At this time of year, I am frequently asked to speak in associational fall meetings. These are usually the general meeting of the association and I am asked to represent WMU as well as the other agencies and institutions of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. I always enjoy attending these meetings and seeing the work of our associations across Kentucky. My next assignment is with Lincoln Baptist Association where I have been asked to share about “Missions and the Cooperative Program Challenge.”
We have a new Cooperative Program (CP) brochure called Powering Missions and Ministries through the Cooperative Program. I like this brochure because the front cover has a “power button,” much like the one on my computer, and is a reminder of what CP does for missions. In my remarks at Lincoln Association, I will be referencing the brochure. Copies are available free of charge from the KBC Communications office.
I am a champion of the Cooperative Program because it is the foundation of our financial support for missions. I like to think about CP and the missions offerings like tithes and offerings as referenced in the Bible. As churches, we teach what the Bible says about tithing and challenge every church member or church family to tithe. As churches, we also need to tithe. We need to practice corporate tithing not only to model what we teach for individuals, but to demonstrate that we believe if we tithe as churches, God will help us stretch the 90 percent to cover local ministries. Mission offerings are thus what we do beyond the tithe, just as scripture says “tithes and offerings.” The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, and the Eliza Broadus Offering for Kentucky Missions could not be as effective without the foundational support of the Cooperative Program. But when these offerings for international, national and state missions are combined with CP, the results are outstanding.
Sometimes I’ve heard people promote the LMCO and say that it’s really important for us to give to this offering because nothing is taken out for administration, it all goes to the field. And that is true, but it is true because of the Cooperative Program. Any ministry, including the ministry of your church, has some administrative costs. It costs money to turn on the lights, buy paper, run the copier, etc. Those things may not be as glamorous as ministry expenses for evangelistic outreach, buying Bibles, or feeding hungry children, but we all know that those ministries will not happen without certain administrative costs.
The beauty of CP is that many people have carefully prioritized ministry needs. They’ve made sure that important things get done, even if they are not always the stories that will make you cry. On the Powering Missions and Ministries through the Cooperative Program flyer you will find information about how CP works and funds missions around the world. I want to point out three ways you can help. First, add $3 to every check you write to your church. If you give weekly, that’s an extra $156 a year. If 100,000 Kentucky Baptists would do this, it would generate a total of $15,600,000. Now of that, if the churches kept 90%, that would be an additional $14,040,000 for local churches in Kentucky – just in one year. But it would also mean that there would be an additional $1,560,000 for missions through the Cooperative Program.
The unfortunate thing is that the current average church gift to CP is 6.75% of undesignated giving. It is vital to get every church to give 10% or more through CP. So, the second challenge on the flyer is to get your church to start raising CP giving by .25% a year. Over time, it would make a great difference in the support of missions by your church. Last year I made a number of visits to pastors in Shelby Association to thank them for their CP giving. Shelby Association is much like many other associations in that it is an association of primarily small churches. On each visit, I took a copy of the CP profile for each church. Since CP is a formula with designated percentages to each ministry that is supported, we can apply the formula to church giving for a particular year and tell you exactly where your church CP funds went and how much. Attached to the CP profiles that I delivered, was also a cumulative report on the CP giving of each church, since 1925 when CP started, or from when the church was started. Many were surprised at how much their churches had given over time.
The third challenge is to engage the children of your church in an effort we are calling “Children Changing the World.” Through this effort, the children of your church collect change starting in the spring and go through your church VBS, designating the VBS offering for CP. Again, this is an opportunity to not only get your children involved, but to teach them the importance of the CP. Teaching materials and promotional ideas are available.
So, as I go to associational meetings to share about missions and Cooperative Program, I challenge you to join me as a passionate advocate for the Cooperative Program and for our missions offerings. Your voice can make a difference.