This coming October, I have the privilege to teach a course entitled, Growing a Great Commission Church at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC . I am excited about this opportunity to return to the seminary classroom. You see for six years I taught evangelism at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, LA and enjoyed my interaction with seminary students immeasurably. For the most part, seminary students are intelligent, creative, “outside the box” thinkers who challenge the status quo in the church. They ask “why” and “why not”. They long to make a difference in the world and they long to impact eternity. They have not been scarred by the heartache of ministry and their minds see no limits to what God can do through their lives for His glory. Yep, I can’t wait to spend a week with folks like that!
One topic we will examine is the development of a holistic, global missions strategy for the local church. I must confess my view on this topic has certainly changed over the last 28 years of ministry. When I graduated from seminary in 1984, I assumed my job as Pastor was to lead my church to sacrificially give to the Cooperative Program, a joint missions funding tool available to all Southern Baptist churches. The money our church gave, along with the monies given by all SBC churches, was then used to fund missionaries to reach the world for Christ. So, I led the churches I served to give over 10% of their undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program and I am glad I did! The monies, given by thousands of Southern Baptist churches and pooled together for maximum effect, supported the ministries of: thousands of God-called missionaries serving across North America and around the world; 6 seminaries, training thousands of students to be the next generation of church leaders; countless ministries in the states within which I served – Louisiana and Florida – including Baptist hospitals providing medical care to indigent families regardless of religious belief and Baptist colleges teaching a Christian worldview to the next generation of community leaders. I felt good about our church’s sacrificial giving to the Cooperative Program because I knew we were a part of global disciple-making and only eternity would reveal the countless number of people who came to faith in Christ because of our giving.
Then, something happened that radically changed my thinking about missions giving. Check back next week. I’ll tell you all about in Part 2.