SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page will issue a challenge to Southern Baptists at the SBC annual meeting to “do more” to reach the world with the Gospel.
Page will share his vision for Great Commission Advance, an initiative to increase missions involvement among individuals and churches, during his report to the Convention on Tuesday afternoon, according to C. Ashley Clayton, EC vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship.
“In its most condensed and basic form, Great Commission Advance calls for Southern Baptists to simply ‘do more,’” Clayton said. Page will call on all Southern Baptists—individuals, families, and churches—sacrificially to “‘do more’ to advance the Great Commission so that every person has the opportunity to hear the Gospel,” he said.
Page told SBC LIFE that “doing more” in the area of personal stewardship is essential to missions involvement. He will urge Southern Baptist individuals and families to commit to establishing a biblical standard of giving and generosity.
Page will also encourage Southern Baptists to participate in missions at the local, state, national, and international levels. For some, “doing more” may mean surrendering to God’s call to vocational ministry as a pastor, chaplain, church planter, or international missionary, he said.
In addition, Page will challenge churches to increase their level of support for Southern Baptist missions and ministries by giving more through the Cooperative Program, Clayton said.
Since being elected EC president in 2010, Page has emphasized that the Cooperative Program is about missions and ministries, not numbers and percentages, Clayton said. Southern Baptist missions and ministries at the state, national, and international levels are fueled by the Cooperative Program. Ministries like disaster relief, international missions, collegiate ministry, theological education, church planting, care for neglected children, and moral advocacy are supported by dollars contributed through the Cooperative Program, he said.
One of the primary objectives of Great Commission Advance is to address the decline in Cooperative Program giving over the past two decades, Clayton said. In 1982, churches were giving an average of 10.7 percent of their undesignated receipts to cooperative missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program. That number has dropped to 5.4 percent, declining by an average of about 0.2 percent each year.
In 2012, the average percent of churches’ Cooperative Program giving held steady for the first time since the 1990s and actually ticked upward slightly.
The previous year, Page had announced the “1% CP Challenge,” asking churches to increase their Cooperative Program giving by one percentage point of their undesignated receipts. If every church increased their Cooperative Program giving by one percent, it would bring in an extra $100 million for SBC missions and ministries, Page said. If church Cooperative Program giving returned to an average of 10 percent as it was in the past, Cooperative Program receipts would be close to $1 billion, providing a platform for the most aggressive missions enterprise in the history of Christendom, he said.
The International Mission Board has estimated that it needs seven thousand missionaries on the field to initially reach every known unengaged, unreached people group in the world; but it currently has less than five thousand. The North American Mission Board has committed to planting fifteen thousand churches in ten years. Increased Cooperative Program dollars would also keep the costs of seminary training at a minimum, making theological education more accessible to all Southern Baptists.
Page has led the Executive Committee to reduce its Cooperative Program allocation percentage from 3.4 percent in the 2010–11 fiscal year, to 3.2 percent in the 2011–12, to 2.99 percent in the current fiscal year. He plans to reduce even further in the 2015–16 fiscal year. Allocation percentages are adjusted every two years.
“We’re lowering our Cooperative Program allocation. So when you hear me beating the drum and asking for more, it’s to go to these other entities to do that which God has called them to do,” Page told the Executive Committee at its February 17 meeting.
The SBC was founded based on shared values such as missions, evangelism, stewardship, and cooperation, Clayton said. On the basis of those values, Baptists were able to organize and develop a structure through which to accomplish their work.
Great Commission Advance is about refocusing on those values, Clayton said. “We want to elevate our values above mere background noise. When people align with and embrace the values, it will result in increased support for Cooperative Program.”
The trouble comes, Clayton said, when an organization loses sight of its core values. “Knowing the ‘why’ of an organization is vital to its success,” he said. Through Great Commission Advance, Page will remind the SBC of its core values, of why we do what we do.
“The long-held guiding principle of the SBC is as true today as when it was founded,” Clayton said. “We can do more together than we can do alone.”
Rebecca Wolford, communications specialist with the SBC Executive Committee, is a member of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Coopreative Program Resources
State conventions partner with the Executive Committee to promote the Cooperative Program. A number of resources are available on SBC.net/cp, including videos that can be downloaded for free and used in churches, associational meetings, or state convention gatherings:
1% Challenge: Introduces the 1% CP Challenge and shows the ministry that could be done if all churches participated. “It only takes 1 percent to make a difference.”
CP Rant: An animation created by Louisiana Baptists aimed at younger generations that explains the value of the Cooperative Program.
From You To Eternity: A video created by the Missouri Baptist Convention that illustrates how the Cooperative Program works—through illustration.
Empty Hands: Created by the media arm of the SBC of Virginia (Innovative Faith Resources), the video shows how an individual’s tithe helps support Southern Baptist missions and ministries.
Cooperative Program Stage at SBC
Southern Baptists’ core values will be on display at the Cooperative Program stage in the exhibit hall of the SBC. The Executive Committee has used this venue for the past four years to host interviews and panel discussions that orbit around SBC values. The stage is located between the IMB and NAMB booths.
This year, the stage will host high-energy panel discussions, one-on-one interviews, and short talks by individuals. It will feature pastors, denominational leaders, and other voices from across the Convention who are knowledgable and passionate about the Cooperative Program.
The interviews will be streamed live through www.SBC.net.