NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Eric Moffett was just 26 years old when he was elected second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, on the same day his church was honored with the M.E. Dodd Award for sustained Cooperative Program giving.
His election to the post was a surprise, with a friend asking to submit his name just a half-hour before nominations began at the annual meeting in June.
“At first I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe that I would be elected, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Moffett, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sparkman, Ark., told Baptist Press.
As the pastor of a congregation with just over 100 members, Moffett said one of his goals as second vice president is to help the convention’s small churches.
“We have a vast resource of small churches that are preaching the Gospel and serving Christ, and I think we can do better in how we network and equip our smaller churches to do the work of the Gospel,” he said.
“One of the things I really want to do this year is talk to as many people as possible. As second vice president, obviously, I don’t make any decisions, I don’t implement anything or make any nominations, but the position does give me a voice and a place at the table as things are discussed with our president and with our entity heads.”
Moffett graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in 2006 with a degree in theology and biblical Greek, and he is pursuing a master of arts in theology through the convention’s Seminary Extension program.
“What I’ve found in my network of friends is there are a lot more younger CP supporters than I initially thought and than I think many people realize,” Moffett said. “My younger brothers that are not supporters of CP, a lot of it has to do with sometimes misunderstanding what Cooperative Program giving is and sometimes unrealistic expectations of how CP money is to be spent.
“We tend to talk about salaries and secretaries and stuff like that, and people would kind of like to rail against that,” he said. “But we have to realize that sometimes elements of bureaucracy are necessary in order to keep our missionaries on the field and keep their health insurance up to date and make sure they have what they need.”
As the convention awaits the implementation of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report, Moffett said Southern Baptists need to prayerfully seek revival in their hearts and realize that a lack of funding for the Great Commission “comes down to personal issues.”
“When we as individuals are by and large giving less than 3 percent of our income, that speaks to the heart of what’s important to us as Southern Baptists. Probably the biggest thing I’m praying for Southern Baptists this year is a continued sense of revival and renewal and the realization that we have to change our lifestyles if we are going to share the Gospel with all nations,” Moffett said.
“We can’t live like we’ve lived in the past and we can’t spend like we’ve spent in the past. We have to become serious about what we support and how we live.”
First Baptist Sparkman, which averages 60 to 75 people for worship on Sundays, was recognized with the M.E. Dodd Award because of “continuous, long-term excellence in supporting the principles, practice and spirit of the Cooperative Program.”
The average CP giving by the church over the past 30 years is 32.78 percent, with a high of 43.49 percent and a low of 24.27 percent.
“Now this is what the Bible calls sacrificial giving,” Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said as he presented the award in Orlando, Fla.
Moffett said standing on the platform to receive the award on behalf of the church was an overwhelming experience, and while many pastors seek to bring their congregations on board with the Cooperative Program, Moffett said it was First Baptist Sparkman that taught him the importance of Southern Baptists’ unified giving plan for missions.
“Growing up, I learned about CP and knew what CP did and was thankful and was a supporter of the Cooperative Program, but it wasn’t until I came to Sparkman that I truly realized the great Kingdom potential of our CP giving,” he said.
Moffett grew up on a farm in northwest Arkansas as a member of First Baptist Church in Huntsville. He surrendered to a call to ministry when he was 14 and was mentored by his pastor and youth minister.
“It was their influence that led me to go to Ouachita to study theology,” he said.
As he fulfills a national role in Southern Baptist life so early in his ministry, Moffett said he hopes other churches will pick up the same spirit of sacrificial giving as First Baptist Sparkman.
“Something the church in Sparkman has taught me is that their focus on ministry has never been just on what they could do alone, on just what we could accomplish on our own and what we could do in Sparkman,” he said. “But our focus has always been, long before I was here, on what we can do together as Southern Baptists with Kingdom partners all over the world.”
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.