Missionary testimonies during the June 11-12 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting in Houston, Texas, challenged messengers to do more to advance the gospel through the Cooperative Program.
“Unapologetically we promote the Cooperative Program. We believe it fuels and advances SBC ministries in a powerful way,” said Frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee.
Page shared that this year the Executive Committee, as it did last year, reduced its Cooperative Program funding allocations so that more can be given to missions and ministries.
“We want to lower bureaucratic overhead so that more goes to reach the nations for Christ. When you talk about us giving to missions and ministries, we mean it with all our heart,” he said.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) leadership has joined Page in support of the 1% Challenge and is asking all N.C. Baptist churches to increase Cooperative Program giving by one percent.
Since 2006 the BSC Cooperative Program budget has shifted a greater percentage of ministry dollars to the SBC for international missions, North American missions and equipping leaders through SBC seminaries.
Photo by Matt Miller
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC), leads Rosalia Razo to Christ at a block party June 8 during Crossover 2013. Page told messengers the EC reduced its Cooperative Program funding allocation again so more money can go toward missions.
If all 4,300 BSC churches accept the 1% Challenge the result would be $3.9 million additional for N.C. ministries and $2.1 million for SBC ministries.
The BSC would be able to help churches start 26 more churches each year across the state.
Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute would be able to train 41 more pastors and leaders each year. And each month 155 more children would be loved and cared for by the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina.
“We have seen firsthand the benefit of the Cooperative Program and we want to do our part to give back so that other churches can be blessed as we have been blessed,” said Patrick Fuller, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Greensboro and chairman of the BSC Board of Directors Congregational Services Committee. “It is our job as leaders to put the Cooperative Program before our people.”
Leland Kerr has also led his congregation, Eastside Baptist Church in Shelby, to accept the 1% Challenge.
Kerr grew up a pastor’s son, graduated from a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and has family serving overseas as missionaries. He knows the impact and value of the Cooperative Program.
“One percent is doable for even a church with a small budget; the one percent is still part of them moving forward to help support the Cooperative Program.”
During the SBC meeting, Page called on different individuals to give testimony to the Cooperative Program at work. For example, Gregg and Donna Fort, International Mission Board missionaries who have served in Zimbabwe for 26 years, are supported through the Cooperative Program. “The Cooperative Program has assured that we are cared for and can focus on missions in Zimbabwe,” Gregg said.
The Forts have witnessed God do great things among the people of Zimbabwe, and urged Southern Baptists to send more missionaries to the international mission field. “As Jesus Christ was incarnated among us, incarnational missions is still by far the very best way to carry the message of Jesus Christ into this world,” he said.
As Southern Baptists support the Cooperative Program they support collegiate church planters like Keith and Page Wieser, who started collegiate churches on the campuses of Washington State University and the University of Idaho. What began as seven college students meeting in a coffee shop turned into 850 students meeting at two locations for worship services.
In addition to international missions and collegiate ministry, through the Cooperative Program Southern Baptists also support North American Mission Board missionaries and church planters such as Jeremy Westbrook.
Earlier this year Westbrook celebrated the four-year anniversary of Living Hope Church in Marysville, Ohio. This church baptized more than 100 people during that time.
“When you think about the Cooperative Program, I urge you, I plead with you, to think about guys like me who want to plant churches in Ohio, and across the Midwest, and from nation to nation,” he said.
Marysville is included in the greater metro area of Columbus, Ohio, which is the 15th largest city in the country.
“While I will not forget the rural and small places, we know that most people have moved to North American cities,” Page said. To learn more about the Cooperative Program and the 1% Challenge visit www.ncbaptist.org/cp.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Buddy Overman, BSC Communications, contributed to this report. See SBC 2013 for more about the annual meeting.)