SBC Cow Tippin': In What Sense Does Giving to the Cooperative Program Matter?
Note: This is a little long, but I felt it was necessary . . .
“I hear the ‘moo’ of a Sacred Cow,” said Ted Traylor speaking of the suggestion that the church of a nominated candidate for
Earlier this year, an Ad Hoc Cooperative Program Committee was formed which made the recommendation that elected state and national officers be a part of churches that give at least 10% to the CP. This suggestion was an encouragement, not an obligation, which gained the approval of the
First, there is a historical precedent in the
Second, there is a present crisis of cooperation in the
This is where the “self-determining” of an autonomous church comes in. Churches today are building their Great Commission emphasis around themselves. I have heard the mantra over and over again, such as “We go on x number of mission trips each year and have planted x number of churches on every continent in the world.” Some will say, “There is not a place where the sun sets where we are not doing missions.” Notice the reference point is that particular local church. If this self-congratulatory rationalization for the lack of cooperation is not enough, we cannot forget that all this must be financed in some form or fashion. Thus, the money which would normally go to the CP goes to the efforts of the local church. Implicit in this strategy is that the individual church can do it better and more efficiently than the IMB. This is what I call being missionally myopic.
The whole purpose of the CP was to pool resources together to do what one could not do on its own. Through giving to the CP and the agency of the IMB, Southern Baptists have the largest missionary force in the world. Yet the supply line to these missionaries is being undermined by the reallocation of resources to accomplish short-term missions to the neglect of long-term missionaries. We have mission conferences, mission trips, mission training, etc., but are often forgetting about our missionaries! We cooperate not out of obligation, but as a privilege and an overwhelming desire to serve one another in love. Hear what the Baptist Faith and Message has to say about this:
Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the
. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. . . Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom. Kingdomof God
Cooperation is voluntary true, but it is also expected, especially from our leaders. Inevitably, the nominations for the
Our greatest challenge is electing a man who has demonstrated a proven commitment to the Southern Baptist way of supporting missions. Many of the megachurch pastors have turned aside from cooperative missions in favor of direct or societal missions. They do missions, but they choose to do what their church can accomplish, rather than realizing the power of what we can achieve together. They have abandoned a tried and true axiom among us. We can do more together than we can do alone.
Because of the relevancy of this year’s nomination, let’s take
In a recent interview with Baptist Press, Floyd said, “churches can and should do better” but “there was never mandated cooperation” or “scriptural basis for tithing to a denomination.” This is true, and the current recommendation is not a mandate nor an attempt to scripturally prove tithing to a denomination. Why does cooperation have to be shaded as an obligation, mandate, or requirement? I thought we cooperated and supported one another because we wanted to and because we believed in working together. Is this not the spirit and example we should hope to have in the leader of the
Floyd said, “I want to do more, I’ve done more. We’ve been doing more and we will continue to do more.” What he said it true—they have done more, and looking at the previous years of giving, one can see where the CP was more of a priority than it is today. Floyd also said that CP is a “tool” and “vehicle” which “can be relevant only to the point of the convention re-imaging and reinventing itself to meet the needs of
What I have heard in recent days is warnings against making some arbitrary rule about giving 10 percent to the CP and how it should not be the “sacred cow” of the
The future direction of missions in the
Fundamentally, the Southern Baptist Convention exists for cooperation with one another for the purpose of the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world. For 81 years, Southern Baptists have done this together as each church member has valued the importance of giving to the Cooperative Program. So in what sense does giving to the CP matter? It is not about a “golden number” or a church’s statistics on giving or their missional resume; it is about people and having a passion to reach them. We have over 6,000 of our own out there who have left their houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and lands for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. Let’s not become spiritual cow-tippers. Though the CP made not be SBC's Sacred Cow, there is no reason to make it the Sacrificial Lamb. Let’s remember that it is not about us—it’s about them.