When I think of Kentucky Baptists, one word that rises to the top is generosity. Kentucky Baptists are generous people who have a vision to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere.
I do not take for granted the compassionate prayers, personal commitment and financial sacrifice that Kentucky Baptists make to support missions and ministry efforts in our state, nation and world. As a former IMB missionary from Kentucky and member of the Missions Mobilization team, I am thankful for the faithful generosity of Kentucky Baptists in their passionate support of missions through the Cooperative Program.
As stated on the SBC.net website, the Cooperative Program (CP) is "the financial fuel for reaching every person for Jesus Christ in every town, city, state and nation." Since its inception in 1925, CP has been the primary way Southern Baptists do the work of ministry together both locally and globally. Standing on the firm ground of the Great Commission, CP is a powerful tool that has galvanized the missionary zeal of our denomination for the past 95 years.
The Cooperative Program is far more than money or a funding system for missions and ministry. It has been an effective means of bringing the gospel to those who have never heard of Jesus. In a time when many people are skeptical of institutional structures, the theological conviction and purpose driving CP must be elevated above and beyond the tool itself. The tool is wonderful, but the vision of reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ is greater. Missiology is not methodology; it is applied theology.
Through Cooperative Program giving, the Lord allows us not only to partner in fulfilling the Great Commission, but also to fulfill a vision that is greater than ourselves. Each church plays a vital role in discovering the lost, making disciples and strengthening and planting churches both locally and globally.
Collectively, we can accelerate not only authentic gospel impact, but also sustainable gospel witness.
Here is what the Lord has taught me through the faithful CP giving of Kentucky Baptists:
It is beyond me: I obey God by giving my tithe to our local church. My tithe, combined with the tithes of fellow members, enables our church to reach our community and to live on mission.
It is beyond us: Our church partners with thousands of others across Kentucky to support missions and ministry statewide through the Cooperative Program. Together, we equipped people to welcome and share Christ with refugee families from more than 10 countries, started a Bible institute to equip international pastors across Kentucky and partnered with international churches to make disciples among unreached people.
It is beyond Kentucky: As KBC churches partner with 46,000-plus Southern Baptist churches, our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries across North America to reach people for Christ and plant urgently needed churches. Together, we helped Send City missionaries in Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and New York share Christ and plant churches.
It is beyond the USA: Our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries around the world to share Christ and plant churches among unreached and unengaged people groups. Last year, CP giving helped over 3,600 workers plant 12,368 churches and see 89,325 new believers! South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia are only a few of the locations KBC churches are partnering with IMB workers around the world!
The strength of CP is that it allows all Southern Baptists churches to prioritize, elevate and participate in the Great Commission by partnering together to make Jesus known here, there and everywhere. This is why I am thankful for Kentucky Baptists' generosity, and I am proud to serve KBC churches as they seek to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. We are stronger together!
John Barnett (email@example.com) is a Kentucky Baptist Convention mission strategist.