Dual funding drives missions – Doing more together than we ever could do alone
Southern Baptists have become the largest evangelical mission-sending organization in history with more than 10,000 missionaries supported by more than 43,000 congregations.
The Cooperative Program is the financial foundation and backbone of Southern Baptist missions and ministries. Last year alone, Southern Baptists gave more than $500 million through the Cooperative Program. When funds from special offerings, such as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and state missions offerings are included, the figure rises to more than $737 million. The work of Southern Baptists is a dually-funded endeavor.
Bob Shelton, stewardship and Cooperative Program specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, believes the Cooperative Program and special offerings work together and are equally important when it comes to reaching the world for Christ. “In essence, the Cooperative Program is the church’s channel of giving while special offerings give individuals an opportunity to give sacrificially above and beyond the tithe,” Shelton said. “A dual system is required in order to fund all that God is accomplishing.”
From 1925 until the mid-1980s, Southern Baptist churches gave 10.5 percent on average through the Cooperative Program. Since 1984, this average has continually declined to an all time low of 6.4 percent last year. “We’ve lost a third of our Cooperative Program giving. If churches were giving at the same rate they gave in the mid-1980s, we would be putting another quarter of a billion dollars a year into reaching the world for Christ,” Shelton stated.
Oklahoma is one state that is doing much better than the national average. It is Shelton’s job to make sure it stays that way. For the past 10 years Oklahoma Southern Baptist churches gave on average 8 percent through the Cooperative Program. Last year that average grew to 9.7 percent.
Why? Shelton believes Oklahoma Baptists understand they have global impact through the Cooperative Program and the special offerings. “Our churches realize that being an Acts 1:8 church is not just about local ministry, it’s about reaching the world for Christ,” Shelton said.
Studies indicate the average Christian gives 2.4 percent of their income to the local church. As a result churches often struggle financially because God’s people are not tithing. “In Oklahoma, we’ve launched the 10 Again Challenge. We are challenging every member to tithe and every church to give 10 percent through the Cooperative Program,” Shelton explained. “When our giving returns to 10 percent, churches and associations will grow, giving to the Cooperative Program will triple, and we will have no problem satisfying the request for 3,000 more international missionaries. When the water rises, it rises for everyone. It is time for 10 again.”
To hear the complete interview with Bob Shelton visit www.messengerradio.com.
IT’S TIME FOR 10 AGAIN
The 10 Again Challenge is not for women who want to return to that dress size or for a college football team who wants to win that many games in a season once more. It is far more critical.
It is a double-fold challenge for every Oklahoma Baptist to give at least 10 percent (a tithe) to their local church and for every Oklahoma Baptist church to give at least 10 percent through the Cooperative Program.
If every member tithed and every church gave 10 percent of its offerings to the Cooperative Program, CP giving would increase from $500 million to $1.5 billion, a three-fold increase. In the process, every church and every association would have more resources for their mission fields.
The average given through the local church is only 2.4 percent. An average of 5 percent would double a church’s income, double associational giving and double CP giving. This would mean an additional $500 million in CP gifts.
The average given through the Cooperative Program in the SBC is 6.66 percent, down from 10.5 percent in the 1980s. Ten percent would mean an additional $250 million in CP gifts.
The 10 Again Challenge is a step to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.