CP stands for Cooperative Program. Like almost everything, in life or in Baptist life, we reduce whatever we are talking about to some short form of either hieroglyphics or an acronym. Many times, you’ll hear somebody in the Baptist world commenting on CP. The Cooperative Program will in just a few years be celebrating its big 100th birthday. Born in 1925 at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Memphis, it has become the engine that pulls and pushes and drives the largest mission endeavor in the history of Christianity. From the front doors of Southern Baptist churches to the ends of the earth, all across our states, all across our nation, all across the unreached people groups of America, Southern Baptists have been seeking to bring the light to the darkness, and the Cooperative Program has enabled us to do that. The Cooperative Program has seen some better days than now, but it has also seen some more difficult days than now.
CP is not just about money. It’s about the proper stewardship of what God has entrusted to us, given consistently, faithfully over the years. Just think about this: Here in Mississippi because of CP we are able to join together with our other 2,000 churches in the state to say to the world we care and we want you to know our Jesus. While Mississippi is typically known as the poorest state in the nation, strangely and wonderfully Mississippi is also known as the most generous and gracious state in the nation.
It can be seen in CP through the years as our pastors, laypeople, church staff people, and state convention staff people have continued to focus on what can be done through cooperating. It is an incredible story of God’s people doing together what none of us could do by ourselves. Just so you’ll know, across the entire Southern Baptist Convention from the outset of the Cooperative Program, there have been five of the state Baptist conventions that have now given through CP over a billion dollars. In that handful of states, Mississippi has given to missions through the Cooperative Program over $1.1 billion dollars. Those dollars were given through wars and depressions and crises in the nation and sometimes in our churches, but thanks be to God our folks have continued to give.
Beyond just the letters CP meaning Cooperative Program, I think CP means far more than that. Let me explain and give you some additional thoughts.
First, CP could stand for Christ’s Program. I mean by that the Lord Himself, the Lord of the church, always seemed to be acting and interacting to bring His disciples together in a concerted effort to do a great work. No better place is that confirmed than when Jesus fed the 5,000. We quickly think about the little boy with the five loaves of bread and two fish, and he certainly was important but while that miracle is presented in all four of the Gospels, all four of the Gospels want you to understand that Jesus used the combined efforts of His disciples to carry out that task. Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fish, gave twelve baskets to His disciples, and sent them out to feed over 5,000 people not counting the women and children. While it was Jesus at work, it was His disciples saying, “Yes, Lord, we will enter in to doing what you want us to do.” The combined efforts of Mississippi Baptists literally help us visualize what God can do through a group of people committed to Him and His task. CP becomes Christ’s Program among us to let people know wherever the need is, we want to be a part of filling that need and sharing the message of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys and all of his efforts to start churches, strengthen churches, was involved also in this kind of endeavor of connecting one church with another, one place with a great need and another with a great heart to help. It is the Christ way. It still is. You can be a part of helping the Lord as well as His people across our state who are giving and going and making a difference in this world. It is Christ’s Program.
Secondly, let me suggest to you that CP could also stand for Comprehensive Possibilities. It is not just one thing. It is a multiplicity of things, all sharing the Good News. It has impact because whether it’s on a campus or in childcare, whether it’s at a church or a mission team, the work of telling the world about Jesus is a 24 hour day, all across the globe, possibility. When Jesus gave us the Great Commission and told us to go into all the world and make disciples, He was telling us that the work of the Gospel is to go on everywhere, all the time, all at the same time. How can that possibly be done? The answer is CP. A comprehensive possibility exists out there. You and I have been blessed of God to be a part of that endeavor. The glow of the glory of the presentation of the Gospel extends day after day around the globe because of CP.
Thirdly, CP can mean Constant Persuasion. By that, I mean our work is not done. It was not done the year after the Cooperative Program was begun in 1925. It wasn’t fulfilled in 1955 or 2000.It looks like we could get this thing done and set aside and say we’ve done what we’re supposed to do. Here is the problem that practically we face: Every day around the world, on average, there are 155,520 deaths. Think about that: 155,000 people take their last breath and move into eternity each day. What if we do not share the Gospel? What if the Good News never comes to their ears or their hearts? We have to provide a constant persuasion and that is Cooperative Program.
More important than the thousands of deaths each day could be the thousands of births each day. Let this picture unfold before you: Every day on average there are over 373,000 new souls that come to live on planet earth. Many of them may not live to be 50 or 60 or 70 years of age. They may die in an accident in childhood or teen years or maybe even on a battlefield, but every year 373,000 new souls, each one of them facing an eternity and each one of them deserving to hear that God loved them so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in their place. CP — Constant Persuasion, is a means by which we not only see the Gospel preached in churches around the world but the message of Jesus coming to the hearts of men and women, boys and girls on every continent, day after day, year after year.
Today, give thanks that God has given to us CP with all of its ramifications. Today, encourage your church, your family of faith, to keep CP strong. As you give, give thoughtfully, prayerfully, generously, to say to our living Lord and a world that needs to know Him that we care and we’re going to keep up the work that Jesus has given us to do.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.