Not only did five leading pastors in North Carolina agree together to each encourage their churches to accept Frank Page’s 1% Cooperative Program Challenge, they went around the state, encouraging dozens of other pastors to do the same.
Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, at last summer’s SBC’s annual meeting challenged churches to increase their giving by 1 percent through the Cooperative Program—the way churches work together to support the missions and ministries of the state conventions and the SBC as a whole.
“We were aware of the 1% Challenge,” said Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. “Our executive director [Milton Hollifield Jr.] is a strong proponent of leading our convention to increasing our giving through the Cooperative Program.
“Because we had that commitment, we began asking the question: ‘How can we be involved in helping pastors, encouraging pastors, to lead their churches to accept the 1% Challenge?’ You can’t ask people to do something you’re not willing to do,” Harris continued. “We all made the commitment to do it.”
North Carolina Southern Baptist pastors had worked hard in 2011 and 2012 to help the state pass a “one man/one woman” marriage amendment. The five leading pastors decided to use the network they had developed for that moral issue to encourage pastors to lead their churches to give 1 percent more to missions through the Cooperative Program.
Michael Barrett has been pastor of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church in Pleasant Garden for twenty-five years. He’s also president of the state convention’s board of directors. He explained that at a meeting last summer the five leaders had with Hollifield to discuss the state convention’s annual meeting, they discussed Page’s 1% Challenge and what it could mean for North Carolina if its churches would each increase their CP giving by 1 percent.
“We were talking about $6 million [just in North Carolina]!” Barrett said. Nationally, $100 million for SBC causes would be generated, he noted. “What that could mean for church planting, church strengthening! . . . Our people need to know that!
“When you see the needs and all that CP is involved in—if people see the dream, begin to claim the dream, and live the dream, all of that happens,” Barrett continued. “Anybody who has any knowledge knows we can do more together than individually.”
Timmy Blair is pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Angier and second vice president of the state convention.
“It’s an exciting time to be a North Carolina Baptist,” Blair said. “Our convention is setting the pace for all the churches. . . . Cooperating together through the Cooperative Program, we’re investing in a broader work for the Kingdom and we’re able to do a whole lot more right here in our state.
“The Cooperative Program is probably the best, all-time greatest mission program ever devised to send missionaries and support missionaries to a lost world,” Blair continued. “Participating in CP broadens our vision. It helps us see what’s happening around the world with the Gospel, and allows us an opportunity to give to that effort and invest in something great and global.”
Stan Welch has been pastor of West Asheville Baptist Church since 2007, and is chairman of the state convention board of directors’ budget committee.
North Carolina has suffered a severe economic decline since 2008. Churches’ receipts have declined as well, which means that even if CP percentages are not reduced, the actual dollars given to missions through CP are fewer, Welch explained.
West Asheville’s commitment to increase its CP percentage every year since he was called as pastor “has allowed us, even though our receipts have been less, to not decrease or stay the same, but to increase our CP giving,” Welch said. “We feel pretty good about that.”
C. J. BORDEAUX
C. J. Bordeaux is pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham and first vice president of the state convention.
“The proof’s in the pudding,” Bordeaux said. “I’ve seen the Cooperative Program at work. . . . Look at cowboy churches and motorcycle churches and outreaches of church plants. I’m overwhelmed and want to be a part of that!”
He and the other four pastor-leaders over a two-week period made presentations to Southern Baptist pastors in five major cities across North Carolina, to encourage them to lead their churches to give an additional 1 percent to missions through the Cooperative Program.
“I heard guys who were fence-riders [about CP] . . . but I’ve not heard any negativity once we stand on their turf,” Bordeaux, a former member and officer of the SBC executive committee, continued.
“When we officers and staff of the convention see their mission field and see the broken-down homes and broken-down lives, it helps them see that we see. . . . It gives them hope that we know and we care.
“Milton Hollifield is an outstanding executive director, and Milton is sold on the Cooperative Program,” Bordeaux said. “I think we bought into it—the 1% CP Challenge—because our leader bought into it.”
Hollifield has been the executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina since 2006. He has led the state convention’s budget committee to increase the part of its CP budget that is forwarded to the missions and ministries of the SBC by one-half of one percent per year.
“The CP is the best plan I know for churches to join hands and hearts and work together to reach the nations with the Gospel,” Hollifield said.
“I love to stand in the pulpits of North Carolina Baptist churches and inform church members that when they place their contributions in the offering plates, they are helping support missions through the CP in North Carolina—and they are also supporting thousands of Southern Baptists missionaries in North America and in countries around the world.”
About the five leading pastors who led their churches to accept the 1% Cooperative Program Challenge, Hollifield said, “These pastors believe in being an example of missional living and not just a proclaimer of missional living. They understand the strongest voice they can have in this challenge is the testimony of their actions to support the challenge—not the rhetoric behind it!
“They are courageous leaders in difficult economic times—North Carolina has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country—and truly believe that we will accomplish much more for the Kingdom working together than on our own.”