EDITOR’S NOTE: In recognition of the SBC’s October emphasis on the Cooperative Program, Baptist Press will provide readers with extra news and information detailing the scope and depth of the Cooperative Program and its impact for the Kingdom. Using vignettes and profiles of churches and individuals, as well as historical and ongoing accounts, our intent is to explain the Cooperative Program not just as a funding channel but as one of the critical ties that bind Southern Baptists in voluntary fellowship for cooperative ministries and missions.
DACULA, Ga. (BP)–As a young child growing up in church, I was taught many important truths that I have never forgotten. Among those truths was the value of cooperating with other Christians in taking the message of Christ to the world.
I can remember my dad and mom telling me, “Son, every time you give your offering at church you are supporting God’s work around the world.” I was an adult before I learned that not every denomination supports missions the way Southern Baptists do. The SBC’s Cooperative Program is something that was ingrained in me. I believed in it then, and I believe in it today.
Cooperation just makes sense. It is easy to explain to new Christians that by being faithful stewards of God’s resources, they have the opportunity to partner with thousands like them who believe in the importance of sharing the Good News of Christ with the world. I can stand on Sunday and tell my congregation that they have a part in supporting more than 10,000 missionaries. I can assure them that their sons and daughters who are called to the mission field will not have to struggle to raise their own funds, but can dedicate their energy to the mission to which God has called them.
My congregation, Hebron Baptist Church, recently commissioned two brothers headed to the foreign mission field. The reaction was incredible when I explained to the church family that as they give every Sunday, they are supporting these two families.
But it doesn’t end there. God has blessed our church with growth. In the 31 years I have been pastor I have seen the church grow from a small rural church to a large church. I don’t say that to boast in myself, because only through the prayers and vision of the people has this happened. Through the Cooperative Program, we are able to help smaller churches in evangelism, small group Bible study, worship and many other ways that make up the life of the church. We can help support state and national missionaries who assist churches to reach their potential for God. We can be part of expanding God’s Kingdom in Georgia.
The Cooperative program isn’t perfect by any means. Do we need to constantly look at ways to make it better? Absolutely. But at the same time, I refuse to believe that it is no longer a viable way to do missions. I am as committed to the Cooperative Program today as I was when my parents, my pastor and my Sunday School teachers first introduced it to me. It made sense then, and it makes sense now.
Larry Wynn is senior pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, Ga.