SBC Life Articles

Seeing Beyond Ourselves Through the Cooperative Program

The world's spiritual condition is the most pressing reason for Porter Memorial Baptist Church's commitment to reaching people through Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program. Pointing to the 2 billion people in the world's "10-40 Window" who have little access to the Gospel, senior pastor William Henard said the CP channel for supporting national and international missions and ministry "helps us to see beyond ourselves, to recognize the mission of the church is to reach people."

"Ultimately our mission in life is to glorify God, but we glorify God by fulfilling the Great Commission," the pastor said. "The Cooperative Program helps us to stay focused on looking beyond our four walls."

Henard said his CP commitment started long before he arrived at the Lexington, Kentucky, congregation seven years ago. When he was at a small church early in his ministry, that congregation could support only a few missionaries on a limited basis, Henard said. The Cooperative Program allowed that church to participate in worldwide missions alongside churches like Porter Memorial, one of the five largest congregations in the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

By giving through the Cooperative Program, Porter Memorial can join forty-three thousand other Southern Baptist churches to support more than ten thousand missionaries at home and abroad, Henard noted.

"We want to see as many missionaries as possible get out on the field and to see as many people as possible come to Christ," the pastor said.

With 15 percent of the church's undesignated receipts channeled through the Cooperative Program, Henard said that commitment was established under the previous pastor, and members have maintained it even amid an ambitious relocation project to accommodate ever-increasing numbers, moving to a seventy-acre parcel about 1.5 miles south of its current property.

The land cost $7 million, and Henard said buildings there could eventually encompass 200,000 square feet at a cost of another $20 million. But the pastor doesn't believe construction expenses should replace missions or ministries.

"I don't think that's a legitimate reason," Henard said. "I'm not saying every church should be giving 15 percent. I think 10 percent is an excellent goal for every church. I know some that are giving 25 to 30 percent, and it kind of blows me away that they're able to do that."

Porter Memorial's visibility in the state, Henard said, includes a responsibility to set an example for other churches and encourage them to join in giving generously.

That vision must include the "going" part of missions, Henard added, because churches shouldn't think that giving to the Cooperative Program precludes them from direct involvement.

The church's drive to fulfill the Great Commission encompasses several hundred members who have gone on mission trips to various locations across the United States and the world.

Minister of Missions Larry Canfield thinks the church's longtime Cooperative Program support plays a key role in encouraging members to be on mission. He noted that many members pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 for the privilege of spreading the Gospel overseas.

"We think one helps the other," Canfield said. "If we weren't doing Cooperative Program giving like we are, I think people would be less favorably inclined to give their own money and time. It sets a standard."

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  • Ken Walker