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One Sacred Effort

According to our banner, SBC Witness exists for the purpose of "encouraging Southern Baptist cooperation and faithfulness." Each of our contributors, though we serve in diverse ministry positions, live in different states, and disagree on any number of secondary matters, are committed to the SBC and are hopeful for the future of the convention. And we all like SEC football.

One way that we can encourage Southern Baptist cooperation and faithfulness is by educating Southern Baptists about our Cooperative Program (CP), the unified giving plan at the heart of the convention. As Jon Akin and Jedidiah Coppenger so helpfully demonstrated this summer, the CP is not without its faults. Jon, Jedidiah, and many, many others (including me) are convinced that the CP has room for improvement, and that it is critical for Southern Baptists to be willing to revisit and tweak the CP to make it a more effective means of funding our cooperative endeavors.

Despite its weaknesses, the CP is still the best thing going. Unfortunately, many–perhaps most–Southern Baptists have no clue what the CP is. Not a few SBC pastors are virtually unfamiliar with the Cooperative Program. But there is a remedy.

In 2005, B&H published an important work titled One Sacred Effort: The Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists. The book is co-authored by Southern Seminary theology professor Chad Owen Brand and Louisiana Baptist Convention executive director (and former SBC Executive Committee vice president) David E. Hankins. It is a very good book.

All of our seminaries make educating students about the CP a component of our respective curricula. For example, at Southeastern all students are required to take what amounts to an independent study course on the CP. Students read One Sacred Effort (which B&H graciously provides free of charge) and take a number of quizzes on the content of the book, administered online. Of course the CP is also emphasized in Baptist History and Identity classes at both the college and seminary levels, though the book is not required in those classes because of the aforementioned independent study course. No student goes through our seminary–or our sister seminaries–without being introduced to the CP and the Southern Baptist "way" to do cooperative missions.

But One Sacred Effort was not written for the sole purpose of being used as a textbook in college and seminary classes. Brand and Hankins wrote the book to educate all Southern Baptists, especially pastors and other church staff. To that end, let me highly encourage those of you engaged in local church work to purchase a copy of One Sacred Effort. It is the best short treatment of general SBC history, Baptist identity, and the in's and out's of how the SBC works and how we fund the many things we do.