We Regret to Report the Death.....
.. of the Cooperative Program, as we know it. And that evokes the following purely emotional response from me:
The key here is as we know it. That's pretty much as it was designed in 1925, and I don't know a lot of things that were designed & built back then, that we still use today. So maybe it's time for a major updating, as the GCRTF suggested.
Oh, I was one of the guys pooh-poohing the report, thinking it posed a threat to the CP. And, it does. But after I got to thinking about it, and not just reacting to it, I agree with the part about looking at all a church's bona fide missions expenses, and SBC entity investments, as part of their SBC stewardship.
I while back, I blogged about some of the things that a network of churches could do, that the SBC doesn't seem to be doing now. You can read that, here.
What really got me to thinking about this was the nomination of Kevin Ezell as President-Elect of NAMB. I saw the expectable shots at it, by those decrying the extremely low percentage of the budget, of the church he leads, that goes to the CP. But, I read the release they'd put out some time back, about their missions expenditures overall, and have seen reports about what they're doing to advance the Kingdom work, and I'm impressed by what they're doing. And that got me to thinking that maybe they DID know better how to advance the Kingdom, with the money God entrusted to them, than simply sending more of it to the CP.
A couple of points that might be of further interest: our church knows how to put on a Mission Trip. We've sent from 75 to 140 people to various places around the country, normally with three purposes in mind. One is to help a church with construction needs .. be it the church property itself, or the community (we've been to the New Orleans area several times). A second is to hold Backyard Bible Clubs in various locations around the community. We've been doing this for years, have good material, know how to structure them, and what makes for a good location.
Finally, we're good at putting on block parties. We have the Stage Trailer, the sound equipment, the cooking setup to feed hundreds and hundreds of people.
To top it all off, we're used to sleeping on the floors of the churches that want us to come and pitch in. We normally even carry along a shower trailer.
NOW: it occurs to me that there might be some folks out there who'd like to go along on a trip like that, but their church has never done that. Or there might be a pastor who'd like to get his church started in such a ministry, but isn't sure how. I'm sure our missions folks would be happy to have them come to Pelham and tag along with us to see, participate, and learn.
I'm not real sure about that, because nobody's ever wanted to .. at least not in the last 15 years (2 folks did then, and were welcomed to our team).
We also know how to go places like Nassau and Jamaica, and work there, too. We did a lot over about 14 years, helping Red Hills Baptist build their Community Outreach Centre, enough that they asked Peg & I and another couple ... the Blackwelders ... to come down and help in the dedication ceremony for the new building. Plus, the prior trip we made, Peg and Debbie, with our pastor's wife and 2 local ladies had a 5-day Vacation Bible School at their sister church .. Cypress Hall .. for over 100 kids. In ONE room. Our pastor STILL talks about that.
I can't help but think that there are some churches out there that would like to do the same sort of thing, but are not sure how to get started. We could be a big help with that.
Here's one little typical SBC Church that's doing several things that other churches might well profit from, and the SBC would be a wonderful clearing house for such information.
Peg and I were also personally involved in planting Riverchase Baptist Church, here in the Birmingham area. It was remarkably easy.
All these things have gone on, and still go on, largely apart from SBC involvement. Should we have done none of them, and simply sent whatever we spent to the CP, washing our hands of needs of which we were aware?
The SBC and its entities and commissions and programs, could be involved in all those things, but they seem to prefer sticking to a program invented in 1925, when our church could never have done any of the things I mention above.
And I hasten to add that I'm positive there are many other SBC churches out there, just as active ... or moreso ... as FBC Pelham, outside the activities of IMB, NAMB, or the CP. The recounting of what all Kevin Ezell's church is doing, the activities I'm aware of that Emmanuel Baptist Church of Enid is involved in, and the overseas activities of Alan Cross and Gateway Baptist in Montgomery are just the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure.
Perhaps SBC entities don't want to learn. Maybe they ... ***shudder*** ... like their hierarchy and their buildings and their expense accounts and their cars and their travel just fine, thank you.
I hope not, but I fear so. And the GCRTF and the nomination of Kevin Ezell may be just what the CP needs, to add some relevance before it's too late. Before it ceases to be even a good alternative to the local church just doing it, itself.