By Baptist Message staff
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Louisiana Baptists are in the final year of implementing the President’s 2020 Commission Report, an initiative undertaken during the leadership of Waylon Bailey, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Covington, and the LBC president in 2012-2013.
The 2020 recommendations were crafted collaboratively by a commission of 400 Louisiana Baptist leaders, staff members and laypeople, working in 20 subcommittees of 20 members each. Ten “key actions in reaching our state” – known as KAIROS – were developed to engage two audiences – the next generation and every people group. These measures for improving the spiritual health and growth of the state were adopted by messengers at the 2013 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.
This article is the 10th in a series published by the Baptist Message to report what successes have been achieved toward the ambitious goals of the statewide initiative, as well as to note what objectives remain to be done.
Increase financial support through the Cooperative Program and the special mission offerings.
Several attempts have been made to increase Cooperative Program support over the seven-year span of the 2020 initiative. While those efforts generated some interest, they have not been enough to reverse the downward trend in CP giving, Louisiana Baptist leaders said.
According to the LBC Annual Reports, CP giving has decreased, from $21,339,632 gifts received in 2013 to $18,342,175 in 2019.
Furthermore, giving to the Georgia Barnette Offering for State Missions also has seen a decline, from $1,982,759 gifts received in 2013 to $1,521,351 in 2019. However, last year’s Georgia Barnette saw an increase from the previous year’s total of $1,409,090.
The Pledge was one of the first official efforts to generate increased CP participation.
Launched in 2015, The Pledge was a pastor-driven initiative designed to highlight the effectiveness of cooperative missions and ministries. Steve Horn, then pastor of First Baptist Church, Lafayette, and president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, led the first phase of this effort followed by Gevan Spinney, his successor and pastor of First Baptist Church, Haughton, who spearheaded the second phase.
Additional efforts included use of print, video, web and social media to inform churches of how their participation in CP is empowering missions and ministries in Louisiana and beyond. Special offerings such as the Georgia Barnette Offering have seen an occasional spike due to a large gift.
Horn, now the executive director for Louisiana Baptists, publically stated his commitment to CP when he assumed his new role in May 2019.
“I will be a champion of the Cooperative Program,” he said. “A former church member of mine regularly asked the question ‘is this the best we can do’ relating to our CP giving. This is the question we must ask at every level of Louisiana Baptist life.”