By Rogers S. Oldham, Executive Editor SBC Life
A drop of rain.
A seed of corn.
A thin red cent.
None, by itself, seems significant. But collectively — and cooperatively — a drop joining with other drops of rain becomes a deluge. The grains of corn feed an army. The thin red cent funds a movement.
[img_assist|nid=6322|title=Roger S. Oldham, Executive Editor SBC Life|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=70|height=100]The Cooperative Program is like that. The gifts I give out of obedience to my Lord join with other gifts to provide a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus, spiritual food for the hungry soul, and support for sending laborers to the ends of the earth.
The church I served in Northwest Tennessee for twenty-one years was a “10 percent and more” Cooperative Program church. This means that at any given time at least ten cents out of every dollar contributed to the church budget was forwarded by the church to the Cooperative Program.
The state where I lived became a “40 percent state.” This means of the ten cents of each dollar my church contributed to the Cooperative Program, six cents remained in Tennessee while four cents (40 percent) were forwarded to the SBC.
Once the Southern Baptist Convention received these funds from
A few cents worth can fund a movement for the glory of Godthe state, 50 percent went to the IMB, 22.79 percent went to NAMB, 22.16 percent went to the seminaries, and the remaining 5 percent went to the ERLC and the SBC Operating Budget, of which the Executive Committee received about 2.5 percent.
Let’s do the math. For each dollar that I gave to my church, ten cents went to the state. Of the four cents the state forwarded to the SBC, a little less than one cent went to NAMB, a little less than one cent went to seminary education, an incremental amount went to the other ministries named above, and two cents went to international missions.
It doesn’t sound like much, but these dollars add up. Cumulatively, collectively, cooperatively, these small amounts began as a trickle, but soon became a swelling stream until our national and international ministries were able to flood the nations.
WOW! My few cents worth — my drop of rain — becomes part of a mighty torrent that floods the nations. My grain of corn is as significant as the granaries Joseph built to feed the nations.
My thin red cent becomes part of a multi-million dollar enterprise that enables thousands of missionaries to serve far as part of a well-equipped Great Commission task force.
Cooperation results in the power of the many. If every church member is obedient to the Lord and tithes, the reality is not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.
Unfortunately, every church member does not tithe. The average member contributes 2.55 percent of his/her disposable income (not gross income, but disposable income) to his or her church. On average, our cooperating churches retain 94 cents out of every dollar to use in ways that seemed wise to them, forwarding, on average, just over six cents out of each dollar through the Cooperative Program. Our states, on average, also fall slightly under the 40 percent threshold.
In 2008, SBC churches received more than $9 billion (yes, that’s nine billion) in general budget receipts. But this was not a tithe. It represents about one-fourth of a tithe (if the tithe is calculated from the amount of one’s disposable income).
Always short of money, the churches retained 94 cents out of every dollar for use under local control. The states retained 3.814 cents of the six cents they received, forwarding 2.267 cents to the SBC. Of these few cents, the IMB received 1.134 cents of each dollar contributed to the churches.
But due to the collective power of millions of faithful donors, these 1.134 cents resulted in more than $102 million going to the IMB to help reach the nations. For each one percent in average gifts from the local church to the Cooperative Program, the IMB received $16,808,024.
If our cooperating churches had forwarded a mere 7 percent (the amount they contributed in 2003), IMB would have received, not $102 million, but $117 million. At 8 percent (the amount they contributed in 2000), this would have amounted to $134 million, more than offsetting last year’s $29 million shortfall in the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
But, and this is so significant, at 8 percent giving from the churches, NAMB would also have received an additional $15 million for strategic church planting.
The seminaries would have received an additional $14 million to expand their educational opportunities for pastors and other church workers. A rising tide really does raise all the boats. This is the power of cooperation.
A drop of rain. A seed of corn. A thin red cent. None, by itself, seems significant. But, collectively, the drops of rain become a deluge. The grains of corn feed an army. And the thin red cents fund a movement — all for the glory of God.