Chapman calls for sacrificial giving
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
February 24, 2010

Chapman calls for sacrificial giving

Chapman calls for sacrificial giving
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
February 24, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The

Cooperative Program (CP) is the greatest missions funding mechanism in the

history of Christendom and must be supported by sacrificial giving, Morris H.

Chapman said in his final address to the Executive Committee in Nashville,

Tenn., Feb. 22.

“The Cooperative Program is a highly valued resource for missions, ministries

and theological education,” said Chapman, who has announced his plans to retire

as Executive Committee president in September.

Southern Baptists’ combined giving results in 86 percent of every dollar

received for national causes going to the International Mission Board and the

North American Mission Board, Chapman said.

This includes all Cooperative Program

gifts, mission offerings and designated offerings to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) entities.

“We can rejoice in the 86 percent that is being given to our mission boards

from all the combined offerings that come to the Southern Baptist Convention,” Chapman said.

The remaining 14 percent is used to support theological education in six

seminaries, as well as the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and

facilitating ministries (SBC operating budget).

The Southern Baptist Convention has a need for “highly respected and greatly

loved pastors who will stand up and declare the Cooperative Program for the

missions and theological educational lifeline that it is and ask all pastors to

do the same in their churches,” Chapman said.

As he departs his role as Executive Committee president, Chapman said his

prayer will be that the Cooperative Program will reach greater heights than

ever since its inception in 1925.

The Cooperative Program, he said, is a unique

gift from God.

“Many other denominations wish they knew how to receive it, how to spend it,

how to get it together. None have ever been successful. I don’t know why God

chose to give the Cooperative Program to us, but it is a treasure,” he said.

Photo by Morris Abernathy

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee, said the Cooperative Program must be supported by the kind of sacrificial giving demonstrated by the widow in Mark 12.

Chapman advised against shifting funds from one ministry to another amid

financial challenges.

“(CP) reallocation among the SBC entities is not the road to revival, nor will

it create drastic changes in the witness of our convention. Reallocation to one

entity takes away from another entity,” Chapman said. “The pie cannot be

stretched any further than 100 percent. The amount of the gifts must increase.

That’s the answer.

“The decline of the Cooperative Program is rooted in the failure of today’s

church members to practice biblical stewardship and the failure of pastors to

cast a vision that stirs the hearts of God’s people to engage in direct

missions sponsored by the church and to give generously through the Cooperative

Program in order that our collective witness will be an eternal flame for

Christ,” Chapman said.

In just over one decade, the average percentage of undesignated receipts that

churches give through the Cooperative Program has declined from 10 percent to 6


“If our churches would raise their Cooperative Program gifts by an average of 1

percent, the Cooperative Program increase for all SBC entities would be $36

million in a given year. The International Mission Board alone would receive

half of that amount or $18 million. The six seminaries would receive roughly $1

million,” Chapman said.

He pointed to the parable of the widow’s mite in Mark 12, where the woman gave

to God all of the money she owned. Though the amount was small, the sacrifice

was enormous.

“Jesus had designed the teaching moment to illustrate that people usually look

at the amount to determine Kingdom worth, when instead they should be looking

either to the proportion or the sacrifice,” Chapman said. “The greater lesson

to be learned from God’s word is that our giving is to be sacrificial.”

A lack of sacrificial giving among Southern Baptists in general is a matter of

the heart, Chapman said, and it must be corrected if the convention hopes for a

stable future.

“In my opinion, the old Southern Baptist ship of Zion is not sailing steadily.

It is being battered by the winds and the waves, but that’s not unusual for

this old ship,” Chapman said. “In the years I have served you, I sought to add

ballasts in one place or another to give the seafaring craft increased


“But it appears that we have seldom sailed on glassy seas and maybe never will.

Perhaps I sought in times to do the impossible. … I do believe, however, that

someone had to be at the helm of the ship and I am thankful God gave me the

opportunity to do my best although we may not have reached perfectly peaceful

waters and a safe harbor.

“Today in America, I fear that too much is all about us rather than all about

God. The present generations have convinced themselves that it is, after all,

about them,” Chapman said.

“When Satan catches us off stride, sleeping at the

wheel or staring into space, the father of lies leaps into action to keep us

from taking the leap of faith required to refocus upon Jesus and not ourselves.

“May we all together as Southern Baptists sail the seas more effectively in the

years to come.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)