Published March 11, 2010
Albert Einstein, a theoretical physicist, philosopher and author who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientist and intellectuals of all time, addressed the very essence of life and cooperation.
He once remarked, “How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.”
While I believe we can know God’s specific purpose for our lives, it is doubtless that we exist for other people.
“In One Sacred Effort,” Chad Owen Brand and David E. Hankins, stated, “If the New Testament churches cooperated with one other to provide relief in times of financial hardship and in the expression of love, so can we for those who stand in need of help in our day.
“If New Testament Churches cooperated together in carrying out ministry beyond their local congregations, as stewards of a larger work, so can we in missions at home and abroad.”
“In One Sacred Effort” suggests that Convention entities are funded through a cooperative effort to accomplish the “larger work” of Southern Baptists.
Brand and Hankins explain, “It ought also to be clear that what the SBC has done is simply take the Biblical model for cooperative service and ramp it up to work on a global scale, and then to streamline it to make it more financially viable. In doing so, it can make use of the resources by Baptist people and utilize them with the highest level of accountability and stewardship possible for ministry.”
J. Robert White, understands the Biblical principle of cooperation. In a recent interview with The Index he stated, “The churches I pastored as senior pastor, Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton and First Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky., were the largest churches in their associations. We didn’t depend on the local associations for assistance in our ministry. If we needed to train leaders for Vacation Bible School or Sunday School our church had sufficient, qualified personnel to train anyone that needed to be equipped.
A church member asked White, “Why is our church paying the largest amount into the association when we don’t need the services of the association.”
White responded, “We do need the association because it gives us the opportunity to assist smaller churches in our association that we might not otherwise be able to help.
Embracing a Greater Vision
The question is not ‘What are we getting out of the association?’ That is the wrong question. The issue really is the expanded opportunity for ministry. We have to bless other churches in Kingdom ministry. This is what cooperation is all about.
“A church that is inwardly focused is very unlikely to be a cooperative church. It is never about us. It is about God’s Kingdom.”
Cooperation is the embracing of a greater vision, the commitment to a greater good, of the choosing of trust over skepticism and generosity over selfishness.
On one occasion White was speaking to a group of pastors. After the meeting had ended one pastor, who wondered why his church should give to the Cooperative Program, remained after the others had left to ask a question. He asked White, “We’re not getting anything out of the Convention, so why should we give?”
White answered, “A Kingdom mindset envisions a huge ministry that begins outside our door and extends across the whole world. We must begin to grasp the perception that ‘my church’ is a vital part of God’s Kingdom work everywhere.
“The wonderful thing about the CP is that it gives us the opportunity to be involved everywhere. There is not another system like it in the evangelical world.”
The success of the Conservative Resurgence in Southern Baptist life should produce a Great Commission Resurgence and a Great Commission Resurgence mandates a Great Cooperative Program Resurgence.
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