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)–When it comes to making a mark on the world, devotion to the Great Commission is a contribution that will last. These five churches have discovered that their Cooperative Program gifts are leaving a legacy for the Gospel that will touch the world for generations to come.
WILL IT PLAY IN PEORIA?
Stand in the right spot on Sunday mornings at Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria, Ill., and you will hear hymns sung in three languages. Sharing space with Korean and Chinese congregations was a plan the church knew would work.
A down-to-earth mentality is why the church is committed to reaching people through the Cooperative Program. Peoria’s reputation for being a proving ground for what “plays” dates back to the days of Vaudeville entertainment. In Peoria, CP “plays.”
“Missions is in the experience of our people and it is our desire to be part of missions around the world,” pastor Joel Newton said. “We give through the Cooperative Program to carry God’s Kingdom to the world.”
Woodland Baptist Church’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 744; baptisms, 4; primary worship service attendance, 287; undesignated receipts, $506,971; Cooperative Program, $82,235; CP percent, 16.2; total missions expenditures, $120,229.
NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT
The Masters Tournament in professional golf played yearly in Augusta, Ga., draws a large gallery of spectators. But at Fleming Baptist Church, mission service is not a spectator sport.
The church-wide mission involvement and the International Mission Board missionaries God has called from its membership gives them a personal perspective on missions.
“The Cooperative Program is a way for our people to partner with others for the cause of Christ and to do what we couldn’t do alone,” pastor Billy Atkins said. “We’ve seen it at work.”
Fleming Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 793; baptisms, 18; primary worship service attendance, 478; undesignated receipts, $651,934; Cooperative Program, $108,548; CP percent, 16.7; total missions expenditures, $142,852.
GROWING UP MISSIONARIES
The small delta town of Des Arc, Ark., along the White River, has seen its heyday. But First Baptist Church has its eye on the future and is growing up missionaries through mission service involvement for everyone, beginning with its preschoolers.
The vibrant church recently saw its second International Mission Board journeyman commissioned for service.
“We want to feed a mindset of missions for our youth,” pastor Melvin York said. “We may be a small church, but we can touch the world from Des Arc through the Cooperative Program and through our mission work.”
First Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 787; baptisms, 17; primary worship service attendance, 250; undesignated receipts, $342,533; Cooperative Program, $81,129; CP percent, 23.7; total missions expenditures, $121,019.
A LEGACY SPANNING GENERATIONS
Grandfather Mountain forms the horizon at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Hudson, N.C. The name stirs a sense of legacy.
The century-old church’s evangelism and missions education programs have forged a legacy generations deep. God has called from its membership three International Mission Board missionaries and several full-time pastors, youth and music ministers.
“We give through the Cooperative Program because of missions,” pastor John Green said. “It hasn’t always been easy, but we made that commitment a long time ago.”
Mt. Zion’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 1,065; baptisms, 11; primary worship service attendance, 300; undesignated receipts, $393,724; Cooperative Program, $82,229; CP percent, 20.9; total missions expenditures, $124,167.
WARNING: LIFE-CHANGING EVENT AHEAD
Mission trips can be risky. After First Baptist Church in Gonzales, La., sent one team on a mission trip, two of its members felt God calling them to return overseas as career International Mission Board missionaries. Experiencing missions and witnessing how their church was putting love in action through their participation in CP can be a life-changing event.
“The Cooperative Program is a network that allows us to fulfill the Great Commission all the time,” pastor James Law said. “It is a partnership in the Gospel of which I haven’t been able to find an equivalent.”
First Baptist’s total members in 2008 Annual Church Profile, 915; baptisms, 7; primary worship service attendance, 300; undesignated receipts, $829,304; Cooperative Program, $165,861; CP percent, 20.0; total missions expenditures, $187,087.
Marilyn Stewart is a freelance writer and member of Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.