Reality television seems to have taken over the airways. Of course, you do understand, I hope, that what we call reality television has very little to do with reality. But one of the new reality television shows has comedian Howie Mandel as its host, and is appropriately called How We Do It. The show title is a play on words, including a misuse of the host’s name. The line that the host repeats is “This is how we do it.” Now, I have to acknowledge I have never seen an entire episode of the show and I am not even certain the show continues to run, but I like the title—How We Do It.
And, in Missouri-Southern Baptist life, this is how we do it. When it comes to reaching the world for Christ, cooperatively is how we do it. So, let’s talk a little about “how we do it.” For many of you, this will be old news. It is, nevertheless, always exciting to talk about and hear about the cooperative work of Southern Baptists around the world.
Here’s a quick glance at how we do it:
International Missions in more than 1,200 different nations and people groups around the world. Many of you are participating in direct/short –term missions through the various Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) missions partnerships, and I encourage you to continue to do that. But through the Cooperative Program, you are witnessing in a multitude of foreign lands on a daily basis. That’s the Baptist way.
Home Missions right here in Missouri and around the United States and Canada. Through the Cooperative Program, the churches and associations of the Missouri Baptist Convention and North American Mission Board (NAMB) teamed up to start more than 1,500 churches in the Show-Me state, throughout the United States and in Canada. In addition, the vital ministries of your MBC—too numerous to list here, are available to you and your church because Missouri Baptists give through the Cooperative Program. That’s how we do it.
“Salt and light” ministries through the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Christian Life Commission (CLC) of the MBC. Through the CLC, you have a voice in the Missouri state legislature. Through the ERLC and the CLC you are raising awareness in America concerning the moral issues of the day. When Richard Land testifies before congressional committees, and when he speaks to America on Christian radio—that’s your prophetic voice warning our nation of the dangers of immorality. Keep ringing the bells of freedom.
Christian education—through the Cooperative Program, you enable God-called men and women to train for the ministry. The Cooperative Program funds six world-class seminaries – one of them, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – right here in the Show-Me state. At any given time, there are more than 15,000 men and women studying to fulfill God’s call on their lives as missionaries, pastors and other church staff ministers. And, right here in the Show-Me state, you provide for the Christian education of young men and women who will, eventually, lead our state, nation and the world in business, science and the arts. Southwest Baptist University and Hannibal-LaGrange College are recognized worldwide as excellent academic institutions. Those schools exist because of your generosity. Thousands of students thank you.
Disaster Relief—in an average year, more than 90,000 Southern Baptists participate in ministry to the victims of disaster. More than 3,000 of those volunteers are Missouri Baptists, who, on average, minister to the victims of 6 – 7 major disasters every year. Ministry often includes back-breaking work, sometimes requires technical expertise but always involves spirit-lifting opportunities to see people come to faith in Christ. Even if you have not been able to personally participate—you are there through your prayers and your Cooperative Program gifts that fund the Disaster Relief training of NAMB and the MBC. There is no better investment than your investment in people.
Children’s Home Ministry—your gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Missouri Missions Offering enable Missouri Baptists to continually provide resident care, foster parenting and adoption services to thousands of abused and neglected children. Through the Missouri Baptist Children’s home (MBCH), children receive extravagant love and excellent care. But more than that—they receive the message of God’s love for them. Last year, more than 30 children were saved through the ministries of the MBCH. You just can’t put a price-tag on that.
There is so much more we could say, but time and space will not allow it. Cooperatively, Missouri-Southern Baptists are, indeed, reaching the world. I am pleased to be a part of it and I thank you for your partnership in the Gospel. One of the reasons for the How We Do It title to the television program was that Howie Mandel actually inserted himself into many of the segments on that show. And, through the Cooperative Program, you insert yourself into missions and ministry all over the world.
Cooperatively—that’s how we do it as Missouri Southern Baptists.