EDITOR’S NOTE: October is Cooperative Program Emphasis Month in the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Executive Committee president Frank Page has challenged churches to raise their Cooperative Program support by 1 percentage point during the next year.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) — “Southern Baptists in World Service,” a booklet written by E.P. Alldredge for the Sunday School Board in 1936, aptly captured the essence of the Cooperative Program started by Southern Baptists in 1925.
It stated simply, “[It’s] the beginning of a new day in Southern Baptist life and work.”
The foresight and wisdom of Southern Baptist Convention leaders to establish a coordinated giving plan for all churches has resulted in literally millions of lost souls around the world professing Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior since 1925, and its impact continues to resonate greatly.
In 2004, revivalist Henry Blackaby captured the sentiments of many when he expressed that the Cooperative Program was much more than just a great idea, saying, “The Cooperative Program is not something men designed but something God put together.”
When a church gives a portion of its receipts through CP, its Gospel reach expands exponentially across its community, state, nation and world.
M.E. Dodd, considered the father of the Cooperative Program, wrote about it in a tract titled “Why I Like the Baptist Cooperative Program.” He listed seven “special advantages” of the unified giving plan that are still true today:
— It enables me to carry out my part of Christ’s program of service.
— The Cooperative Program enables me to have a part in all that is being done.
— The Cooperative Program enables me to have some part in the whole work of Christ each and every week of the year.
— This Cooperative Program enables me to do all that needs to be done because it includes every sort of service to every sort of somebody that any sort of anybody may wish to render. (It is the only program in the world that is all-inclusive to every human need.)
— This Cooperative Program enables me to carry out God’s financial program for His Kingdom.
— This Baptist Cooperative Program fixes the support of Christ’s causes as a permanent principle in life and does not leave them to temporary emotional appeal.
— The Cooperative Program does not leave the causes of Christ to become the victims of temporary weather conditions, depressions in business or other hindered causes.
The Cooperative Program has shaped for all eternity generations of Southern Baptists who have been called into service with the charge to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to their communities, state and country and throughout the entire world. Pastors and other leaders attending Southern Baptist seminaries are assisted in receiving a theological education through CP.
“The Cooperative Program is intensely personal for me,” said Don Pucik, associate executive director at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. “I was saved in a storefront mission planted by the CP, educated in schools funded by the CP, served as a home missionary sent by the CP and now I’m working in a ministry to Arkansas churches supported by the CP.”
Pucik added, “Through the CP, every Southern Baptist church was a vital part of those ministries God used to save me, train me and send me. The same can be said for every other CP-supported endeavor on the planet.”
Former Southern Baptist missionary Rusty Hart, who now serves on the executive support team at the Arkansas convention, said he witnessed the impact of CP on the field everyday.
“I saw with my own eyes how our Cooperative Program money changes lives,” Hart said. “I knew that with every dollar we invested in seeing people come to Christ, I was representing all Southern Baptists who had sacrificed to make sure that the Gospel message came to the people of Russia.
“It was a great honor to share with people that Southern Baptists all over the world gave so that I could be there at that moment to introduce them to Jesus. Through the Cooperative Program, you were there with us in Russia every time someone came to Christ. That is the miracle of the Cooperative Program.”
Pucik said one of the beauties of the Cooperative Program is it allows “every church [to] become a part of everything that Baptists are doing everywhere every day.”
Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News (www.arkansasbaptist.org), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.