Earlier this week I wrote about our church's increased giving to the Cooperative Program through undesignated gifts. This has spurred some interesting conversations.
One question asked was "How does an individual's giving through CP help connect them to the field?"
It's a great question and deserves more than a simple "It just does!" answer.
In fact, even an answer that sounds more like "Well, that's what we're supposed to do as Southern Baptists," isn't valid.
As a church who has intentionally and strategically shifted focus to living missionally, the traditional CP gift must also be explained and understood. As one pastor shared "It's a new conversation." This new conversation must clearly explain and define how CP giving and all that entails the Cooperative Program equates to living missionally.
So, how does CP giving connect people to the field? In a broad sense, through the funding of missionaries and other ministries, the field workers can actually stay on the field longer. In this sense, the giver (i.e. the local chuch member) is connected to the field through support. Of course, portions of CP monies go toward theological education and denominational budgets, but these must be viewed as essential as well. No one desires to see a top-heavy beaurocracy develop that keeps funds from the field. I imagine that the denomination-wide Great Commission Resurgence has brought this to everyone's attention. Our (Southern Baptists) desire to be good stewards of God's resources.
Though I espoused support of CP and even shared why we as a church are increasing our percentage giving, just giving to CP is not necessarily missional. It can be, and in our case is, a portion of our missional strategy.
I love basketball, and one of the most popular and effective basketball plays of all time is the "give and go." I won't go into the finer points of the give and go here, but I do believe this is a good strategy for the local church and for leading into missionality.
Give and Go!
To give financially and do nothing else is inefficient and ineffective. Sure, the finances can be used for Kingdom work, but a deeper connectivity of the individual to Kingdom work is forsaken.
Our strategy is to lead God's people to "give" generously and cheerfully as an expression of worship. While doing this, we are to be "going" to the field and serving Him there.
The Great Commission reminds us that as Christians, we are to go. As we go, we are to make disciples. This is not up for a vote. It's our mandate.
19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in£ the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We believe that all Christians are to be on mission and serving missionally in our community and on the field. For some, this means participating in a global mission trip. For others, it may be volunteering at one of our local schools as a mentor. It may be numerous other missional activities such as disaster relief, serving at the Clothes Closet, even raking a neighbors yard. For the few who are truly homebound, their act of service may be writing cards, making phone calls and as with all other believers, praying earnestly for the lives and eternal destinations of those in our community and world. All this work, which is an outgrowth of our faith, is done solely for the glory of God and with a Kingdom focus.
It's my belief that each Christian must not only give faithfully and generously, but go as well to the field.
To go without giving is incomplete.
To give without going is ineffective.