Baptists across Arkansas are being asked to pray May 20 during the annual Arkansas Baptist News Day of Prayer promotion.
While I feel it is vitally important to pray for the work of your state newspaper, I want the ABN Day of Prayer to carry with it much greater significance this year and in the years to come.
The ministry of the Arkansas Baptist News wouldn’t exist without the thousands of cooperating churches and members that make up the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Southern Baptists are historically very autonomous in nature – but ironically – passionately cooperative at the same time.
Without our desire to be cooperative, the Southern Baptist Convention never would have grown to become the greatest missionary-sending organization the world has ever known.
The beauty of the way Southern Baptists do their work I feel is best illustrated through the much-maligned Cooperative Program.
By giving through the Cooperative Program, any church of any size can be an integral part of fulfilling the Great Commission and winning the world to Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, in some quarters of the SBC it’s no longer popular to tout the Cooperative Program as the best way for Southern Baptist churches to support missions.
Some critics say the Cooperative Program is faceless and bureaucratic, and encourage churches to make what they say is a greater impact by routing monies around the state convention and national entities, opting to “support their own mission causes.”
It is the right of churches to do this – but there’s only one problem. A church that reduces or cuts its Cooperative Program giving to “do it’s own thing” regarding missions is not behaving like a cooperating Southern Baptist church.
So I must ask, “Why do they continue to call themselves Southern Baptist?” Perhaps I’m missing something here, but it seems like a logical – and obvious – question to ask.
So next time you write out your tithe check or place an offering in the plate, pause and thank God for the wonderful way He has led Southern Baptists to pool resources together for maximum kingdom impact.
Tim Yarbrough is editor of the Arkansas Baptist News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.