This week’s column is by KBC President Dan Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah.
There is a major difference between the words “and” and “or.” For example, if you see an advertisement for eggs and ham, you know you will receive both; however, if the advertisement said eggs or ham, then you realize you need to make a choice. The simple change of the conjunction makes a huge difference in how we respond to the statement. Rarely do we find people making a mistake between the meanings of these two conjunctions.
Yet, surprisingly many Christians seem confused by the conjunction in the Great Commission. Jesus said “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV) Notice He used the conjunction “and” not “or.” Notice the difference? If He had used the word “or” then we would have choice of where to take the Gospel but using the word “and” we know we must take it to the entire world.
But how can the local church undertake this daunting task? The great news for Southern Baptists is we have the mechanism to achieve this command through cooperating with one another. Obviously I am speaking of the Cooperative Program. Since 1925 Southern Baptist churches of all sizes have cooperated with one another by pooling their money to send out missionaries throughout the world. This simple plan enables all churches to have a major part in the Great Commission.
I have been blessed to travel to Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia for mission projects and, each time I go, I talk with our SBC missionaries. Speaking with them is a constant reminder to me of the importance of giving through the CP and the need to send even more missionaries. Seeing their obstacles and opportunities I am also compelled to pray for more churches to take seriously the Great Commission and their particular role in fulfilling it.
Currently Southern Baptists have many missionaries ready to go to the fields, but the funds are not available. That is an indictment to all of us. How can we say we believe in the Great Commission and not give more in sending missionaries? How can we say we believe in the Great Commission and not pray for God to call our own children and grandchildren to the mission field?
As I travel the state as I am excited to witness the passion Kentucky Baptists have to fulfill the Great Commission. We get it. This command is not to choose between local, state, national or international missions but to partner together to present the Gospel to all. Thank you, Kentucky Baptists, for your commitment and dedication to our Lord’s command.