The Cooperative Program (CP) is much more than money or a funding strategy. True, it has been Southern Baptist’s main strategy for nearly 100 years to gather unified funds from autonomous SBC congregations and use them to carry the message of Christ to our neighbors and the nations.
The funding journey begins with you and your church, then continues to our state (50%), allowing Baptists the opportunity to impact Alabama with the Gospel. The balance of CP funds (50%) continues with a strategic budget allotment voted on by messengers at the SBC annual meeting each June.
Here are the approved percentages for the distribution of the $192,270,000 budget:
- 50.41% to the International Mission Board
- 22.79% to the North American Mission Board
- 22.16% to Theological Education Ministries
- 2.99% to the SBC Executive Committee and SBC Operating Budget
- 1.65% to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Each Alabama Baptist whose church gives through CP can say “I Am the Cooperative Program,” supporting disaster relief, campus ministries, evangelism, church revitalization, church planting, Alabama WMU, The Alabama Baptist newspaper, University of Mobile, Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, and numerous other Great Commission Ministries across our state.
But behind this funding strategy, please note that WE are the Cooperative Program. Every dime given by Southern Baptists represents believers who belong to the tribe called “Southern Baptists.” The person in the pew is the principal giver through the CP.
My grandmother was 96 years old when she was called to heaven. For most of her senior adult life, Grandmother lived on a fixed income. Yet every Sunday, she filled out the church envelope and gave sacrificially to her local congregation and missions. Grandmother’s church gave 10 percent of her tithe through the CP. Grandmother also faithfully gave to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and the State Missions Offering. It was not just her duty. It was her pleasure. Though Grandmother’s giving was a “widow’s mite,” she never saw it as a burden but as her part in the bigger plan to bring the Gospel to the world.
There are also recipients of the Cooperative Program. Whether you know it or not, your church has most likely received CP funds through some evangelistic project or other efforts you have made to touch your community with the Gospel.
For me, I owe a huge debt to Southern Baptists who gave Cooperative Program funds so I could get an education at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. As a retired North American Mission Board missionary, so much of the income that came to the Hughes family for 20 years was from the Cooperative Program.
As a director of missions, many of our Montgomery Baptist revitalization projects and church planters received CP dollars. For me, it is personal – I Am the Cooperative Program!
Therefore, remember, when considering CP dollars and their percentage and funding strategy, each CP dollar has a story. It is a story of the faithfulness of God’s people. It is a story of grace and missions. I am glad to join you in being a part of a group of people who say, “We are the Cooperative Program.”
Neal Hughes is director of missions for the Montgomery Baptist Association and a trustee of the SBC Executive Committee.