EDITOR'S NOTE: October is Cooperative Program Emphasis Month in the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Executive Committee president Frank Page has challenged churches to raise their Cooperative Program support by 1 percentage point during the next year.
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (BP) -- If Southern Baptist churches would increase their Cooperative Program giving by 1 percentage point next year, an additional $100 million would be available for accomplishing the Great Commission, Frank Page said during the Executive Committee report at the SBC annual meeting.
Randall Jackson, pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn., was among the messengers who heard Page's challenge in Phoenix, and he could only nod in agreement.
"When I heard his challenge, I realized we have been doing this," Jackson said. "We believed that increasing our Cooperative Program giving was one of the best ways for us to give to world missions."
Covenant Baptist Church has been increasing its Cooperative Program percentage each year for the past several years.
When Jackson became pastor of Covenant (then known as Concord-Grandview Baptist Church) in 2007, the congregation was giving about $2,000 or 2 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program.
Since then the church has increased its CP giving by 1 percentage point each year. For the current budget year, the church is giving 5 percent of its income through the Cooperative Program.
The dollar amount has increased to about $23,000 over that time frame, Jackson said.
A strong personal supporter of the Cooperative Program, Jackson helped his congregation understand that CP giving was one way to help take the message of Christ worldwide.
He said there was no resistance when the church voted to increase its giving to 3 percent for the 2009 budget year. The giving has increased steadily, and Jackson is optimistic that members will move to 6 percent in CP giving for the 2012 budget year.
"There has not been one question or complaint about us doing this thus far," Jackson said.
The pastor is convinced that the church's giving mentality has been a part of God's blessings upon the church in recent years.
During the time of increased giving, Jackson affirmed that "God has blessed us with more Kingdom-focused disciples and greater giving."
As part of the process, Covenant's leadership redefined its mission and purpose. The church began praying for laborers to help the church with its vision to reach the community.
Before he accepted the pastorate, the church had undergone some struggles and was averaging about 100 in attendance.
The church has steadily grown and today draws close to 300 people in worship each week. In April, the church began a third worship service on Sunday mornings.
"We began to see a harvest of new souls," Jackson said.
Many of the new members during that time have had little or no Southern Baptist background, so the church has been intentionally educating its new members about the Cooperative Program and its benefits.
Besides giving, the church also challenged its members to become personally involved in missions efforts. The church is exploring the possibility of working with an unreached people group in Bolivia, Jackson said.
"We want to help our people go to the world, whether it is across the street or across the ocean," he said.
One of the ways the church wanted to establish itself in the community to a greater extent was through a name change.
It came after a long process, but the church eventually changed its name. The former name reflected the merger of two established Nashville Baptist Association churches (Grandview Baptist and Concord Baptist) which occurred during the 1990s.
"The name change was one of the most challenging things we have done," Jackson acknowledged, but "the time for the change came last fall."
He stressed that they wanted new and existing members of the church and the community in general "to know that we still build on the work and heritage of those two churches."
Both churches had a desire for evangelizing and reaching people around the world, Jackson said.
"We feel our new name says something about God's love for us. Our call is now to use the name to communicate God's unconditional covenant love for us to the unreached in our community," Jackson said.
Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (www.tnbaptist.org/BRNews.asp), newsjournal of churches affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
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