Editor’s note: The Pathway sat down with Spencer Hutson, Cooperative Program/Stewardship specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), to talk about the Cooperative Program (CP). The average MBC church gives 6.4 percent of its budget to CP, which is then distributed among ministries through the MBC and the SBC.
Q: One of the strengths of CP is that it allows churches to be involved in all aspects of Acts 1:8, from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth. What are some of the ways CP dollars are at work in the Jerusalems and Judea of Missouri?
A: A direct result of CP is that you have MBC staff as an available resource to help a church in virtually any ministry you can think of. CP benefits the two Baptist colleges we have in the state (Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange College), the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, not to mention the state Baptist paper.
Q: Between the economic recession and still-rising unemployment, church offerings are taking a hit and with that CP will probably dip a little, too. Nationwide, CP receipts are down 2.23 percent from 2008. How are things looking in Missouri?
A: For Missouri, CP is hovering between 8.5 and 9 percent behind last year. I get a report every 30 days and that’s right on target from Jay’s (MBC Associate Executive Director Jay Hughes) budget projections.
Q: Part of your job description is helping educate churches and their members on CP. What is available to churches?
A: Every time I’m invited into a church to talk about stewardship and budget promotion, I’m going to leave some CP materials in their hands. We provide a variety of promotional materials and resources that any church can use if they want them to learn more about what CP does in Missouri, nationally and internationally. Just call me up and ask!
Q: With all the talk surrounding the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR), there have been rumors of revamping the way Southern Baptists fund and allocate missions. Do you think CP will continue to be relevant in the years to come?
A: CP has been the face of the Southern Baptist Convention and has been a way for us to feel like we are all a part of the Great Commission, regardless of the size of our church. It helps you be a part of something bigger. We don’t know yet what the end result of GCR will be, but it’s my hope that we’ll always have a way for churches of all sizes to feel like they are a part of something bigger. It doesn’t have to look exactly like it has always looked, but there needs to be some cooperative effort to help keep a smaller church from feeling isolated. I would say we’re doing some very relevant work in Missouri.