COOPERATIVE PROGRAM: Why does it matter now?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jamie Dew is president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. October is the Cooperative Program Emphasis month in the Southern Baptist Convention. To learn more about the Cooperative Program, go to sbc.net/cp.

NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- Over the past 100 years, Southern Baptists have had a major advantage when it comes to Gospel impact. With our collective efforts and support, we have been able to train and mobilize hundreds of thousands of Kingdom servants for the church and for the Great Commission.

By contrast, non-Southern Baptist Convention denominations have not been able to do this. With our collective efforts in the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists have trained men and women for Gospel ministry that now serve the churches of the SBC and proclaim the Gospel around the world. This is only possible because of the Cooperative Program and the faithful giving of Southern Baptists to our collective mission.

For example, with the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists place and support thousands of missionaries around the world where the name of Christ is not known. With the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists train the next generation of pastors, worship leaders and student pastors for local church ministry and Gospel proclamation in the cities and communities of our own nation. With the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists prepare and mobilize men and women to plant churches throughout the nation where Bible-believing churches do not exist. With the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists empower leaders to revitalize struggling churches to reengage their communities for Christ. And with the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists train the next generation of academic leaders to preserve the sacred doctrine that has been entrusted to us.

This is who we have been, and this is what we have done in our collective efforts in the Cooperative Program. In every generation, challenges emerge that threaten our collective work. But in every generation, the great need for Christ and the Gospel is constant. Where others before us have been faithful to give and support this work, it now falls to us to carry the torch and maintain the wisdom and strategy that has made so much possible for the Kingdom.

Now is the time to give more, not less. Now is the time to renew our cooperation as Southern Baptists. Now is the time to pull everyone back together and re-energize our family of churches for Gospel impact. We cannot let up, back down, grow weary or let divisive voices divide us in our work. Now, more than ever before, we must keep up the work that has been given to us by Christ. We, the people, the churches and the entities of the SBC, have one single mission -- get the Gospel to those who do not know Christ, and make disciples in His name. We cannot do this in isolation. And we cannot do this without cooperation. With this in mind, the Cooperative Program is a gift to us that must be protected, preserved and championed by every Southern Baptist. Therefore, may we be faithful to Christ, to His mission and to our collective calling. May we remain committed to the Cooperative Program.

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