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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The world outside the window for these five churches is immense, but not intimidating. Each has found that when they put love in action through the Cooperative Program, small efforts are magnified and the impact is felt worldwide.
NOW IT’S PERSONAL
Not every church can claim a volcano ministry. But mission teams from Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, S.C., spend weeks every year with International Mission Board missionaries on the side of the Irazu volcano in Costa Rico. It is an investment that has personalized the face of missions.
A strategy coordinator church for Costa Rico through IMB, and active in missions at home, Mt. Airy is committed to giving as well as going.
“You can’t get involved in missions without it becoming personal,” pastor Keith Shorter said. “Then, you’re no longer supporting the Cooperative Program; you’re supporting that missionary you know in Toronto, or in Idaho, or in Costa Rica.”
Mt. Baptist Baptist Church’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,150; baptisms, 23; primary worship service attendance, 700; undesignated receipts, $570,908; Cooperative Program, $115,845; CP percent, 20.3; total missions expenditures, $174,320.
EVEN WHEN WE CAN’T GO
Nothing says authentic like a real camel in a Christmas nativity scene. Purchased by a member of First Baptist Church of Clinton, Ark., the camel makes a yearly appearance at the church’s very popular live nativity scene.
Authenticity is what the church goes for in missions as well. That’s why the church invests in long-term mission projects in India, Honduras and Montana — and why they are committed to reaching people through the Cooperative Program.
“Our church has a global impact mindset,” senior pastor Robby Sherman said. “Some can go; many can pray; all can give. CP allows us to impact ministries even when we can’t go.”
First Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 762; baptisms, 18; primary worship service attendance, 424; undesignated receipts, $647,888; Cooperative Program, $110,583; CP percent, 17.1; total missions expenditures, $167,489.
ANYTHING BUT SMALL
It is an idyllic scene. Rolling hills, green trees and lush farmland. The small northwestern Tennessee town of Greenfield — population 2,200 — is the home of Bethel Baptist Church, where their commitment to missions is anything but small.
The church’s heart for missions is reflected in last year’s gift of $30,000 to the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and just under 17 percent of their undesignated offerings set to reach people through the Cooperative Program.
“We believe the Cooperative Program is important because it supports our missionaries and all the other ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention,” pastor David Worley said.
Bethel Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 413; baptisms, 6; primary worship service attendance, 167; undesignated receipts, $509,043; Cooperative Program, $85,857; CP percent, 16.9; total missions expenditures, $286,990.
A WINDOW TO THE WORLD
The skyline of Louisville, Ky., can be seen through the window at First Southern Baptist Church of Clarksville, Ind. Though the Ohio River makes the bustling city feel far away, it is a reminder to the church of the world they are called to reach.
Through church-supported ministries to Hispanics, to the residents of a nearby apartment complex and through the Cooperative Program, the church is touching the world outside their window.
“The Cooperative Program helps us fulfill our vision of making and growing disciples for Christ not just in Southern Indiana but around the world,” pastor Russell Lievers said.
First Southern’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,000; baptisms, 11, primary worship service attendance, 202; undesignated receipts, $514,136; Cooperative Program, $105,108; CP percent, 20.4; total missions expenditures, $175,743.
THE FACT OF THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM
Just ask First Baptist Church in Monticello, Ark., about who their Cooperative Program gifts support and the answer will come with a name. The church said farewell a year ago to two of its own when Steve and JoAnna Lasater were commissioned as missionaries with the International Mission Board.
“So often, we give to programs that don’t have a hands-on feel,” associate pastor Kevin Henry said. “But we know we are supporting this family in God’s work. The Cooperative Program gives us a very real ability to see what we are supporting.”
First Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,134; baptisms, 24; primary worship service attendance, 353; undesignated receipts, $679,215; Cooperative Program, $119,389; CP percent, 17.6; total missions expenditures, $209,840.
Marilyn Stewart is a freelance writer and member of Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.