When David Sommerville became pastor at Southside Baptist Church in Parkersburg, W. Va., he already knew a practice he wanted to establish.
For 25 years at his previous in-state pastorate of First Baptist Craigsville, Sommerville had always included a missions moment in the worship service.
“It made the missionaries ‘real’ to people,” he said. “I wanted others to learn a little bit more about them.”
At Southside, Sommerville has continued that through (Cooperative Program) CP Stories, a resource tailored for churches to spend a few minutes informing members and guests of Southern Baptist missions around the world.
“CP Stories has been very helpful. It’s personalized missionaries to let our members know there are actual humans attached to those mission dollars,” he said.
Gifts from Southern Baptist churches and individuals given through the CP serve as the financial engine for sending missionaries. Previously known as “52 Sundays,” CP Stories includes access to a printable PDF as well as PowerPoint slides.
The resources read as a script from a first-person perspective, so a church leader, adult or student can easily share the material with the congregation. In each service, churches can have a missions moment that includes, for instance:
- Robert and Karen Pinkston’s church planting efforts in Quebec
- Jim and Teresa Flora’s work alongside Southern Baptist mission teams in Lesotho
- Ralph and Lovie Adair’s (names changed) witnessing opportunities among Muslims in South Asia.
The CP Stories library can be found here. Missionaries featured include those through the International Mission Board (IMB), North American Mission Board and state conventions.
Hopewell Baptist Church in Chesterfield, S.C., gives 12% of undesignated receipts to the CP, Pastor Phil Wyatt said. He uses CP Stories for church members to witness how their gifts support sharing the gospel.
“I want our church to see where that money is going,” he said. “Even if some information on the missionaries is [undisclosed] for security reasons, it gives us a name to pray for.”
CP Stories has generated missions-centered conversations at Hopewell. One couple who had traveled to Maine remembered observing a lack of churches there after watching a CP Story about that state. Another member who has taken mission trips to Honduras brings additional information when that country is featured. Wyatt, who served in the Army for nine years, pays particular attention to installments on countries or areas where he was stationed such as Korea, Japan and the Middle East.
“Stories like that get you thinking,” he said.
Roger Philips, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Fruitland, Fla., has incorporated a missionary moment at whatever church he has led for 20 years. CP Stories helps him continue that practice at Beulah, where he began serving just four months ago.
“I had a professor at the Baptist College of Florida, Mark Rathel, who suggested a missions moment of some sort in our services,” Philips said. “It worked. Our people would remember the missionaries from those times.”
Philips recalled one particularly memorable featured missionary couple – his daughter and son-in-law Mike and Heather McAfee, serving through the IMB in Ivory Coast. Such personal connections help make missions real, he said, and resources like CP Stories go a long way toward that goal.
“It’s a very accessible, appropriate tool to incorporate into your worship service. It’s a vital part of who we are as Southern Baptists,” Philips said.
Altogether, 103 individual CP Stories have thus far highlighted Southern Baptist mission work by individuals, couples and families in numerous states and countries. The context of that work includes church planting, reaching out to immigrants and evangelism in countries where the government has made preaching the gospel illegal. The missionaries’ work is accomplished in streets and cafes, as well as in schools, hospitals and their own homes.
The CP is the unified plan of giving adopted by Southern Baptists. Through CP, cooperating SBC churches give a percentage of their undesignated receipts to support their respective state convention as well as Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries around the world.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.)