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February 5, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--I could have titled this article "The Miracle of Cooperation" or even thought about it titling it "When God Adds Up." I want to share with you today some important aspects about cooperative ministry and, yes, the Cooperative Program.
We know, don't we, that most Christians keep most of their money for their own needs. We know that across the board most churchgoers give less than 2.5 percent to church or to any type of charity. Therefore, it is quite clear that the majority of what they have or may have stays with them for their own needs.
We know that most churches keep the vast majority of their resources for themselves or for their own ministries. The amount of money that churches have been sending to the Cooperative Program has steadily decreased for many years and now unfortunately is below 6 percent. Therefore, it is quite clear that most churches are keeping an increasing amount of money for their own ministries or needs.
As we know, most states keep a majority of the monies they receive for the needs and ministries within their own state. While we can point to some exceptions, most states keep an average of 62.66 percent for the needs within their own states.
This should not be a surprise. However, in recent days many people are acting as if they are surprised that these facts are in place.
I think we need to look at what happens when we choose to cooperate with one another. In Philippians 2:5, the Bible says your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. In verses 6 and following, we see a precious description of our Lord who gave Himself for others and considered Himself nothing. This precious passage speaks of a selflessness which all of us need to model.
When we join together in cooperative ministry, I believe we are exhibiting the selflessness of our Savior.
When state convention receipts which are sent forth to the national level join with the 42 other state convention amounts, millions upon millions of dollars become available to do the work of our mission boards, our seminaries, our Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, as well as others. They are joined by the WMU in promoting the work of missions around the world. Isn't it wonderful that when we cooperate together, we can do more than we could ever do on our own?
There's been much discussion in recent months about what states need to do and what entities need to do. The key is the local believer in the local church! As long as local believers continue to ignore God's call to tithe, then we will find ourselves fighting over "the crumbs from off the table."
Let us rejoice in what God can do when we work together. Let us pray for a spirit of revival among God's people that will enable God's work to go on unhindered in the days ahead.
Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.