by Brian Hobbs

In these trying fiscal days, much of the talk focuses on obtaining vehicles with a good fuel economy. Something similar could be said in the world of charities, non-profits and missions organizations, which are more and more struggling to make the most of every dollar.

In the Cooperative Program (CP), the chief funding vehicle for our programs and missions, I believe Southern Baptists can feel a surge of deep satisfaction about the “fuel-efficient vehicle” we have. Just what do I mean?

For starters, CP does not expend a large percentage of the dollars it receives for fundraising. In fact, compared to other charitable organizations, it is shockingly low.

We’ve all been there. Enjoying an evening with our family, when suddenly the phone rings. It’s a telemarketer, eager to tell you about “his” charitable cause. Worn down by the tactics and racked by guilt, they press you to make a pledge. How much of that would actually go to the cause versus pay the fundraisers? Findings show that even in a good scenario, a quarter of every dollar would go to pay fundraisers.

Compare that with CP, which calculations in Oklahoma show we expend less than three cents of every dollar for promotions.

CP also is a great investment for churches of all sizes to be connected to local, state and international missions. Most churches do not have the resources to fund, let’s say, an overseas missionary for one year. With travel costs, housing, food, insurance and more, funding a missionary can be a $100,000 annual endeavor.

United in our giving through the CP, however, allows any church to help put missionaries on the field, working to expand the Kingdom of God.

Moreover, consider also these ways the CP makes an impact for time and eternity. In Oklahoma alone, CP fuels dozens of ministries and programs: eight weeks of Falls Creek youth camp each year, CrossTimbers Mission Camp for children, new church plants, men’s and women’s ministries, nearly 30 chaplaincy ministries, ethnic evangelism. These programs are seeing thousands of decisions each year, with lives touched in a great way.

While CP has become for some a fun punching bag lately, when you look closely, it is plain to see that this time-honored program is an effective channel through which Baptists can further the Gospel. We, of course, do not credit any program for our spiritual victories but the Savior, Who alone deserves our worship and lives.

So the next time you hear an organization boast (even in a good way) about its ministry impact and wish we Baptists could do the same, fear not. In the Cooperative Program, we have a good thing going, thanks be to God.

Brian Hobbs is director  of communications for the BGCO.