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What Does CP Really Stand For?

God so loved the world…

Baptists have always believed that salvation grows from the love of God. In the same way that “God sent His only Son” to demonstrate His love for the world, Baptists formed a convention in 1845 to send missionaries around the world with the gospel message of love and forgiveness. It was the right decision, for today more than 10,000 missionaries serve the Lord through the efforts of our churches.

Love is not enough…

God’s love for the world was not just a feeling, rather it was an action. He offered us the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus who gave His life at Calvary. It took Baptists almost 80 years to discover that love for missions is not enough. By 1920, the mission boards of the Southern Baptist Convention were in severe financial crisis. They had love for missions but no financial plan for putting it into action. Churches longed for a more effective missions strategy and agreed to combine offerings to see it become a reality.

The Cooperative Program: Love in Action

A simple approach gained approval. Churches agreed to set aside a percentage of their Sunday offerings for mission support worldwide. Each congregation decided what amount to allocate for the Cooperative Program. We named it the Cooperative Program, but the better description could be Baptist love in action. Here’s how it works. State conventions receive the offerings and work together with the Southern Baptist Convention to provide ministries which call out, educate, and deploy missionaries around the world. The Cooperative Program is a sophisticated financial network which combines resources from all the churches and applies them in a strategic effort to impact the world for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.

In Mississippi, state mission causes are supported by the 2,000+ churches in our state. Worldwide mission causes are supported by gifts from almost 45,000 churches across the Southern Baptist Convention. The largest portion of the money given nationwide goes to International and North American missions.

Love Ought to be Personal

One of the complaints about the Cooperative Program is that it is too impersonal. God’s love involved His “only begotten Son.” We encourage everyone to make a “personal profession of faith” in Christ. How can we become more personally involved in mission support through the Cooperative Program?

First, make a personal decision about what you will give to your church. The Bible instructs us to tithe (Malachi 3:10). Gifts which amount to ten percent or more of our annual income are very personal, and often require us to make personal adjustments in our household budgets. God deserves no less, however, since He gave His only Son.

Second, personally contact your church treasurer or budget committee chairman and encourage your congregation to increase its Cooperative Program giving. When you do, many people will ask to know more about how the Cooperative Program works.

Third, you may need to personally invite a real-live missionary to speak in your church. That’s when missions gets personal.

Finally, since Baptists have developed such a fine program of mission support, you may want to sign up as a career missionary, or you may simply want to surrender more of your time and energy to be “on mission” with God wherever you go.

I want to know more

If you need more information about the Cooperative Program or want to become more personally involved with mission support, please call us at the state convention at (800) 748-1651, or e-mail our staff.

Rick Blythe, director, Stewardship & Cooperative Program Promotion
Lisa Leavell, ministry assistant, Stewardship & Cooperative Program Promotion and Church-Minister Relations