The Meaning of Cooperation

Robert Reeves, director of communications for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, has written a wonderful post entitled, “The Meaning of Cooperation.” I recommend it to you. Here’s an excerpt:

I think one of the discussion points at the forefront today does have the potential of bringing the Cooperative Program to an end if the view becomes pervasive in our churches. Essentially, this view, which has been espoused by some whose churches give relatively little to support missions through the Cooperative Program, is that a church should eliminate or decrease its CP giving if it disagrees with the allocation of the funds.

On the surface, this makes sense. We live in a very consumer-oriented society and we constantly make decisions based on our own personal tastes, preferences and passions. If a new restaurant doesn’t deliver the food to our taste, we don’t go back. If we prefer red over blue, we select red products. If our passion is cars or travel or clothes, we allocate our personal resources accordingly. As long as we have our spiritual priorities in order and are being good stewards of our resources, there’s nothing wrong with making these choices.

The problem comes, however, when we try to apply the same “me” oriented approach to a “we” oriented system like the Cooperative Program.

The genius of the Cooperative Program has always been that we, as Southern Baptists, have essentially agreed that we would work “cooperatively” to fund the missions and ministries that we have decided collectively are worthy of support. CP was never established to support only one thing. It was always intended to be a way of investing in a multitude of causes on the state, national and international levels. The number of different ministries we support through CP has long been a source of pride for most Southern Baptists.

I’m definitely concerned when individuals or churches take the approach that if CP funds are not allocated “my way,” I will not fully participate. It sends the message that they somehow know better than anyone else and flies in the face of the cooperative spirit. (This is especially concerning when these individuals or churches have never tried to participate in the process and make their voices heard. It’s kind of the denominational equivalent of the church member who gets upset with the pastor and stops giving without having ever shared his concerns in an appropriate way.)

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8 Responses to The Meaning of Cooperation

  1. “I’m definitely concerned when individuals or churches take the approach that if CP funds are not allocated “my way,” I will not fully participate. It sends the message that they somehow know better than anyone else and flies in the face of the cooperative spirit.”

    Hogwash. It sends the message that the local church is God’s ordained means of approving and sending missionaries, and they’re decisionmaking shouldn’t be held hostage to the external dictates of a board who has no authority to approve or disapprove a missionary.

    The tables could just as easily be turned and the question could be asked of the board: “By what authority do you set parameters of how church-given cooperative program money gets dispersed?” It’s absurd to make those who disagree with aspects of the cp look selfish and consumeristic. There could be another reason after all.

  2. Oops. Strike they’re. Insert their. 🙂

  3. joe white says:

    So, “cooperation” means forwarding your 10% to the CP like a good little zombie without questioning the dispersion of said funds. And… if you question or give otherwise, then you must be an Independant Baptist.

    I say… thanks but no thanks to this definition.

  4. joe white says:

    Mr. Reeves writes… “I’m definitely concerned when individuals or churches take the approach that if CP funds are not allocated “my way,” I will not fully participate.”

    Where is the same concern when KNCSB President, Ron Pracht, says that he is reducing the Cooperative Program forwarding percentage from 32% to 22% this year from his state convention? Does this not also send “the message that they somehow know better than anyone else and flies in the face of the cooperative spirit”? After all, the convention overwhelmingly adopted the GCRTF Report, who is he to demand “his way” over the “WE”?

  5. Greg Alford says:

    Darby & Joe… Very well spoken!

    What we are seeing with some men in leadership at the State Conventions, like Ron Pracht, is very sad. These men are acting like they own the Cooperative Program… and are entitled to take what so every percent they wish. This reveals the “Great Flaw” in the Cooperative Program! It grants the power to regulate who receives what percentage of CP giving to the State Conventions who can just thumb their noises at the will of the SBC (even when it is clearly expressed at an annual convention) as KNCSB and LBC are now doing.

    This sort of conduct is exactly why so many churches have adopted “Societal Giving” in the first place, and if left unchecked will ultimately decimate the Cooperative Program.

  6. Chip says:

    I think that there is good deal of truth in Mr. Reeves post. Defintely we need to examine and reexamine the CP to make it as efficient as possible, however the CP (as it is now) is the reason SBC missions are the envy of the denominational world. I fully believe that a dollar thru the CP goes further than a dollar outside the CP. I just wonder why so many people are all of a sudden so antagonistic toward the CP, and how they would feel if members of their church started designating their offerings away from ministries in the church they didn’t care for.

  7. Thanks for the feedback on my post. I hope everyone went out and read the entire piece and not just the excerpt. I totally respect the right of every church to make its own decisions about how the Lord wants them to use their mission dollars. The point I was seeking to make is simply that in the Cooperative Program we have a very representative system that gives every church a voice in the decision-making process about how CP funds are allocated.

    The allocation decisions are not made by nameless people in some far off place. They are made by messengers attending their state’s annual meeting and by the pastors and laypeople from the churches in that state who are elected by those messengers. The “cooperative” in the Cooperative Program is about us joining together to leverage the resources in the best way possible. We will not all agree with every decision but the system can only work if we choose to work together through it.

  8. lesliepuryear says:

    Robert,

    Thanks for your comment. I couldn’t agree with you more!

    Les

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