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.)