10 Reasons to stop giving through the Cooperative Program…and why they’re wrong

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As I near a quarter of a century of ministry in and to churches cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention, I can reflect upon countless conversations about the cooperative missions offering known as the Cooperative Program. In my role as a pastor, those conversations took place in budget committee meetings, missions committee meetings, in church hallways and parking lots, and occasionally over lunch. In my role as a state convention executive director, or as I often refer to myself, “the chief CP fundraiser in Kentucky,” those conversations take place every day, often many times a day, wherever I go.

Over the years, I have heard lots of reasons church members thought we should cut CP giving and lots of reasons pastors choose not to lead their churches to give more than a token amount through CP. Here’s a “Top 10” list of reasons to stop giving through CP…and why I think they are wrong.

  1. Our church budget is too small to give through CP. Giving through CP can seem illogical for a small church or a church plant but, similar to the principle of tithing, can also be an act of discipline and faith where we choose to obey God, trust in God’s provision, and then witness just how generous God can be (Mal 3:10). Giving through CP is also a way for small churches and church plants to do Kingdom work they may not be able to do on their own.
  2. Our church budget is too big to give through CP. In a large church, budgeting a significant percentage for CP also means a significant amount of dollars. Ten percent of a $50,000 budget looks differently than ten percent of a $5,000,000 budget. But if a church can survive on $45,000, surely a church can survive on $4,500,000! The old adage, “Not equal gifts but equal sacrifice” causes us to think in terms of generosity rather than the number of zeroes on a check written to take the gospel to the nations.
  3. We have too much work to do in our community to give through CP. Every community I’ve ever lived in, visited, or just driven through has more work to do than one church can get done. Jesus did not command the church to do everything that needs done in its local community but he did tell the church to be a witness in Jerusalem AND Judea AND Samaria AND to the ends of the earth. CP makes that possible.
  4. We want to plant churches. I thank God for the renewed focus on church planting that is sweeping across the SBC and we need more, not less, churches committed to planting churches and intimately involved in the lives of church planters and newly birthed church plants. But, in addition to throwing significant support behind one, two, or, in the case of a megachurch, even five or ten new church plants, giving through CP allows a church in Kentucky to support 50 new plants in the state, approximately 1,000 new plants in North America, and thousands more around the world. CP lets every church be part of a church planting movement.
  5. We want to support “our own” missionaries. Long ago, Southern Baptists became convinced that cooperation was a better way to reach the world. Cooperation allows missionaries to stay on the field rather than fly back home to raise support. Cooperation provides for greater accountability, better training and support, and a comprehensive worldwide missions strategy. And, all 3,600 of the men and women who faithfully and sacrificially take the gospel to the nations through the International Mission Board are “our own” missionaries. Just ask them.
  6. We don’t know how our CP offering is used. Maybe you don’t, but you can. The information is fully disclosed, down to the penny. Budgets are publicized. Audits are available. Board oversight is diligent. And for every dollar, I stand ready to give an account. I’d also be happy to stand before your congregation, meet with your finance committee, or provide a host of resources that explain the CP and how it is being used to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.
  7. We don’t like some of the things CP supports. As a father, pastor, and denominational servant leader, I have always found a few things I didn’t especially like in my home, church, and convention. But since there is plenty I do like, I stay put. That’s always the best opportunity to help fix anything we consider broken.
  8. We don’t agree with the leader of a CP funded entity. Disagreements abound “where two or more are gathered” and so can fellowship…unless we walk away. If we stay, sometimes we can reconcile, other times we must agree to disagree, but unless we witness a departure from essential doctrines or ongoing and unrepentant sin, choosing to “take my ball and go home,” thus walking away from the incredible kingdom work made possible by CP, is a bad decision.
  9. Our church is big enough to do what our state convention does. No, it isn’t. Large churches do a lot and for that I give thanks. But no church in Kentucky, by itself, can minister to 1,200+ abused and neglected kids, assist thousands of students with their education, plant 50 new churches, provide equipping and encouragement to hundreds of pastors and thousands of church leaders, do disaster relief ministry every day in several places around the world, and, every day, feed the hungry, provide housing for the homeless, love the refugee, and so many other things. But, through CP every church in Kentucky can do all of that and more.
  10. We don’t get anything from CP. Yes, you do. Every church giving through CP gets to be obedient to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), obey James 1:27, minister to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), model generosity toward other churches (2Cor 8:1-5), reproduce itself through church planting, and have access to a host of consultants, resources, tools, and ministries designed to help the church reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.

I could probably think of a few other reasons I’ve heard for not giving through CP but I can’t stop thinking about all the things God is doing through CP.

Posted in Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Baptist Polity, Christian Education, Church Planting, Churches, Collegiate Ministries, Cooperative Program, Culture, Denominational Life, Disaster Relief, Education, Great Commission, International Mission Board, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Leader Training, Missions, Partnership, Pastoral Resources, Seminary, Southern Baptist Convention, Stewardship | Comments closed

Work to do!

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More than any other season of the year, summer is the time for Kentucky Baptists to be on mission! Volunteer mission trips in and out of state and overseas are on the calendar for most of our churches.

Here at home, probably the biggest mission event in our communities is Vacation Bible School, a time when churches all across the state will be ministering to and sharing the gospel with families. Kentucky Changers is also a big part of a missional summer for many of our churches committed to sharing Christ in their Judea. In addition to hosting Kentucky Changers, the WMU staff members have a calendar packed with summer mission activities and trainings. I recently had the privilege of spending time with Crossings Ministries’ staff as they prepare for their summer mission of sharing the gospel with some 15,000 young people at our Kentucky Baptist camps.

Kentucky Baptists will benefit from thousands of reinforcements as we seek to reach our state for Christ this summer. Volunteer mission teams from churches sprinkled across the Southern Baptist Convention choose Kentucky as a missions destination each year, most doing their work in the summer. While the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and counties along the Mississippi River Valley receive the lion’s share volunteers, several other communities in our state are host sites as well.

Why such a flurry of activity for Southern Baptists and Kentucky Baptists while most are simply enjoying the “lazy days of summer?” The Bible’s final chapter helps answer that question. No less than four times do we find the imminent return of Jesus referenced in Revelation 22. In verse 7, Jesus declares, “I am coming soon.” In verse 10, the angel warns, “The time is near.” Then, in verses 12 and 20, Jesus twice more announces, “I am coming soon!”

At the moment of his return, the invitation to “Come…take the free gift of the water of life” extended in verse 17 will forever be closed. Those who have accepted Christ’s invitation will have their sins forgiven and enjoy eternity in his heavenly kingdom. But those who have not accepted the invitation will receive the wages of their sin in an eternal hell. Yet, until that moment, the invitation still stands. And that invitation is to be heralded by those who, themselves, have accepted it. Thus, the highest privilege and heaviest obligation in history rests upon us: we are to share the hope of the gospel while there is still time for the lost to be saved.

Summer is close at hand. So is the Savior’s coming. Kentucky Baptists, we have work to do! Whether you are headed out on a mission trip, planning a major outreach project in your community, gearing up for VBS, or for all of that and more, pray for those efforts, for your fellow church members, and fellow Kentucky Baptists and Southern Baptists, asking God to let this summer be a great season of harvest for His glory and the good of those who can be saved as we share the gospel.

Posted in Evangelism, Kentucky Woman's Missionary Union | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Strong first year for Kentucky Today

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The changing landscape of journalism in the United States and, more specifically, Kentucky has created a great need for new ways to disseminate news. With traditional newspapers shrinking in both size and circulation and television news growing more sensational by the day, Kentuckians have had to navigate a maze of often biased, lopsided, and decidedly liberal coverage to stay informed about all the goings-on in the world around them. To provide balance and a source of real news, Kentucky Today was launched in November 2015 by the Kentucky Baptist Convention communications department under the leadership of Roger Alford.

Kentucky Today has one goal in mind, to be a world-class online publication that operates on a rather unique, non-traditional model in that all the news is made available at no charge to readers simply by visiting the website www.KentuckyToday.com. No paid subscriptions necessary. The cost is covered by donors who value unbiased news coverage and conservative commentary.

As a complement to the Baptist news we depend on from the Western Recorder, Kentucky Today focuses on coverage of government and politics, because those are areas where fair coverage has been in short supply. It is a credible news source that provides readers with up-to-the-minute coverage of our state, nation, and world, while at the same time providing the strong, statewide conservative editorial voice that has been sorely missing in our state. Kentucky Today also provides articles to newspapers around the state. Essentially, Kentucky Today has taken on the additional role of operating as a news service.

Kentucky Today possesses close to a century of journalism experience when adding together the years of service of its staffers. Kentucky Today’s base is the 1 million Kentuckians who identify themselves as Southern Baptists. By sheer numbers, Kentucky Baptists make up one of the largest communities in our state. This community is not defined by geographical boundaries, but it is a community nonetheless. Kentucky Today was established to serve that community by providing the latest and most significant news of the day.

We have found, however, that interest in Kentucky Today goes far beyond Southern Baptists. In fact, nearly every elected official in Frankfort receives Kentucky Today’s Morning Briefing, which contains the big news stories of the day. Within its pages, readers find a full slate of world, national, and state news courtesy of an affiliation with The Associated Press, the world’s largest newsgathering operation and the gold standard in journalism. Readers also find the latest business, sports, and even entertainment news, because, to engage the world, our readers need to know what’s going on in the world.

Make no mistake, Kentucky Baptists have a keen interest in what happens in Frankfort. They’re a huge voting bloc with the power to sway elections. They demand and deserve world-class news coverage. They want to know the whys and hows of politics. They want to see their views represented on op-ed pages. They want political leaders to know what they think about the issues of the day. They want to be heard. Kentucky Today gives them a voice in Frankfort and beyond.

If you haven’t signed up for the daily briefing email news update from Kentucky Today, go to the KentuckyToday.com home page and sign up today.

Posted in Culture, Denominational Life, Government, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Kentucky Legislature, Kentucky Today | Comments closed

Open Hearts/Open Homes – Foster Care & Adoption Initiative

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On March 10, 2017, Governor Bevin and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services held “A Summit to Save Our Children” in Frankfort. The summit was Governor’s official expression of his ongoing commitment to streamline the Foster Care/Adoption process in the Commonwealth. This initiative should be particularly exciting for Kentucky Baptists. At that summit Governor Bevin issued a call to mobilize a network of non-profits, faith-based organizations, and loving families to “take a stand to ensure all children in the Commonwealth are safe, cared for and loved.”

Our Executive Director, Dr. Paul Chitwood, gave the invocation for this important event, and he and his wife Michelle’s experience in providing Foster Care was a featured video at the Summit.

As a part of this initiative, the Health and Family Services Cabinet has commissioned an in-depth study of the Adoption/Foster Care process by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Recommendations from the Foundation to make the entire system more efficient by the removal of barriers to foster care and adoption will be forthcoming. This study will result in a legislative package to be considered at the 2018 legislative session.

As Kentucky Baptist’s representative at the Capital, it is my intent to be as helpful as possible to the Health and Family Services Cabinet as the legislative package is developed for introduction at the 2018 session. The streamlining of the adoption process will also be studied by a working group made up of legislators in the Kentucky House of Representatives. I intend to speak out to members of the House and Senate to express our support for these efforts to make the Foster Care/Adoption process more flexible and efficient.


It was pointed out at the Summit, that there are children in Out of Home Care that don’t always have safe and appropriate places to sleep at night. One of the suggestions made by the Cabinet was that churches and other non-profits purchase portable cribs (Pack N. Plays) and provide them to the Cabinet to be issued to families as needed. That is certainly something that almost any size church could do immediately.

Providing a portable crib to families that need them is just one small way we can be involved, but there’s so much more that needs to be done. According to the data provided at the Summit, as of February 6, 2017, there were 7,917 children in Out Of Home Care. While it was pointed out that there is an ongoing need for additional Foster Care families in all categories, the Cabinet outlined specific areas of need, including:

  • Homes accepting sibling groups
  • Homes accepting children ages 19 and up
  • Homes with African American Parents
  • Homes with Hispanic Parents
  • Homes accepting medically complex children

Other areas of need associated with the provision of Foster Care include:

  • Recruitment of Foster families
  • Respite services
  • Training supports (sites, childcare, flexile locations and hours)
  • Visitation services
  • Transportation
  • Provision of goods
  • Supports to those aging out of care
  • Mentoring to biological families
  • Fatherhood engagement
  • Supports to kinship, foster and adoptive parents

James 1:27 tells us: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans … in their distress.” How can we not be involved in fulfilling this Biblical mandate?

Please make our involvement in the Governor’s Foster Care/Adoption initiative and the House of Representatives’ study group a matter of prayer. Pray that the goal to “ensure all children in the Commonwealth are safe, cared for and loved” would be achieved.

If you have any questions about the Open Hearts/Open Homes initiative or the House of Representatives study group, feel free to contact me at [email protected], or call me on my cell phone at (502) 330-5024. I would be honored to speak with you.

Posted in Adoption, Culture, Family, Foster care, Government, Kentucky Legislature, Prolife, Public Affairs | Comments closed

Lives at Stake

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It’s been nearly 12 years since an uninvited guest appeared at my office and asked for an opportunity to visit with me. Little did I know that visit would so dramatically impact my life.

After introducing himself and stating that he was there to talk with me about a pressing subject, the man asked if I would view a few minutes of video. He warned me of graphic and disturbing content as he opened his laptop, tapped the mouse pad, and gazed at the screen along with me.

He was right. The images were both intensely graphic and deeply disturbing. And they were immediately and permanently etched upon my memory. The video showed abortions being performed. I watched in horror as, one after another, tiny babies were dismembered and extracted, piece by piece, from the shelter of their mother’s womb. Early term. Late term. Horror.

As he closed the laptop and placed it in his satchel, I sat speechless. The sanctity of human life had been for me an annual sermon topic and a cause for which I was glad to offer tenuous support, never wanting to heap guilt upon those who had abortion in their past nor be associated with the extremists burning and bombing abortion clinics. But at that moment, I felt condemned by my unwillingness to mount a passionate defense of the lives of unborn children. And I knew that had to change.

On Jan. 7, 2017, I celebrated the victories won for the unborn in Kentucky. I thanked God for courageous leaders in the Kentucky House and Senate, the convictional leadership of Gov. Matt Bevin, and those who had worked, hoped, and prayed for far many more years than I. While the murderous scourge of abortion hasn’t completely disappeared in our state, the new restrictions set in place have surely preserved the lives of many little boys and girls who would have otherwise died. Some of those children have quite possibly already been born.

Yet, on March 23, 2017, in the Gene Snyder U.S. Courthouse in Louisville, the American Civil Liberties Union argued before U.S. District Judge David Hale that, contrary to Kentucky law, an expectant mother considering an abortion should not have the opportunity to see ultrasound images from inside her womb to understand fully the risks and consequences of her decision. While Kentucky’s new law provides protection for both mother and baby, the ACLU believes the U.S. Constitution provides no such protection. Ironically, the ACLU essentially argued that our state’s most vulnerable class can be discriminated against based upon their age, sex, race, or for no reason at all, subsequently declared unworthy to exist, and have their lives extinguished without as much as a passing glance from those who hold the child’s life in hand.

Because of Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s timid position on the ultrasound law and his outright refusal to defend Kentucky’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks, Gov. Bevin asked his general counsel, Steve Pitt, to ensure strong representation against the ACLU and a strong defense for the unborn. Andy Beshear didn’t attend the hearing and his staff sat in silence. But, thankfully, Steve Pitt spoke with boldness to represent the interests of the unborn, expectant mothers, and our state lawmakers.

While we await Judge Hale’s decision, pray with me that he will have eyes to see that life in the womb is no less sacred than any other stage of life and leave in place a law that Kentucky wants and unborn children deserve.

Posted in Abortion, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Government, Health, Kentucky Legislature, Personal Reflections, Prolife, Public Affairs, Social Justice | Comments closed