CP DNASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – “The Difference” is easy to see.
By Art Toalston
Baptist Press Editor
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – “The Difference” is easy to see.
It’s a DVD being mailed to Southern Baptist churches across the country.
“The love of Southern Baptists is making a
difference through the Cooperative Program,” the cover of the DVD
The Difference DVD focuses on how Southern Baptists
have been at the leading edge of helping victims of Hurricane
Katrina, as well as victims of the tsunami in Asia, the
earthquake in Pakistan and other natural disasters.
“Pastors are supported” when Southern Baptists give through the Cooperative Program, the DVD cover notes.
“Congregations are being restored.
“Lives are being changed forever.”
The Cooperative Program, however, reaches far beyond
disaster relief: State by state, nationally and internationally, CP
gifts from Southern Baptist churches help impart the Gospel to people
in need of Christ within state lines and across North America and the
The Difference DVD, distributed by the Cooperative
Program office of the SBC Executive Committee, includes four video
segments of varying lengths that can be used in sermons or other parts
of a church service, Sunday School and any other setting to explain the
crucial role the Cooperative Program plays in the overall scope of
Southern Baptist outreach, from disaster relief to evangelization of
people worldwide in cities and across the countryside who do not know
the name of Jesus.
David E. Hankins, executive director of the
Katrina-impacted Louisiana Baptist Convention, states via the DVD: “The
wonderful thing about our Southern Baptist network and our Cooperative
Program mission funding process is that not only were our partners able
to come to our aid in this disaster, but not one other ministry failed
that was going on before the hurricane, except those right in the
“We didn’t have to bring home not one international
missionary because of the worst natural disaster to ever hit on U.S.
soil. Why? Because the Cooperative Program had that taken care of.
“Could you imagine,” Hankins continues, “if all
these affected areas had been supporting their missionaries just
directly out of their congregation, and their congregation [was]
“Not only would it stop that ministry here, but
those missionaries would have been left without a lifeline out there in
the faraway places in the world….
“Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program has taken
care of all these ministries – 24/7, 365, we’re still up and
running while we take on this additional task of rebuilding our
churches here in the path of Katrina,” Hankins notes.
A second Cooperative Program resource also is being
mailed to the SBC’s 43,000-plus churches: “When Saints Go Marching In”
by Hankins, who formerly was the Executive Committee’s vice president
for Cooperative Program, and Norm Miller, a freelance writer and an
ordained minister in Richmond, Va.
The small book likewise recounts “how and why
Southern Baptists” – the nation’s third-largest disaster relief
group (after the American Red Cross and Salvation Army) – “made
such a difference” in Katrina’s aftermath, the book’s cover states.
The DVD and book are the first in a line of
quarterly CP Missions resources to be released by the Cooperative
Program office of the Executive Committee.
Also being distributed in conjunction with
Cooperative Program day, April 9, in the Southern Baptist Convention: a
four-part series for state Baptist papers adapted from a 2005 book on
the Cooperative Program, “One Sacred Effort,” by Hankins and Chad
Brand, associate professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
The series addresses the “Great Need” at the heart
of the Cooperative Program – people amid “the world’s pain …
[who are] ready forthe Gospel”; the “Great Strategy” – one that
is thoughtful, prayerful, comprehensive and cooperative, as opposed to
competitive, for advancing the Gospel; the “Great Results” – with
“thousands of missionaries, thousands of seminary students and hundreds
of workers in children’s homes and other helping ministries” supported
through the Cooperative Program; and a “Great Obligation” –
responding to Jesus’ call: “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth
workers into the harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
NEW CP VISION
The Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee referenced
by Chapman reflects an unprecedented stirring among Baptist leaders
across the country to fortify Southern Baptists’ giving through the
The committee, encompassing eight state Baptist
executive directors, Chapman and Rogers, set forth a number of
recommendations and strategies, which received unanimous approval from
the state Baptist executive-directors during their mid-February annual
meeting in Canada.
The measures call for:
• “every segment of SBC life … to reaffirm
our commitment to biblical stewardship and to our cooperation in the
Great Commission/Acts 1:8 mission,” reflecting evangelism that
stretches from a church’s community to people who have yet to hear the
Gospel throughout the world.
• “each believer to tithe of his financial
resources to his local church and … all Southern Baptist churches to
adopt a missional mindset as they contribute at least 10 percent of
their undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program to local
and global missions.” High priority should be given to “the development
of quality stewardship training materials with an emphasis on tithing.”
• “the election of state and national
convention officers whose churches give at least 10 percent of their
undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.”
• “each state convention [to] have a plan for
forwarding an increasing percentage of receipts to SBC mission causes
through the Cooperative Program, with the Cooperative Program Advance
Plan being one possible model” as a way to give more through CP.
• “the 2006 SBC and state convention annual
meetings be used to launch an SBC-wide celebration of and emphasis on
the Cooperative Program.”
• the mobilizing of high-profile pastors as
“CP Champions” and recruiting churches to pilot a year-long
stewardship/Cooperative Program emphasis to build awareness of the
impact a church can have via CP Missions in fulfilling the Great
• state and national publications “to actively
include CP stories and information as regular features in every
issue…. The CP connections must be clearly stated in each article; we
cannot assume our people know all that is accomplished through their
participation in the CP.”
• mission trips to be linked with the
Cooperative Program to “help churches understand that volunteer
missions should be built on the foundation of their giving through the
CP, not in place of it.”
The recommendations are “a historic step forward as
Southern Baptists in the work of the Cooperative Program,” Anthony
Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of
Oklahoma, said during the Executive Committee’s Feb. 20-21 meeting in
Chapman agreed, noting, “… [I]f we follow all the
way through with it, it will be a historic breakthrough for the Kingdom
[and] for Southern Baptists.”
The Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee report
joins two other recently released CP reports that together indicate a
growing momentum to revitalize the Cooperative Program as the primary
giving channel to promote worldwide missions, ministries and
• the SBC Funding Study Committee, an
11-member group created by the Executive Committee in 2002, which
issued one of its ongoing reports to the Executive Committee Feb. 20
with various recommendations by which SBC entities could give greater
visibility and promotion to the Cooperative Program.
• the Task Force on Cooperation, an
eight-member group of four state executives and four SBC entity heads
created jointly by the state execs and the SBC Great Commission Council
of SBC entity heads in 2000, which issued a report last September, with
a number of recommendations paralleling the Ad Hoc Cooperative Program
Such recommendations likely will prompt a hearty
amen from pastors across the country convinced that their churches’
gifts through the Cooperative Program make a difference worldwide.
“Every church has its own identity,” pastor Tim
Marrow of First Baptist Church of West Albuquerque, said in a CP
feature carried by Baptist Press, “but [the Cooperative Program] is
something every Southern Baptist church can be a part of, so that every
person has an opportunity to hear the Gospel before Jesus returns.”
Pastor David Pope of Western Avenue Baptist Church
in Connersville, Ind., “Where else can a church’s financial investment
reap such eternal rewards…? Through the Cooperative Program we get to
have a hand in all six SBC seminaries, affect policy in our nation’s
capital, and have a hand in missionary efforts all around the world.
It’s a unique team process. There’s nothing like it and I believe it is
just one reason Southern Baptists remain so effective.”
Pastor Calvin Wittman of Applewood Baptist Church in
Wheat Ridge, Colo., said, “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? 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 tithe?”
Wittman said. “I know there are other ways of doing missions, but there
is no better way than the Cooperative Program.”
“[It] is the most effective way to reach the world
with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why we’re involved with it.
We’re a missions-minded church.”