In just a few days, Missouri Baptists will gather together for the 175th annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). We will gather to do the business of the convention. One of the most important votes that will be taken at the 2009 annual meeting will be the vote on the 2010 Cooperative Program (CP) budget. The budget vote promises to illicit some debate, maybe even some dispute. Missouri Baptists get emotional, sometimes territorial when we begin to talk about how and where CP dollars will be spent. If you have a strong opinion concerning the expenditure of CP dollars, I pray that you are planning to attend the convention. I hope you will voice your concerns and vote your convictions. I also think it is important that those who make spending decisions are also giving generously.
In light of the upcoming debate, it is appropriate that I run an article that I wrote four years ago concerning not the spending, but the giving and receiving of Cooperative Program funds. Following are excerpts from a 2005 article entitled “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is”.
“Put your money where your mouth is.” I grew up the second boy in a family of five children. The first three of us were boys, each of us just one year apart. When we were young boys, we were like a lot of boys. We played together, fought together and challenged one another in all sorts of ways. “Put your money where your mouth is” is a phrase I heard and said a lot when I was a kid. One of us would brag about something we thought we could do better than the other two, and in almost every case, someone else would say, “Oh, yeah? Put your money where your mouth is!”
And now I’m saying it again. “Put your money where your mouth is.” Have I reverted back to my childhood? I hope not. But I do believe that many of us need to be challenged to say what we mean and mean what we say. For several years, I have been involved with many of you in a conservative resurgence within our Missouri Baptist Convention. We have stated many times that we wanted a state convention that was more supportive of the life, work and ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). I distinctly remember attending a meeting where one of our strong conservative leaders stated that he wanted to “… be a part of a Missouri Baptist Convention that was hard-wired to the SBC.” That comment was met with enthusiastic support, not to mention thunderous applause. And, so now, I am privileged to serve a Missouri Baptist Convention that is fully supportive of the SBC. But again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
What does it mean to be fully supportive of the SBC? It means “Putting your money where your mouth is.” To be fully supportive of the SBC, ultimately, means being involved with all Southern Baptists in worldwide missions and evangelism. It means accepting the Acts 1:8 Challenge and implementing Show-Me Acts 1:8 by giving to missions through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program. Even conservative Southern Baptists periodically debate the particulars of doctrine. Sometimes, our methodologies differ. But the one constant with Southern Baptists is the Cooperative Program. Those who are fully supportive of the SBC are happy to give generously to missions and evangelism through the Cooperative Program. But again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
I recently had occasion to look at the Cooperative Program giving of some of our loyal, conservative Missouri/Southern Baptist churches. Actually, I had received correspondence concerning a Missouri Baptist church that is not supportive of the current direction of the MBC. That church has taken the drastic step to significantly cut the percentage of their offerings that go to missions through the Cooperative Program. I am distressed whenever that occurs. I will never understand why any Baptist would hold more than 10,500 SBC missionaries hostage just because they disagree with a particular action of the convention. Why would any genuinely missions-minded church reduce their giving to the support of more than 15,300 future missionaries and ministers of the Gospel who are currently training in six Southern Baptist seminaries? I admit it – I fail to comprehend why any church with a heart for the world would not be supportive of the most efficient method of worldwide evangelism – the Cooperative Program of the MBC/SBC. But the action of that church prompted me to look at the giving records from several of our churches. I looked at some other churches that are openly defiant about the conservative direction of the MBC/SBC. I found the level of their giving to be very low. But that was to be expected.
I also looked into the giving reports of some churches that fall into that “… fully supportive of the SBC” category. I was disappointed at what I found. Now, certainly there are conservative churches that are generously supporting missions and evangelism through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program. The list of the top 100 churches giving through the Cooperative Program (with a few exceptions) reads like the “Who’s Who” among conservative Missouri Baptist churches. I applaud and appreciate those of you who already give sacrificially to see Acts 1:8 come to fruition.
But I have written this article to challenge others of you to “Put your money where your mouth is.” The challenge is to churches similar to one of our conservative Missouri Baptist churches whose pastor serves on a strategic Missouri Baptist Convention committee. That church gave less than 1 percent of its budget to missions through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program last year. And again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
I discovered another Missouri Baptist church – a church whose pastor is well known in the association as an outspoken conservative pastor, one who is outwardly fully supportive of the SBC, yet that church gave nothing to missions and evangelism through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program. And again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
There is more. But rather than belabor the issue, to those who stood with me, “… fighting the good fight,” to return our MBC to her conservative roots aligned with the SBC—may I be blunt? If the Missouri Baptist Convention was worth fighting for, it is worth paying for. Out of deep conviction, we were moved to take a stand and fight for right within the MBC. In the power of the Spirit of God, we struggled for the opportunity to give direction to the missions and ministries of the MBC. And God gave us the victory! We won! Now that same conviction that provoked us to fight for the heart of the MBC, urges us to give generously to pay for the missions and ministries of the convention.
You say that you are fully supportive of the SBC/MBC? I say, “Put your money where your mouth is.”