Matthew 28:18-20 is simply and often referred to as The Great Commission. Some form of Christ’s commission is also found in the other places of the New Testament, but Matthew 28 often seems to be one of the most heralded. As followers of Christ we are called to “make disciples of all nations.” Christ has called us, has commanded us to proclaim the gospel unto the ends of the earth. The Great Commission is no small suggestion!
Since the New Testament era, church and mission leaders like the Apostle Paul have called upon churches to work together to plant, strengthen, and mobilize churches so the gospel of Christ is proclaimed.
On May 13, 1925, Southern Baptists, the group of Baptist Christians I identify and serve with, launched a unified and strategic missions support plan that became known as “The Cooperative Program.”
Through this “Cooperative Program”, or what I have come to call “Cooperative Partnership”, a church is able to support a greater missionary force and have greater ministry impact by working with other churches. For instance, local, regional, national, and international mission fields are reached when a church provides financial support through the Cooperative Program.
At first, it may seem that churches give “TO” the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program. However, the more I have gotten to know and see the impact churches have by working together in this Cooperative Partnership for the Gospel, I believe churches don't give “TO” but give “THROUGH” the Cooperative Program.
Thank you for your church praying and giving through the Cooperative Program. But, I believed and supported giving through it before coming to serve with SBC of Virginia. I want to share with you four simple reasons I came to believe in this Cooperative Program (Partnership) as a pastor, church planter, missionary-supporter, and seminary student:
Immediate Impact. It could take years for a church to develop a missions strategy. The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program allows for you to act now. As a church planter, our church was able to have immediate impact.
Mutual Support. Instead of missionaries having to constantly plead for resources or leave the field every year to raise funds, we work together to provide a system of mutual support so they can focus on their calling.
Global Strategy. Even though the world may seem to be getting “smaller.” It is still a big world, with many people groups. Even in Virginia (where I serve), we are seeing a multiplication of people groups right here, but we also want to reach across North America and around the world. The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program is a strategy to reach locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. As a pastor, I was thankful for a global strategy instead of having to develop a strategy piece-meal on our own.
Personal, even though it is comprehensive. Because the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program is so comprehensive, you may think it is impersonal. But it is not. The Cooperative Program makes seminary more affordable for individual students, helps plant and revitalize local churches, and supports missionaries all around the world. Each seminary student, every church helped, and missionary sent has a name, a story, and a calling. They are our children, our families, our communities, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.