By Tim Lubinus, BCI Executive Director/Treasurer
When I began as mission’s pastor in Iowa, one of my assignments was to prepare the annual mission’s budget (including the Cooperative Program allocation). I had just come back from service with the International Mission Board (IMB) and had a great appreciation for the Cooperative Program. However, there were several headwinds that made increasing our church’s Cooperative Program allocation difficult for me to recommend. As I considered the condition of several of our key national entities, I was not surprised that nationally Cooperative Program giving had been flat, while church donations to other ministries were on the rise. As I worked through this decision, I talked to key leaders in our state; they reminded me that it was our church’s duty to give to the Cooperative Program.
Around the time that I returned from overseas, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) was in turmoil in part caused by the frequent rotation of presidents. I visited our nearest seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the morale of the campus and the campus grounds were the same: un-kept and declining. The IMB had just gone through another huge and distracting restructuring making partnership with our church more difficult. Our state convention was only sending twenty percent of Cooperative Program contributions to the national agencies and keeping eighty percent for use within the state.
Today consider how much has changed! We have Kevin Ezell’s visionary leadership transforming NAMB. Under the leadership of Dr. Jason Allen at Midwestern, they had record enrollments last year topped by another twenty percent increase this year! The Ethics and Religions Life Commission is headed by the capable Russell Moore. The IMB just elected David Platt as president! Did you hear? David Platt! Finally, this fall the Baptist Convention of Iowa is discussing a proposal to increase our Cooperative Program giving from twenty to fifty percent by January 1, 2015.
Now I feel that I can go to Iowa churches in good conscience and ask them to give generously to the Cooperative Program, not out of duty, but out of enthusiastic support and excitement for our international, national, and state convention ministries. It is true that Cooperative Program receipts have not grown much in the last few years. However, the solution is not to tinker with the structure, it is to finally see what happens when all the entities are being led well and the state conventions each send on at least fifty percent of their receipts. Now that strong leadership is in place, in light of the massive needs around the world we do not need to change the Cooperative Program, we need to embrace it like never before.
Question? Comments? Email me directly at TLubinus@BCIowa.org.