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.

11 Responses to “One Sacred Effort”

  1. My earlier comment regarding NAMB’s missionary count involving MSC volunteers was by no means intended to be negative.

    I serve as a MSC missionary and praise God for the CP, even if I am not paid directly. As Nathan mentions, and I alluded to already, we benefit tremendously in many other ways from CP funds.

    My intention was merely to share the fact that we are included in their count since many do not know. I am a student at Southern Seminary and graduated from a baptist college, and I wasn’t even aware of it until my appointment.


  2. I have been out of hoc for a couple of days, so I have not kept a close watch on this discussion.

    First, I don’t think Sam Rainer was claiming that all 10,000 of the NAMB missionaries are paid by the CP directly. Nevertheless, CP allows NAMB to have the ability to support/facilitate the ministries of the volunteer missionaries.

    Second, Timmy was largely echoing what we have been saying on this blog since this summer. See the Akin and Coppenger posts referenced above.

    Third, as for proportional giving, I personally agree that many megachurches could give more. Nevertheless, it is their choice to set their own CP percentages, and the fact does remain they give more than smaller churches. And often make better use of their money than many state conventions.

    Finally, there is no reason at all the budget could not be challenged at a convention. But the problem is not the national budget. The problem is the state budgets. And that is exactly why the very megachurches that you are complaining about vote by witholding much of their money from the CP.


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