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)–For these five churches, nothing represents the heart and history of the Southern Baptist Convention as much as the Cooperative Program. The thread that ties these congregations together is their commitment that, via cooperative missions, more can be done to reach the world for Christ than what any single congregation can do alone.
BACK TO THE BASICS
Simplicity and a back to basics mentality have set First Baptist Church in Summit, Miss., on a steady road to growth. Streamlining the ministries for the small-town church has energized the congregation’s mission efforts. An initiative involving each family in ministry has the potential of reaching 2,000 households for Christ.
Being as effective in ministry as possible is exactly why the church is committed to putting love in action through the Cooperative Program.
“We recognize that we can’t touch every place, but we can partner with those who can,” pastor Larry LeBlanc said.
First Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,492; baptisms, 27; primary worship service attendance, 700; undesignated receipts, $1,202,046; Cooperative Program, $185,115; CP percent, 15.4; total missions expenditures, $273,048.
Cowboys on horseback headed for work may not be the image that comes to mind when the Sunshine State is mentioned. But at First Baptist Church in Wauchula, Fla., an agricultural community of 5,000, their vision for reaching the world is anything but provincial.
“I believe that Southern Baptists, historically, have been like my small, local congregation who is trying to reach the world for Christ,” pastor Ken Smith said. “These are difficult times for sharing the Gospel. But what we can do individually is not as great as what we can do collectively through the Cooperative Program.”
First Baptist Wachula’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 2,007; baptisms, 76; primary worship service attendance, 622; undesignated receipts, $955,358; Cooperative Program, $162,375; CP percent, 17.0; total missions expenditures, $247,824.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Check out the luggage for the ever-traveling mission teams from Gilliam Springs Baptist Church in the small town of Arab, Ala., and you’ll find stickers from some of the world’s most interesting places -– Boston, Brazil, New York and the Ukraine. Learning missions through mission involvement is their motto. Every member involvement is their goal.
Besides a strong commitment to reaching people through the Cooperative Program, the church has a history of setting and exceeding a yearly ambitious goal of $50,000 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
“We support the Cooperative Program because through CP we can support the many ministries of our convention,” pastor Max Roden said. “Our giving increased because of our mission involvement.”
Gilliam Springs’ total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,656; baptisms, 18; primary worship service attendance, 600; undesignated receipts, $946,871; Cooperative Program, $175,836; CP percent, 18.6; total missions expenditures, $274,915.
A HUB FOR MISSIONS
In the picturesque southern town, just a half block off the quaint town square, First Baptist Church in Houston, Miss., is a hub of ministry with far-reaching results.
The rural farming community church has been the starting point for ministry to Hispanic migrant workers through a free medical clinic, food ministry, apartment complex outreach and a history of church planting, alongside their commitment to missions through the Cooperative Program.
“We support the Cooperative Program because we support missions,” pastor Daniel Heeringa said. “Historically, CP is the bloodline for our missionaries and is about getting the Gospel to unreached areas. It is crucial that we remain faithful to missions through the CP.”
First Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,181; baptisms, 8; primary worship service attendance, 340; undesignated receipts, $947,723; Cooperative Program, $159,093; CP percent, 16.8; total missions expenditures, $271,566.
TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
Begun in the same year, First Baptist Church and their community of Nashville, Ark., will celebrate their 175th birthday next year. Founder Isaac Perkins recognized that establishing a Baptist church was essential to a thriving community.
A long history of sacrificial participation through the Cooperative Program is the norm for the congregation in reaching people for Christ.
“The Cooperative Program enables us to reach beyond our local ministries and share in the mission work that reaches to the ends of the earth,” pastor David Blasé said.
First Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,297; baptisms, 25; primary worship service attendance, not listed; undesignated receipts, $653,000; Cooperative Program, $125,390; CP percent, 19.2; total missions expenditures, $157,800.
Marilyn Stewart is a freelance writer and member of Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.