Being a professor and church planter, I believe I have a unique perspective concerning the promotion of the Cooperative Program. As a professor, I see more and more seminary students who are not familiar with many of our Southern Baptist mission-funding programs. As a church planter, I see the challenge of educating new believers in showing them the genius of cooperative funding of missions through CP.
Following are some simple suggestions for how church planters can promote the Cooperative Program in a joyful way in their churches as we work to fulfill the Great Commission together.
1) Start early in promoting the Cooperative Program. From the start of a new church plant, it is important to help new believers and members understand what the CP is and how it works. At my current church plant, we start in our new members class by telling them about the CP and how our church gives. We show members how even though we might be a small church plant now, our money combined with other small church plants (and churches) can have a large Kingdom impact.
2) Show the results of CP giving. Many people in today's generation don't care about the process of CP money collection and disbursement. I have found that by emphasizing the end results of the CP, people are more receptive to learning. We have had great results by explaining to people how their money goes to help international missions, local missions, disaster relief, etc. By seeing their money in action and knowing the end results, I believe people are more likely to give and support the CP.
3) Explain the Kingdom impact at a local, national and international level. The trend nowadays is for church plants to keep funding at the local level because they are able to see a direct impact in their community. Yet, churchgoers also have a heart for helping when they see both national and international catastrophes occur. We can show our members the incredible advantage of the CP. Even with a small amount of dollars, a church can have a local and global impact, from their own communities to the farthest countries of the world.
4) Share the joy of giving a "tithe" of the church. In our church plant, I explain that giving to the CP is our church's "tithe." Just like individuals and families give a tithe and offering for the blessings God has given, so our church gives a "tithe" for the blessings God has given us. We then share stories of how God has used our tithe and offering to make a Kingdom impact. Stories connect to the postmodern generation because it connects people to the impact of their giving. The more stories you share, the more joy you may see in your congregation's giving.
In the current church setting where so many organizations and networks are vying for the attention of our church offerings, I pray these simple suggestions will help influence Southern Baptist church plants to support perhaps the greatest missions-funding strategy the world has ever known -- the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Brooks is assistant professor of theology and Islamic studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and founding co-pastor of the Mosaic Church in New Orleans. This column first appeared at SBCToday.com.
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