Serving on the Kentucky Great Commission Task Force for the past year has served to reinforce my support for the Cooperative Program. And I am grateful that the Task Force Report stirred up Kentucky Baptists to think about the importance of both the work of our state convention and SBC missions. Speakers for and against the Task Force Report during the KBC were passionate about the importance of the Cooperative Program. I was glad to see the passion.
I hope that everyone heard the president’s address by Dr. Don Mathis who stressed that the problem with CP is not how it is divided, but rather it is the size of the pie. Dr. Mathis then made the point that we are the ones who determine the size of the pie. Churches (which include each of us as members) make choices in regards to allocations for missions. It is up to us to challenge our churches to support KBC and SBC ministries through the Cooperative Program. (In receiving the Cooperative Program Award, Jesse Stricker reminded us that we give to KBC/SBC work through CP, not that we give to CP.)
In his addres, Dr. Mathis noted that when he was state convention president in 1985, Kentucky Baptist Churches received $120,572,280 in undesignated receipts and gave an average of 11.69% through the Cooperative Program. This past year, Kentucky Baptist Churches reported $332,507,729 in undesignated gifts but only gave and average of 6.83% through CP. While the dollar amount of the CP pie has grown larger, relative to undesignated receipts, it has gotten smaller.
The clarion call during the KBC is that if we believe that the Cooperative Program is important, we must go home to our churches and make it so. While we would like to see the average church gifts through CP rise from between 6-7% of undesignated receipts to 10% in one year, the “More For Christ” effort simply asks churches to raise what they are currently giving through CP by .25% (one-quarter of one percent) a year.
I’m not a mathematician, but a percent is one hundreth. One dollar is 100 pennies, each penny being one percent. So, to do the math, multiply what you now give through CP by .0025 to learn what a one-quarter of one percent increase will look like. We will all see that it is a doable number! In the case of $100, it is an increase of 25 cents the first year. The request is keep increasing by one-quarter of one percent until your church has increased CP gifts by 3%. For some, that will move the church closer to giving 10% through CP. Many others that already give 10% or better, have expressed willingness willing to keep increasing for the sake of world missions.
It is also vital that all KBC/SBC staff and elected leaders, as well as those who serve in institutions and agencies supported by the Cooperative Program, be in churches that are strong CP supporters. Some would say that I am making CP a “sacred cow.” I am not bashful about this. I am grateful for years of CP support going back to our early days as church planters in Pennsylvania. Those who are paid by CP have an obligation to be in churches that support CP. Those who run institutions supported by CP have an obligation to be in churches that support CP.
Above all, out of our KBC Annual Meeting, it is my prayer that we come away with a renewed appreciation for the Cooperative Program and how it works. Through a plan to support all of our work through percentage giving, both the seemingly mundane needs (like utilities) and the heart wrenching needs (like ministries to children) are all provided with resources so that our work together to share Christ can go forward.
As noted during the report of the Kentucky Great Commission Task Force, the lost person in China or Kazakstan or Thailand is not here to say “remember me” when our churches are setting budgets. Children in abusive homes are not at the table to say “remember me.” Lost people in communities where we need to plant new churches are not here to say, “remember me.” More for Christ is about remembering and giving more of ourselves and our finances for the sake of gospel.