The Kansas church cooperates with Southern Baptists worldwide as well as those involved in specific ministries through connections that have been made over the years, starting with the connection to the Cooperative Program. CP is the channel by which Southern Baptist churches support missions and ministries through their state conventions and around the world.
"Our church supports the Cooperative Program because we believe in the way the funds are used," said Cody Busby, pastor since 2006 of the church where about 275 people worship on Sunday mornings. "We love to support our missionaries and Southern Baptist entities. ...
"For us, CP giving means that we are partners in the work with them," Busby continued. "We love the idea of uniting with other churches in the spread of the Gospel. We feel we have an identity in that work, and it's a core piece of our identity."
First Baptist members felt the economic pinch just like everyone across America, but the church kept its CP giving at 10 percent of undesignated receipts "because we believe even in difficult times we want our money to matter for Kingdom work," Busby said.
In addition to its giving through the Cooperative Program, First Baptist also has specific interests in "Libraries of Love," a ministry that builds and stocks libraries overseas, and "Mercy for Mamas," a Southern Baptist-led outreach that provides birthing kits with a spiritual component to pregnant women overseas. Both are a result of church connections that stem from cooperation.
First Baptist also makes ministry connections locally in Mulvane, about 20 miles south of downtown Wichita. "In the middle of a difficult economy we have encouraged our people to pray for new and creative ways to do ministry," Busby said. "We have been able to add multiple local ministry projects."
A food pantry stocked with items purchased by church members is available to anyone in need -- in the church or in the community.
"It's not large-scale; it's a couple of closets," Busby said. "But our people are always looking for good prices on food so the pantry stays well stocked."
The church also provided home food packs this summer to a number of local families. "During the school year our district provides food packs every Friday for students in need. That program ceases when school is out," Busby said. "We went to the schools and said we would fill the gap.
"Our people provided all the inventory, and every Sunday evening this summer we loaded up the food packs and delivered them to those families who opted into the program. That for us was a major ministry point for nearly five months."
But not the only ministry point. First Baptist offered its Vacation Bible School again this year strategically timed to fit in the community's calendar, so as many youngsters as possible -- about 260 this year -- could be reached.
"Our VBS has a good reputation in the town," Busby said. "We used LifeWay's curriculum again. The kids loved it! ... We do our VBS in the daytime because it connects well with our community and it works well for our volunteers."
At this season of the year, First Baptist members are gathering coats, jackets and other winter clothing for those in need and the community's first responders will be honored by the church with a meal and recognition service. Both initiatives came from the church's small groups, which are encouraged to find a local outreach project.
Beyond Mulvane, First Baptist is active in ministry in Wichita, participating every year in the "Christmas Store" ministry of the inner-city South City Southern Baptist Church.
"We needed a way to funnel our resources to a place of great need," Busby said. "Mulvane is not a wealthy town, and we're not a wealthy church, but we do want to be a part of what God can do through us."
First Baptist members purchase gifts for children, take them to South City and help as needed at the store. After gifts are sorted by age and gender, parents submit the names of their youngsters and receive age-appropriate gifts.
Glenn Davis, director of missions for the Heart of Kansas Southern Baptist Association, said the Mulvane church "is rarely recognized but often involved in giving and serving beyond themselves to minister in Jesus' name."
"Many examples can be cited of pastor Cody Busby leading his church to give and serve beyond themselves" Davis added. "Their generosity includes new church plants, other churches and ministries in their community and throughout the world."
Most of its missions and ministry ventures are not budgeted items, Busby said. "This is our church, blessing others -- sometimes sacrificially -- as we have been blessed," he said. "It's really an identity marker for our people. ... Our people love to see the Gospel go to other places."
This involves going as much as giving. Church members have been on mission to several locations in Kansas in recent years, plus Minot, N.D., Bartlesville, Okla., Denver, Colo., Houston, Texas, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Internationally, members have gone on mission to Uganda, Albania, Peru, Portugal, Niger, Japan, Haiti, China, Ecuador and Greece in recent years.
"I'm amazed at the amount of international missions activity our people are able to be part of," Busby said. "Everyone would point to the Lord for all the credit and glory. People are willing to give because we talk about it in positive ways, and we practice it in positive ways.
"Just like we expect our families to care for their needs and be Kingdom-minded in their tithing, our church needs to be Kingdom-minded with our resources," Busby said. "Mulvane is Kingdom, Wichita is Kingdom, and the whole world is Kingdom, and we want to be part of reaching that whole world."
Karen L. Willoughby is managing editor of the Louisiana Baptist Message.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net