It’s spring break for some states this week, and two of our nine grandkids got to come to PaPa J’s and Ema’s house for the week.
We love it. With no parents around, we have the incredible opportunity to pour our family legacy values into our grandkids our way, the fun way. Not only do we get to do the value stuff, but we also do some really fun stuff like eating ice cream at any time of the day, cracking open a real coconut, reading children’s story books while they sit in your lap, putting jigsaw puzzles together, playing board games, eating loads of candy, running in the wood’s, and driving Ema’s golf cart.
In the evening, we gather upstairs with Papa J and Ema and read a Bible story together. Then we pray. Then off to bed they go.
Imparting knowledge and truth is one of the valuable things parents and grandparents do for their children and grandchildren. It is our responsibility to see that the important things of life, the transferable concepts, are passed from one generation to the next.
In church life, we call this discipleship. This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 28:19 when He said, “Go and make disciples . . .” More accurately, He was commanding, not suggesting, that “as we are going, make disciples.”
The whole idea is quite simple but it requires that every believer keep his “eye on the ball.” We are here to make disciples. No matter the chronological age of the person God has placed in our lives, we need to coach people into becoming reproducible disciples. That’s every believer’s responsibility.
Since this column is scheduled to arrive prior to April 14, which is Cooperative Program Sunday, it would be appropriate to ask, “Who is responsible to educate the next generation about the value of cooperative ministries?”
Jesus told us in the Acts 1:8 Gospel Mandate to be His witnesses simultaneously in our local area, surrounding areas, and to the ends of the earth. At salvation, He didn’t transform us into omnipresent personalities. So we are to be part of the body of Christ that cooperates with other followers of Christ to bear witness of Him, to make disciples of all peoples and all generations.
Historically, Southern Baptists were given a gift to accomplish the Gospel Mandate. It is called the Cooperative Program. It is a method by which churches are witnesses to the people near us and around the world. At the same time, through proportional giving of the church through the Cooperative Program, we are witnesses cooperatively through the state convention ministries and the ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Since 1925, God miraculously created through us one of the most effective and efficient networks of ministries in all of Christian history. Cooperatively, we reach multi-generations, multi-languages, and multi-ethnic groups with the Gospel message in every state and most international jurisdictions. Every believer and every local church is part of something amazing.
But it appears somebody dropped the ball. Who is teaching people about the value of cooperative ministries?
The reality is that education about important values is a joint effort. Somehow in the context of Southern Baptist life, we failed to work together to train people about cooperative ministry in a fashion worthy of our God. To a great extent, the result is that Southern Baptists do not understand the “sacred gift” that God has entrusted to our churches.
Can it be repaired? Sure. But it is an uphill challenge due to the cultural phenomenon of individualism and self-gratification that permeates much of the church culture today. These worldly concepts feed the human flesh by valuing only what we can see, touch, taste, and hear. Consequently, too many only support those ministries they personally, experientially know.
However, one of the important goals of biblical discipleship is to teach people to walk by faith. Faith in what we cannot see completely is what pushes back our flesh. Cooperative giving is an exercise of faith by a local church to trust God at work through powerful multi-faceted MBC/SBC ministries to evangelize and make disciples.
What are some of the things we can do to train a new generation of disciples with the concepts of cooperation?
The first thing is to believe that our God is greater and more powerful than we could ever imagine and that He desires to do something amazing with this generation and through every generation. He is very interested in less flesh and more faith.
Second, place everything about your lives on the altar of God and pronounce that He is Lord of all. Start expressing lordship by tithing to your local church, and encourage your church to give to missions through the Cooperative Program.
Third, in your local church equip church leaders with the tools that help people grasp the vastness of God’s work through people who cooperate. Some great video tools are available at www.mobaptist.org/cp.
Fourth, with tears in our eyes over the lostness in this world, pray that as our collective resources go forth through our local churches to the Cooperative Program that our state, nation and world are impacted with the truth of the Gospel for generations.
Fifth, join the celebration about God at work through His people who cooperate with others to fulfill the Acts 1:8 Gospel Mandate.