a partner in the work there. I want to thank you.
Our story at Bridge of Faith is just one of hundreds. There are many new churches across our state that are benefitting right now from your faithfulnesses. But the CP doesn’t just apply to church planting. There are people like Noelle Ott, who works as a North American Mission Board missionary on the campus of Missouri Southern in Joplin. She is ministering to new college students there and helps lead in a ministry called Portico.
There are people like Sondi Scroggins. Sondi is one of your MBC staff who specializes in children ministry. Sondi is able to travel to churches statewide and provide assistance for churches in structuring and administering their children’s ministries. She can travel and provide her services at no cost to the churches. This takes place because of your CP giving.
There are people like Rick Hedger. Rick is our new Partnership Missions person here at the MBC. Rick is able to travel to places like El Salvador; Mali, West Africa; Colorado and points in between to seek out partnerships for the MBC. This has a direct impact on Acts 1:8 missions. Again, Rick is able to do this because of the CP.
I want to thank you for being faithful to the CP. I also want to encourage you to continue to be faithful, even in these difficult economic times. We now have a new executive director in David Tolliver. I believe we are heading into a time of unity as a Convention. Missouri is more lost now than ever. The fields are truly white unto harvest. This is not the time to draw back. This is not the time to surrender our communities and neighborhoods to the enemy. This is the time for us to stand together. This is the time for us to reach out in friendship and work together. This is the time for us to let all of those on the field know they are not alone. One of the best ways for us to do this is through the Cooperative Program. It is part of what defines us as Southern Baptists.