The propagation of the gospel has long been the vision of the Southern Baptist Convention. For more than 175 years, we have extended this call to churches to rally and direct our energies to this one shared vision: The propagation of the gospel.
The call to cooperation went to a new level in 1925 when the Cooperative Program was proposed and established. There was a deep belief that financial cooperation between our churches would provide a new and greater commitment to the fulfillment of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
We are part of a convention that cherishes sending and supporting missionaries, evangelism, planting new gospel churches, providing theological education to prepare those called to ministry and demonstrating compassion for those who need relief in times of disaster and great need.
This is why the Cooperative Program’s early adopters believed this strategy could become the best way to fund Southern Baptists’ work across America and the world. Since its beginning in 1925, there have been many moments in Baptist life when cooperation became challenging. I believe we are in one of the most threatening moments related to our cooperation yet.
This is why we need to come back home to Great Commission cooperation.
When we elevate every issue to be as great as the work of the Great Commission, we are going to jeopardize our cooperation. Baptists have long stood upon our deep and rich heritage of beliefs as stated in The Baptist Faith and Message and have cooperated ultimately for one cause: The Great Commission. I plead with all Southern Baptists to come back home to Great Commission cooperation.
When we make every issue our top priority, we fight about everything. Contentions and threats arise and increase, leading our Convention to have a poor testimony before the world. Furthermore, it results in division, which is always detrimental to the propagation of the gospel.
Let me ask you today:
- Do most Southern Baptists, if not all of us, believe in the divine inspiration, absolute authority, infallibility and sufficiency of the Holy Scripture, believing it is truth without any mixture of error? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
- Do most Southern Baptists believe and adhere to The Baptist Faith and Message, which demonstrates the rich heritage of our deepest beliefs? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
- Do most Southern Baptists believe people need Jesus Christ and we must always prioritize global evangelization and the Great Commission; meaning, we are called to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Friends, when we add anything else to this list, our cooperation becomes threatened, and we get caught in division and strife.
Baptists are a people who believe deeply that the Bible is the Word of God and Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of the entire world. Therefore, standing upon the authority of God’s Word and all we believe about it, we must do all we can to work together to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
As IMB President Paul Chitwood has stated numerous times: “When the Great Commission is not the lead topic of conversation in the SBC, the other topics divide us.” I agree completely.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have been in way too many conversations that will only divide us. It is past time for the Great Commission to always be the lead topic of conversation in our Southern Baptist family.
We need to come back home to Great Commission cooperation.
Now is the time to lead.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention.)