As a pastor and former missionary, Calvin Wittman says he often wonders how many more people could be reached if churches expanded their participation in Cooperative Program missions.
As a pastor and former missionary, Calvin Wittman
says he often wonders how many more people could be reached if churches
expanded their participation in Cooperative Program missions.
“A pastor has to ask, what could we do in impacting
the lostness in our world if every person would get involved in the
Cooperative Program?” says Wittman, pastor at Applewood Baptist Church
in Wheat Ridge, Colo. “How many more people could be reached? What
could we do if every church cooperated the way they want their members
“If we’re not, as a church, giving at least 10
percent to the Cooperative Program, how can we ask our members to
Wittman says there is not a better way for persons to do missions than the Cooperative Program.
“The Cooperative Program is the most effective way
to reach the world with the gospel,” says Wittman, a former Southern
Baptist missionary to Spain. “That’s why we’re involved with it. We’re
a missions-minded church.”
This year, Applewood members are ministering in
Belarus, Brazil, Kenya, Hong Kong, Romania and London. In the United
States, they are serving in California, across Colorado and throughout
the Denver area. Since the 1970s, the church has sent out 1,200
volunteers in short-term projects in 35 nations.
“We believe every member should be a minister,”
Wittman says. “You can’t just get involved with your money. It’s time
that matters in the kingdom of God. You have to be willing to give of
About 800 people attend two Sunday morning worship
services at Applewood. The church focuses on a five-facet thrust to
impact the world – worship, witness, welcome, work, word. In doing so,
it provides support for five missions – a Romanian one; a Vietnamese
one; one in inner-city Denver; one in Brighton, Colo.; and one in
“It irks me that people will buy an RV and go to the
lake for a month, but they won’t invest a couple thousand dollars and a
couple weeks in eternity by going to a foreign country and sharing the
gospel with people who have never heard,” Wittman says. “Either we are
or aren’t disciples. If we are, then, each of us should be involved in
some way in sharing the gospel.”
The Great Commission charge to the church starts at
home, Wittman insists. “We lead our state in Cooperative Program
giving, … but the Great Commission says we will be witnesses in
Jerusalem, too,” he points out. “You can’t reach just the uttermost
part of the world and neglect Jerusalem.”
Major church events is one of the ways Applewood
members welcome the community to what the church has to offer. At
Christmas, it is the sanctuary dressed up in Victorian England splendor
as a backdrop for the annual production of “Scrooge.”
Celebrate America takes place the Sunday before the 4th of July.
This year, 124 classic cars registered for a car
show, which also included typical block party activities,
mini-concerts, an honor guard presentation and the release of doves
during the National Anthem.
Applewood’s outward focus starts by preparing its
members. A new members class is followed by one designed to help
persons identify their area of ministry. Weekday classes provide more
training – from CPR instruction to parenting to Christian apologetics.
All such efforts lead to missions.
“In the past three decades, Applewood has
commissioned 24 career missionaries into foreign missions,” says Robert
Oxford, the church’s director of missions. “Teams from Applewood have
ministered in 35 countries. We have been involved in starting six
churches in Colorado and a dozen or more churches internationally. It
has been our privilege and honor to share the Gospel and serve the Lord
around the world.” (BP)