Do you ever wonder how you can make an impact for Christ in your state, nation and around the world? As Southern Baptists, we have the best way to combine our financial resources and make a difference. This tried and true concept is based upon partnership and mutual trust, while also providing local church autonomy.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has designated April 9 as Cooperative Program Sunday. This observance provides our churches with an opportunity to celebrate our unique, God-given approach to Kingdom-focused missions and ministry support that has impacted countless numbers of people across the globe. Allow me to describe how this process works.
First, we are challenged to give beyond ourselves. That means we honor God by giving a tenth of our income to our church. This giving combines with the giving of other fellow members and empowers your church to minister to and reach the local community and beyond.
Subsequently, your church gives a percentage of all undesignated receipts to mission support through the SBC Cooperative Program (CP) plan to join with other N.C. Baptist churches in supporting missions beyond your community. My church forwards 10 percent of our undesignated receipts to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Next, the funds your church forwards to the BSC are combined with contributions from other N.C. Baptist churches to resource a budget that is developed, discussed and approved by messengers from member churches each November.
This budget provides basic funding for Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Fruitland Baptist Bible College, the N.C. Baptist Aging Ministry and many other ministries. It also allocates funding for convention staff to help strengthen existing N.C. Baptist churches. Our Church Planting Team partners with churches, associations and networks to help start new churches where needed. Newcomers to our state speak more than 300 languages because they have come from all over the world. CP helps enable us to present the gospel in ways these immigrants can understand.
CP funding enabled our staff to identify 250 areas where there are concentrations of our state’s 5.8 million lost people. We are providing leaders and training to enable local Baptists to reach those pockets of lostness, where upwards of 60 percent of the residents have no relationship with Christ.
The next step in the value of supporting missions through CP relates to how many of our CP dollars go way beyond our state. In 2006, the BSC sent 32 percent of our CP budget to the SBC, and N.C. Baptists determined to increase that percentage incrementally. Now, in 2017, we are forwarding 40.5 percent of our CP receipts to the SBC. I hope we will continue to increase the percentage as CP income from our churches continues to grow. If we reach our 2017 budget goal, we will send $12.3 million to the SBC in addition to the millions of dollars we will send from special missions offerings collected by our churches.
I reported last November during my report to messengers attending our annual meeting that the BSC forwarded to the SBC the largest amount we have ever given to support SBC missions and ministries. In the SBC’s fiscal year that ended last September, the BSC sent $11.4 million for CP and $21.1 million in designated offerings for a total of $32.5 million to SBC causes. We give all praise and thanks to God for this achievement.
Supporting missions through the CP is how we help support the six Southern Baptist seminaries, including Southeastern here in our state, with more than 18,000 students paying half the usual seminary tuition. Thus, we go far beyond what a single church could do in preparing future church leaders and SBC missionaries.
CP is how N.C. Baptists help support about 8,000 full-time North American and international missionaries working to reach nearly 900 unreached people groups around the world, train the next generation of leaders at six seminaries and much more. Supporting missions through the CP enables every giver and every local church to make an impact for Christ in our state, throughout North America and around the world. We can accomplish more combining our resources and working together in partnership than we can working alone.
Will you join other N.C. Baptists in giving to missions through the Cooperative Program? When you do, you are making an active difference for God’s kingdom advance in our state, our nation and in our world.