As a pastor of a small church in Frankfort, KY, I take seriously the command of Christ to his church to take the gospel to all nations. The Great Commission is both a tremendous privilege and a weighty responsibility. For this reason, I’ve always encouraged the churches that I’ve served to increase their missions giving. I’ve always struggled, however, with the reality that most of the money which is given through the Cooperative Program stays in the state. I’ve found that when church members discover how small a percentage of the cooperative program dollars actually go to international missions, they are surprised and sometimes even outraged. And well they should be! If the Great Commission is as important as we say it is, then our financial support should reflect this.
Last year, amid some tough financial decisions, Farmdale Baptist Church increased our missions giving by establishing a set amount to be designated to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, in addition to the collected amount at Easter and Christmas. This enabled us to increase our North American (AAEO) and International (NAMB) missions giving without feeding what is being increasingly viewed as a bloated bureaucracy. This move enabled us to essentially double our contributions to these two important offerings which are the life blood of our two missions agencies.
I was very encouraged by and supportive of the Great Commission Task Force Report at this year’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I voted in favor of all the committee’s recommendations because I believed change was needed that would cause the Convention to be better stewards of the monies entrusted to them by the thousands of churches of the SBC. Though these steps may appear small to some, the recommendations adopted by the Convention demonstrate that the denomination is accountable to its member churches. These changes will be virtually meaningless, however, unless the state conventions of the SBC follow suit in the implementation of changes in the way their resources are allocated. As long as more than 50% of our Cooperative Program giving stays in the Bible Belt of the southern United States, we cannot call ourselves a Great Commission people! We must do more! Christ’s commission to his church demands that we do.
This year’s state convention annual meetings will be important ones as we see whether or not the Great Commission Resurgence’s effects are felt in our state conventions. Some state conventions were slow to respond to the Conservative Resurgence, I pray that they will not be similarly slow in embracing the Great Commission Resurgence. This push to get the gospel to the unreached people groups is the natural outworking of the Conservative Resurgence. The gospel which was defended at such great cost must be proclaimed, believed, and rejoiced in around the world. Christ must receive praise from all languages, people, and nations!
As a Kentucky Baptist pastor, I urge that the Kentucky Baptist Convention seriously evaluate where our resources are predominately being used. May we make it our goal to progressively, yet purposefully, move toward at least a 50/50 split between what stays in the Commonwealth and what is sent on to the budget of the Southern Baptist Convention. I further urge other Kentucky Baptist congregations to increase their mission’s giving, both to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings, and through the Cooperative Program. In our budget for the coming year at Farmdale Baptist Church, we are not only increasing our designated giving to the AAEO (from $1,000 to $1,500) and LMCO (from $2,500 to $3,000), but we’re also increasing our Cooperative Program giving by over 17% (from $8,500 to $10,000). I know this is small potatoes, but if churches across the KBC respond correspondingly great things can be accomplished for the cause of Christ. Increasing our CP giving is a good faith effort on our part intended to demonstrate both our commitment to this tried and true method of funding the work of Southern Baptists and our support for the adjustments that I believe will be made at this year’s annual meeting. I hope that those who oppose the Great Commission Resurgence out of fear of what might become of the Cooperative Program would realize that if you give Kentucky Baptists a compelling vision for the nations and a budget that reflects that vision, we will give to make that vision a reality for the good of the nations and the glory of Christ!