Four Southern Baptist pastors will be casting vision for the Cooperative Program (CP) in different regions of the country as part of the “young leaders” initiative of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee (EC).
Nathan Millican, Chad Keck, Curtis Cook and Matt Crawford
The pastors who will be telling the CP story and promoting its vision for the next generation of pastors and leaders are Nathan Millican of Foothills Baptist Church in Phoenix; Chad Keck of First Baptist Church in Kettering, Ohio; Curtis Cook of Hope Fellowship Church in Cambridge, Mass.; and Matt Crawford of First Baptist Church in Sebring, Fla.
Much of their effort in the West, Midwest, Northeast and South, respectively, will focus on online engagement through social media and other channels, said Ashley Clayton, vice president for Cooperative Program and stewardship with the Executive Committee.
The catalysts also will arrange meetings geared for young pastors during major events that Southern Baptist pastors already attend, such as the SBC annual meeting, SEND conferences and state Baptist convention meetings. The four catalysts will continue serving full-time at their respective churches.
Frank S. Page, the Executive Committee’s president, noted, “In ways that have probably never happened before, at least that I am aware of, we are aggressively and intentionally making efforts to engage the SBC’s young leaders. A person might ask, ‘Why is the Executive Committee doing this?’ Simple: We are doing this to continue our legacy of cooperation for the Great Commission.
“If you’re a young pastor, the EC wants you to know that we value your voice. We are grateful for your engagement through the Cooperative Program and in the SBC,” Page said. “We want to support you in your ministry, and we want to continue to partner with you to glorify God by making disciples of all nations.”
The four CP catalysts, in comments to SBC LIFE, journal of the SBC Executive Committee, underscored the value of cooperative missions and ministries.
Millican emphasized how churches across America are “better together” as they collaborate through the Cooperative Program.
“Imagine your church attempting to fully fund a missionary in Central Asia to reach Muslims. The financial burden would be great, and the burden would be compounded as you think through the pervasive lostness in Central Asia,” Millican said. “But imagine the joy and impact of a myriad of men and women rallying together to equip, resource and fund a couple to go to Central Asia.
“The Cooperative Program continues to be effective and impactful in taking the gospel across the street, across our state and across the globe so people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ,” Millican said. “Sure, things could always be better, more efficient; but let’s keep our hand to the plow and, by God’s grace and the work of the Spirit, lead our congregations to exude and pursue the value that we are truly better together.”
Keck, who served as second vice president of the SBC in 2015-2016, explained how he had personally benefited from the Cooperative Program as a student at Oklahoma Baptist University and then Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Keck said he also has had “the privilege of serving alongside numerous International Mission Board missionaries on short-term trips and North American Mission Board church planters through church partnerships to see how giving through CP impacts lostness.”
Cook said Hope Fellowship Church is delighted to pay forward for others the partnership that helped their congregation launch and grow strong.
“Working to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Northeast is both an exhilarating opportunity and a daunting challenge,” Cook said. “Over the past 13 years in Boston, we have experienced firsthand the blessing of Kingdom partnership through the Cooperative Program.
“When we started our church, we were blessed by the sacrificial partnership that played a key role in helping this new work begin,” Cook said. “In the early years of our church, we found great joy in being able to partner with other churches through CP to help support missionaries around the world when we could never do that by ourselves. And now we experience partnership in new ways as we are able to help plant churches in partnership with others and have seen members of our church go and serve among the nations.”
Matt Crawford, who, like Keck, is a product of Southern Baptist cooperative missions, noted, “As a lifelong Florida Baptist blessed through the educational opportunities provided by the Cooperative Program, I am so grateful for the opportunity to broaden the CP conversation with my generation of Southern Baptist pastors.
“There is no greater cause for us to work together to support, as we seek to glorify our Savior through completing the Great Commission. We’ve got to continue to tell the story of CP and cast a compelling vision for our cooperation around what is most important,” Crawford said.
Earlier this year, the Executive Committee appointed a Young Leader Advisory Council, chaired by Jordan Easley, senior pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn. In March, the EC advisory council announced a 21-question survey at TalkCP.com to assess the attitudes and overall engagement of young leaders across the SBC.
The Executive Committee and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) also are launching a young leader initiative to engage pastors between the ages of 25 and 45 more effectively. NAMB has enlisted Jonathan Akin, former pastor of Fairview Church in Lebanon, Tenn., and cofounder of the B21 blog and annual meeting panel discussions, to lead the effort to engage those who are disconnected or minimally involved in Southern Baptist life.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by freelance writer Mark Kelly for SBC LIFE.)