Imagine 30,000 fellow Southern Baptists coming to your church every year asking for money to help them fulfill God’s calling in their lives. That would be more people than we have in all our Montana Southern Baptist churches combined! It would be about 600 different people each Sunday, which is more people than attend the average Southern Baptist church on a Sunday. No single church could bear the financial challenge of supporting so many people who all have great missions stories and compelling callings.
Yet, that’s how many men and women each Southern Baptist church helps support if it contributes to the Cooperative Program. That’s more than 3,400 international missionaries, 6,000 North American missionaries and chaplains, 20,000 seminary students, hundreds of seminary professors and staff, and thousands more men and women in our state conventions, associations, and colleges.
The Cooperative Program has been an astonishing success. Because of it, men and women who are called by God to vocational ministry can devote themselves to fulfilling their calling rather than raising money. For international missionaries, this can mean as much as 50% more time on the mission field because they don’t have to keep coming back to the United States to raise money. For North American missionaries, it means they can spend more time doing evangelism and planting churches rather than raising all of their support. For seminary students, it means they can follow God to less populated areas of the country after graduation because the Cooperative Program helped to pay for their educations so they don’t have as much student loan debt. In fact, if your church has a Southern Baptist seminary or college-trained pastor, you can probably thank the Cooperative Program for helping make it possible for him to live on what you can afford to pay because he isn’t carrying a bunch of student debt.
The list of benefits the Cooperative Program provides to Southern Baptists and our work to advance the Kingdom of our Lord would fill pages. But for all those pages of benefits, at the top of the list is the way the Cooperative Program helps us reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Southern Baptists baptized more than 180,000 people in North America last year and another 102,000 people around the rest of the world. Cooperative Program money was involved in most of those baptisms in some way.
This isn’t just a national or international story. It is also a Montana story. Montana Southern Baptist churches who give to the Cooperative Program make it possible for us to continue reaching the lost and making disciples right here in our beautiful state. Seventy-five percent of all the money Montana Southern Baptists give to the Cooperative Program remains right here in Montana to help us start and strengthen Montana Southern Baptist churches and share the gospel with our neighbors. It provides us with the money to pay for hotel rooms for all our pastors at MPact every year as well as for all the equipping events we provide. It enables us to have a state staff and funds to coordinate our work, start new churches, and minister to our existing churches.
We even benefit from the twenty-five percent we send out of state to help fund Southern Baptists’ national and international work. Much of that money comes back to us in the way of church planters who are paid by the North American Mission Board and evangelism funds that our churches use to reach the lost right here in Montana.
The Cooperative Program is a brilliant solution to the challenges of the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations and the His Great Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. Through it, every church, no matter its size, can be part of a vast missionary effort to bring the love of God in Jesus next door and around the world. Last year, Southern Baptists gave more than $450 million to the Cooperative Program, and most of that money came from churches that run less than 100 people in worship on an average Sunday morning. No other evangelical group comes anywhere near giving that much money every year to the work of the Kingdom of our Lord.
As you consider what your church gives to the Cooperative Program, I hope you will join me in celebrating the great blessing we all share because we have chosen to work together for something greater than ourselves. If you aren’t supporting the Cooperative Program, I hope you will add that to your church budget for 2024. If you already support the Cooperative Program but haven’t changed the amount for many years, I hope you’ll consider increasing what you give in 2024.
The Lord has given His people a great task of eternal importance. Because we cooperate together in His Kingdom, every year hundreds of thousands of people come to know the God we love. Thank you for your partnership in the gospel through the Cooperative Program. What a joy it is to serve with you in our great state of Montana. May the Lord see fit to continue to pour out His blessings on us because we have chosen to work and give together for His glory.