I believe there is evidence in the Scripture of the principles that make up our Cooperative Program. The Christians in Jerusalem were in dire straits. They were suffering persecution, and many had lost their homes, occupations and family ties.
As Paul journeyed throughout Asia Minor, Macedonia and Galatia, he found the churches encouraged to give in a cooperative and cohesive fashion to their brothers who were suffering in Jerusalem.
Paul says to the Corinthians, “For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it wasyour enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.” II Corinthians 9:2 (NLT).
In the early church, it was said in Acts 4:32 (NLT), “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.”
In both passages, we see clearly into the heart of the earliest Christians. Their commitment can be described as sacrificial, cooperative and sharing with one another so that the work of Christ was never lacking.
What was said of the early church, I believe, is the foundational characteristics of the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention — every church doing its part in Kingdom-minded giving and Kingdom-minded ministry.
Let there be no mistake, the CP is focused on Kingdom-minded ministry. As a pastor, it is a great joy to lead my church to give 10 percent through the Cooperative Program because I have personally witnessed the value of this investment.
Our people at Valley Creek cannot fund a team to go into the remote parts of the world but, as we give each month, we join with thousands of other congregations to make that happen. We cannot pay for ministerial training, but we can join other churches through cooperation and send thousands of young men and women to be theologically trained.
I have committed myself to always be mindful of the joy of cooperation with other Southern Baptist churches. That is why it is a great joy to send our 10 percent each month knowing the tremendous investment we are making and knowing the fruit that will grow from our gift.
If our churches underemphasize CP giving, it will undermine the very foundation upon which our denomination was founded. We are better together than we are apart.
I pray that other pastors will join me and increase their CP emphasis and giving within their local congregations. May our enthusiasm stir up others to give sacrificially in this great endeavor.
Kevin Blackwell served as pastor of Valley Creek Baptist Church, Hueytown until 2014. He now serves in Church Relations at Samford University primarily as the director of the Ministry Training Institute.