Pastor David Landrith Says, "Yes!"
"A Simple Challenge—BIG Results!"
In Phoenix, Arizona, Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, issued a challenge to pastors and churches to consider increasing their Cooperative Program contributions by one percent of the church's undesignated receipts. "The effect of this simple challenge would be almost $100 million dollars more for missions and ministries across the SBC," Page said. It's a simple challenge with the potential for BIG results! Challenging churches to increase missions giving through the Cooperative Program is nothing new in SBC circles; but, for the messengers in the room on that day, this simple challenge was immediately seen as something good, something relevant, and most of all, something achievable!
"That's Our Video!"
No one in the room that day took more notice of Page's "1% Challenge for CP" than David Landrith, pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. As the "1% Challenge for CP" video was being shown that morning, Pastor David leaned over to his wife, Jennifer, and said, "That's our video!" True enough, Pastor David's church had created a similar video several months earlier as a stewardship challenge to families and individuals in the church. This was Long Hollow's "Crazy Love" initiative to support the growth of their church, especially in the areas of evangelism and missions and the start of another worship venue north of town.
Long Hollow Baptist Church
Landrith is a native Tennessean. He had served in his home town of Cleveland prior to accepting the pastorate at Long Hollow in 1997. David remembers there were 350 in attendance his first Sunday at Long Hollow, a high attendance for the church at that time. Long Hollow currently runs more than 6,500 in worship attendance each Sunday in three venues north of Nashville, in Hendersonville, Gallatin, and White House. A fourth campus will start in Springfield, with a soft opening scheduled for this month and full implementation in January 2012.
From Local Church to SBC Annual Meeting
Roger S. Oldham, vice president for communications and convention relations with the Executive Committee, was in the Sunday morning worship service the day Pastor David launched the 2011 "Crazy Love" stewardship campaign. The following week, Oldham received permission to show Long Hollow's one percent video to Page and the EC staff, suggesting it could be edited and produced as a Cooperative Program challenge for SBC pastors and churches. Page agreed and Long Hollow's "1% Crazy Love" stewardship challenge was transformed into the "1% Challenge for CP." Since the SBC annual meeting in June, the "1% Challenge for CP" has been widely accepted across the Convention. Many of our cooperating state Baptist conventions are planning to use the "1% Challenge" video at their fall annual meetings as a challenge for pastors and churches in their respective states to increase their churches' CP contributions by an additional one percent in the coming year.
"Will You Accept The 1% Challenge!"
Fast forward to a lunch meeting with Page and Pastor David in late August. The conversation was about the good things happening at Long Hollow and about the Cooperative Program. Page asked Landrith if he and Long Hollow would be willing to consider accepting the "1% Challenge for CP." After discussing this challenge with his church leadership, David said yes. As a matter of fact, Landrith said Long Hollow would increase their CP contributions by 1% this year and then do it again next year.
"We are a missions-minded church," Landrith said. Until 2005, Long Hollow's contributions through the Cooperative Program were at the ten percent level. At that time, feeling some disillusionment with the directions of their state convention and the SBC, they shifted their missions dollars to other projects, both within and without the SBC. Their support of the Cooperative Program fell to its current level of three percent."I'm encouraged with what I see happening across the SBC," Landrith said, "both in Tennessee and at the national level. I was encouraged when Randy Davis [executive director-treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention] announced that my state was moving toward a 50-50 split in CP dollars.
"I am really encouraged to see a new focus on international missions and evangelism and church planting in North America. The GCR was a turning point of putting more dollars on the field and turning back to the CP and getting a new focus," he said. "I think the younger pastors really get this and they see this as an opportunity to find their place at the table. They are encouraged as I am with the renewed emphasis on missions and evangelism and church planting. This new focus is an entry point for some pastors and a coming back for others."
"What Would You Say to Younger Pastors?"
"I would tell them, now is the time to get back to the Cooperative Program. It is a proven method for getting the Gospel out and to fund missions. If we walk away from the Cooperative Program, a great amount of work will not get done. I would say there is a new mindset now that is encouraging. The old saying, 'We can do more together than we can do alone,' is really true. It is premature to walk out. We should come back to increasing our giving to CP. I would encourage every pastor to give 1% more to the Cooperative Program. Get back in the game."