INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, is this year’s recipient of the M.E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award for his distinguished support of Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan.
The award, a bronze sculpture of a farmer sowing the seed of the Word of God, was presented June 10 as part of the Executive Committee’s report at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis. It was inaugurated in 2000 as part of the Cooperative Program’s 75th anniversary.
Dykes has been pastor of the 14,000-member Green Acres Baptist Church since 1991 and has led the church to give steadily increasing percentages through the Cooperative Program.
“Since 2000, Dr. Dykes has led the people of Green Acres to give over $18.4 million to various mission causes, including more than $10 million to reach and minister to people through the Cooperative Program,” Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, told messengers.
“In recent years, Green Acres has led the SBC in Cooperative Program giving. This year is no exception, with giving through the Cooperative Program of over $1.4 million. They have baptized nearly 2,000 people in the Tyler area during the past seven years,” Chapman said.
Each year, Green Acres sends more than 1,000 volunteer missionaries to various locations around the world. Dykes personally has led missions teams to 10 different countries, and the church has strategic partnerships in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Cuba, Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil, East and Central Asia and Egypt.
Dykes, a native of south Alabama, started preaching at age 17 before earning degrees from Samford University in Birmingham and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
The pastor gave credit to his church as he accepted the award, which he said was on their behalf.
“I already was excited about missions when I went to pastor Green Acres 17 years ago, but they’ve taught me more about missions than I could ever teach them, and they’ve led me to be more passionate about missions than I’ve taught them,” Dykes told messengers. “Just being part of a church that is willing to go anywhere at any time is a blessing to my life.”
Several years ago, Green Acres was giving 12 percent of undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, and in the midst of a building project Dykes challenged them to increase their giving by one-half percent each year until they reached 15 percent.
“And I challenge you, no matter what church you serve, wherever you are, challenge your people to give away because God always blesses churches and congregations who’ll give away for the Lord’s sake,” he said to the messengers.
Dykes emphasized the crucial nature of Southern Baptists’ plan for supporting national and international missions and ministries.
“The Cooperative Program is not only the lifeline for all of our mission work, both here and around the world and our seminaries and other ministries,” the M.E. Dodd recipient said. “It is also the pipeline of resources, and it is the ‘loveline’ in which we show our support and love to all of our full-time servants in the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, seminaries and other agencies.”
Also as part of the Executive Committee’s afternoon report, Hoyt Savage, pastor of Foothills Baptist Church in Las Vegas, testified about the difference the “It’s a New Day” financial freedom initiative has made at his church.
“Last September, Las Vegas led the nation in [home] foreclosures. We were beginning to experience the slowdown of our economy, and our church was beginning to feel that same experience,” Hoyt said, adding that average weekly giving dropped last fall by $800 or about 9 percent.
Hoyt had heard about It’s a New Day but said he didn’t fully understand it until he ordered the materials and prayed about leading his church through a study of managing finances God’s way. The church soon had four Sundays of worship services and Bible study for all ages on stewardship.
“Without any large increase in attendance, our giving began to rise,” Hoyt said. “In fact, by December we were back to the level of our giving that had been for the previous year. We had made up that $800 of shortfall.
“Not only that, since that time — the last nine months — we have not only made up that shortfall but we have gone another 9 percent beyond that where today we are receiving as a church over $800 more than we did a year ago in the midst of this time,” he said.
But what really excites Hoyt is that small groups of people began studying Crown Financial Resources material, which is used as part of It’s a New Day.
“And as a result of that, we’ve seen young adults who’ve begun to put off purchasing new homes in order to pay off credit card debt and to reduce debt in their lives,” Hoyt said. “We’ve seen some single adults who’ve adjusted their lifestyles in order to give regularly to our church and to other Kingdom causes.
“In addition we’ve seen those in median adult and senior adult years begin to reduce their debt and pay off their homes early, and as a result of that our giving to Kingdom causes has increased enormously,” he said.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.