WHAT IS THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM?
The Cooperative Program—How it came about
Since its inception in 1845, the Southern Baptist
Convention (SBC) has always had one mission—the Great Commission
(Matt. 28:19-20). To fulfill its assigned part of this divine
mandate, each SBC entity made special offering appeals to the
churches. This method was referred to as the “societal”
approach to missions and resulted in severe financial deficits,
competition among entities, overlapping pledge campaigns, and
frequent emergency appeals which greatly hampered the expanding
ministry opportunities God was giving Southern Baptists. Some
entities took out loans to cover operating costs until pledges
or special offerings were received.
1919, the leaders of the SBC proposed the 75 Million Campaign,
a five-year pledge campaign that, for the first time,
included everything—the missions and ministries
of all the state conventions as well as that of the Southern
Baptist Convention. Though falling short of its goals,
a God-given partnership of missions support was conceived—The
Cooperative Program. Since its launch in 1925, the effectiveness
of the Cooperative Program has been dependent upon individuals,
churches, state conventions, and SBC entities cooperating,
working toward a common goal of sharing the gospel with
every person on the planet.
Cooperative Program — How
Simply put, it begins with you. You give yourself
first to God (2 Cor. 8:5). Next, out of gratitude and obedience
to God for what He has done for you, you commit to give back
to Him, through your church, a portion of what He provides.
This is commonly called a tithe and represents ten percent
of your income (Lev. 27:30, Mal. 3:10).
Your church decides the next step. Every year your
church prayerfully decides how much of its undesignated gifts
will be committed to reaching people in your state and around
the world through Cooperative Program. This amount is then
forwarded to your state Baptist convention.
the annual meeting of your state convention, messengers from
your church and other churches across the state decide what
percentage of Cooperative Program gifts contributed
by local congregations stays in your state to support local
missions and ministries. The percentage to be forwarded to
the Southern Baptist Convention for North American and international
missions and ministries is also determined at this time.
At the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting,
messengers from across the country decide how the gifts received
from the states will be distributed among SBC entities. These
gifts are used by Southern Baptist entities to send and support
missionaries, train pastors, and other ministry leaders; provide
relief for retired ministers and widows; and address social,
moral, and ethical concerns relating to our faith and families.
The bottom line – people around the world
hear the gospel and receive Christ.
Note: Your local Southern Baptist association
does not receive Cooperative Program gifts directly. It
ministers through gifts received directly from churches
and often receives Cooperative Program gifts indirectly
in the form of support from state conventions and the North
American Mission Board.
Cooperative Program — What
Churches in your state work together through your
state convention to support a wide array of ministries and missions
including: evangelism efforts, children’s homes, volunteer
missions, missions education, new churches, colleges and universities,
collegiate ministries, camps, and much more. For additional information
concerning your state convention, log on to www.sbc.net and click
on state conventions.
Through the International Mission Board (www.imb.org),
Southern Baptists support approximately 5,624 missionaries
who are engaging 655 people groups, of populations greater than 100,000, around
Church planting and evangelism efforts coordinated by your North American Mission Board (namb.net) and individual state conventions result in more than 1,000 evangelistic churches planted each year.
Working together, Southern Baptists saw 333,341
new believers baptized in 2011!
Six Southern Baptist seminaries (Southern, Southeastern,
Midwestern, Southwestern, Golden Gate, and New Orleans) educate
in excess of 16,000 pastors, missionaries, and future church
leaders each year.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is
dedicated to addressing social, moral, and ethical concerns, with
particular attention to their impact on American families and
their faith. They also provide print resources that offer scriptural
responses to the moral and ethical problems of our culture.
Although they receive no Cooperative Program
support, LifeWay Christian Resources, Guidestone Financial
Resources and the Woman’s
Missionary Union (WMU) actively promote Cooperative Program
in publications and missions resources.
Program — Its Potential
If “two are better than one” (Eccl.
4:9), how much better are more than 16 million? This is
the current membership in more than 45,000 Southern Baptist
churches across the United States. With a global population
exceeding 6.5 billion and a command to take the gospel to every
nation, we must enhance our cooperative efforts if we are going
to fulfill Christ’s command.
To help Cooperative Program reach
its potential, would you please:
Statistics collected from the 2010 Book of Reports and the 2010 Annual Church Profiles