Aug08

The conversation has occurred several times over my tenure as Partnership Missions Strategist for the Missouri Baptist Convention. In these moments, I find myself an astute listener, searching for the depth of meaning behind what is being said. Though the wording comes in various forms, the bottom-line is:

“We are trimming what we give through the C.P. in order to do our own missions programs”.

After serving nearly 30 years in Sr. Pastor (or Pastoral Staff roles in my early years), I want to encourage you in the faithfulness of our great God to provide for His every assignment, without subtraction from the macro Kingdom.

My missional journey began early in my “ministry”, growing and expanding with each new assignment. When the iron curtain fell, I watched God miraculously provide for the church I served as pastor in Arkansas, to purchase and set up printing presses to be placed in the four corners of Russia for the purpose of printing Gospel materials in the languages of the people. Our church deployed staffing to train Russian laypersons to operate the machines and continued to send follow-up trainers. The same church sent me as an adjunct professor with Golden Gate Seminary and International Church Planters to teach the New Testament to fresh Russian church planters. They regularly sent teams to Mexico and other parts of the globe, established a Disaster Relief mass feeding unit, etc… The list goes on and on; yet  we remained committed to the larger goal of mission giving through the Cooperate Program. FBC Forrest City saw God’s generous provision for every assignment He issued us. I still applaud Him today as I stop to recall.

Years later as I served as a pastor in S.W. MO God issued different, yet even more costly assignments. We mobilized to Mexico, Senegal, Thailand, sent student missionaries to multiple places around the globe, established a Disaster Relief Chainsaw Unit, planted two language congregations in our own building and a Hispanic congregation in Kansas. In 2005 we sent a mass volunteer team to service a Regional Conference in W.A. for IMB costing our congregation of just 500-600 people over $87,000.00… Yet, we refused to decrease our giving through the Cooperative Program. Our reasoning was simple, we believed in the Kingdom plan, that together we can accomplish more.  It was with great joy that we commissioned missionaries from our church to serve with IMB in Thailand and Senegal, knowing we were a small part of the greater organization. This day there are young men & women serving in churches across Missouri from that S.W. MO church who were educated in our Southern Baptist schools and seminaries. Our giving through C.P. was a small, but significant part of making that possible.

I share these snapshot stories with you to encourage you. God has specific, significant assignments in which you lead His sheep. Some of your assignments will be manageable from a financial perspective, but He will ordain some which are far beyond your ability as a local church to fund. Allow Him to provide miraculously. Allow your people to experience the faith-building stretch of prayer for provision. But I implore you, my fellow pastors – do not loose sight of the Kingdom picture. Together, we can accomplish more. Your church’s giving through the Cooperative Program is needed to continue the missionary force through IMB and NAMB. It is needed. You may feel your small decrease will not greatly effect the combined missionary efforts of the SBC, but compiled with other churches who are thinking the same thoughts, a great loss is felt.

Let’s lead with a Kingdom perspective, and shepherd with trust in our Father’s provision for His assignments.

 

 

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