SBC Life Articles

The Cooperative Program

"It would not be possible for a church our size to put a missionary in Brazil or West Africa; the start-up costs would be prohibitive," pastor Mike Moody says. "But when we collectively work with 16 million Southern Baptists, we can do it."

Moody is pastor of First Baptist Church in Honea Path, South Carolina, where about four hundred people attend Sunday worship services.

By giving through the Cooperative Program, Moody noted that First Baptist is assisting more than five thousand missionaries who are working to share the Gospel among some twelve hundred people groups around the world. In North America, he added, the church's CP gifts are helping start some seventeen hundred new churches each year at a time when, as Moody put it, "the world has come to us. You don't have to go far to find Hispanic communities, Asian communities, African communities [in need of the Gospel].

"The Great Commission basically tells us to go and make disciples," Moody said, noting that "the Cooperative Program helps us fulfill that mandate. It's a fact that we can do more cooperatively than we can individually. That inclusive spirit helps smaller churches."

The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' chosen way of combining the efforts and resources of local churches to make an eternal difference in the lives of people around the world and across North America.

Moody said he has seen the value of cooperation not only at the church he has led since 1999 but also through the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He has served on the convention's executive board the last five years, including the last three as chairman of the budget, finance, and audit subcommittee.

Moody was elected president of the state convention last November after nominator Von Reynolds spoke of his "loyal and unswerving support for the Cooperative Program."

There's a simple reason for his commitment to the Cooperative Program, Moody said in an interview with Baptist Press.

"The beauty of the Cooperative Program is that we in the local church determine what percentage we're going to give to it," Moody said. "South Carolina retains 60 percent of it and sends on 40 percent of it to the Southern Baptist Convention. With the 60 percent that stays in South Carolina, we fund seven institutions and all the work of South Carolina Baptists: Sunday School, disaster relief, discipleship training, and more.

"The 40 percent that is funneled to the SBC is divided up as directed by the messengers to the convention as they approve the budget," the pastor continued. "So we're actually a small piece of a very large puzzle. Because of the Cooperative Program we don't have fragmented giving — each [Baptist entity] having to go to forty thousand churches to ask for money. The Cooperative Program is a blessing; I believe it is a gift from God."

That's why Moody said he is disturbed about a downward trend.

"The Cooperative Program percentage is declining in churches," he said. "In South Carolina we have dropped from a little over 10 percent [of church budgets] to 7 percent …. If we're going to fund missions outreach both nationally and internationally, we're going to have to do a better job of missions education on the seminary level as well as in the churches. We're going to have to re-emphasize missions in our churches."

First Baptist gives 13 percent of its undesignated gifts through the Cooperative Program and provides missions education for children through Royal Ambassadors and Girls in Action missions groups. Men and women in the congregation, meanwhile, grow in their commitment through active involvement in various missions efforts.

"Missions education has been a priority in this church," Moody said. "That contributes to the strength in missions giving."

He provided a short history lesson.

"Since the Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845, we've always had one desire, to fulfill the Great Commission. But how to do that? Everybody had their own idea," Moody said. "Every entity had to go and raise their own funds, and everybody was in competition for the mission dollars."

In 1919, SBC leaders proposed a "75 Million Campaign" entailing five-year pledges to address the financial struggles of various convention entities, the pastor continued. The goal wasn't met, but by working together on the campaign, leaders saw the benefit of working together, and from that came the launch of the Cooperative Program in 1925.

"It's the spirit of cooperation that makes up the Cooperative Program," Moody said, adding, "We're trying to translate this out in practical service to Christ with people here in our town."

Men of the church build handicap ramps and give them at no cost to needy area residents. They also have tackled house renovations. Youth each year participate in World Changers construction missions in various locations across the country. Among several local ministries, First Baptist members are involved in Meals on Wheels and a free medical clinic.

Mission trips have been primarily in North America and one to Mexico City, with a China trip currently being discussed.

"I'm just blessed with a mission-minded church," Moody said. "When the Cooperative Program started in 1925, this church was on board then. It's been their heart and soul — their passion. That's just who these people are."



Help your church members see the difference they are making through the Cooperative Program. Free resources are available through most state convention offices or for a nominal charge through the national office. To contact the national CP office call 1-800-722-9407 or log on to www.sbc.net/cp