Your church has huge staff
April 20 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

During a few days last week among Baptist communicators whose ministry is to inform and encourage their constituencies about the ministries they perform together, my appreciation was renewed for the Cooperative Program giving of local Baptist churches.

April 26 is Cooperative Program Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention and, while I don’t expect many churches to hold special events commemorating the day, it is important to remind ourselves that we are a part of something big. No matter where you are in church, whether you attend a tiny church with a part-time pastor and a volunteer who lights the stove on winter Sunday mornings, or you’re one of a cast of thousands at some of our largest churches, you have a staff of thousands because of the Cooperative Program.

Allan Blume says that every church should consider each missionary, at home and abroad and at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) office in Cary, a part of their church staff. Each consultant and program person at the BSC works for you and is available — and anxious — to come to your church to help you develop ministry. Every faculty member at CP supported colleges and seminaries is “on your staff” because you help pay their salary and enable their ministry.

At a presentation in Nashville, Tenn., of Baptist communicators’ best work I was struck again by the depth and breadth of places where Southern Baptist missionaries are wielding the gospel light of Jesus to push back the darkness.

I was struck too, by the creativity, innovation and sheer audacity with which they operate in North Carolina, the United States and across the world.

It is impossible to carry in these pages more than a flavor of the incredible stories being written by your missionaries.

Both the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board have publications to which you can subscribe and are continually developing websites that carry specific stories, pictures and sound that will inform and encourage you.

You can view slide and sound shows, photos, stories and videos from the field at www.commissionstories.com for the IMB and at www.namb.net for the North American Mission Board.

It is inspiring to hear the testimonies and see the pictures of internationals reaching their fellow countrymen inside America; of a man ministering in the worst of Brazil’s slums; of a journeyman going to live two years in the jungles of Peru before he knew any of the tribe’s language.

But before you assume that Cooperative Program ministries are only those ministries that occur outside of your state, let me remind you of a few facts.

North Carolina is a large and fast growing state, with a population approaching nine million. Assuming, as many evangelism leaders do, that one-half the population has made no saving commitment to Jesus Christ, that leaves a lost population of about 4.5 million.

The size of the lost population in North Carolina is larger than the total population of 85 nations and 27 other states. North Carolina is a mission field.

Of course, unlike many mission fields, this one is dotted with churches and populated with a million Baptists who claim that they love the other half of the population so much they are willing to do whatever it takes to reach them.

The ministries of the Baptist State Convention were established to help local churches reach that lost population. Blume is right.

The BSC staff is your staff.

Although you might feel intimidated to call (800) 395-5102 and ask for someone to come help you build a Sunday School, or start a pre-school or train your people in evangelism or lead a successful Vacation Bible School, there is no need. Staff is accessible, willing and eager to help.

And they are good at what they do.

After an emphasis on church planting next issue, the Biblical Recorder is beginning a series featuring the BSC consultants and churches that have utilized their work to great effect.

Through Cooperative Program giving you have staff available to help you in almost every conceivable ministry area. If there is no one at the Baptist staff office in Cary with the specific expertise you need, someone there will gladly connect you with such a person.

The Cooperative Program began in 1925, bridging regional differences among Southern Baptists and uniting a disparate band of Christians in common ministry to reach a world that was crying then and still cries out from the depths of hungry souls. One beauty of CP is that it is completely voluntary. Your members decide what part of their gifts to forward to global ministries outside of their own walls.

In early days, many churches strived to give 10 percent of undesignated funds. Some churches have been in circumstances that enabled them to send 20 percent and on rare occasions, even 30 percent of their gifts to ministry outside themselves.

The average N.C. church gift hovers closer to six percent in recent years due in some measure to focus on points that divide, rather on purposes that unite, and — according to a study committee commissioned  by the SBC Executive Committee — the election to national office of leaders whose churches did not demonstrate a commitment to Southern Baptist ministries through the Cooperative Program.

Giving to missions through the Cooperative Program is the first test of membership in the BSC. There is only one other, and that is to “be in friendly cooperation” with the purposes of the Convention. Typically, about 800 churches give nothing to missions through the Cooperative Program.

On the other end of the spectrum, the gifts of several churches in North Carolina each total more than one-half of one percent of the entire state budget. No matter the size of your CP contribution, it matters. Any cut bleeds.

As you consider ways to impact the world for Jesus, read the Biblical Recorder, visit the websites of the Recorder and of your mission boards and state Convention and see the effective ministries enabled by your Cooperative Program missions gifts.

4/20/2009 7:40:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments




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