TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (BP) — Bradfordville First Baptist Church voted unanimously Dec. 8 to increase its Cooperative Program giving to 10 percent in 2020. That’s up from 1 percent the year Ronny Raines arrived six years ago as pastor.
The Cooperative Program is the way Southern Baptists work together to advance the Gospel in state Baptist conventions, across North America and throughout the world.
“The Cooperative Program is undoubtedly the best way to reach the world for Christ,” pastor Ronny Raines told Baptist Press. “This was a congregation who knew that. They just needed to see a way to support it.”
Bradfordville First was a church that had gotten bogged down in debt, the pastor said. Sixty percent of the offerings each month was needed to cover the debt from a previous building campaign. The pastor had left. The three vocational staff members had left. The first pastor search committee was having a hard time finding a candidate for pastor.
“Things weren’t good, as you can imagine,” Jim Overall told Baptist Press. A Bradfordville First member for 11 years, Overall is a deacon and Sunday School teacher. He and his wife had been drawn to the church when they moved nearby because it “was a beautiful building and the general make-up of the church fit our age group,” he said. Over time he saw a church that because of its indebtedness had gotten caught up in its own needs.
But hope and a zeal for missions flickered. Church members increased CP giving from zero percent in 2013 to 1 percent in 2014, Raines’ first year, and 2 percent the next year. Three penny-pinching years later, it was 4 percent.
After turning down the first pastor search committee, Raines said yes when a second committee contacted him.
“The mood of the church had changed,” he said. “My pastoral background deals with church revitalization, helping churches turn around. I’m Southern Baptist by heart and by choice. I believe in the Cooperative Program and what we’re doing in the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I told them I think the Cooperative Program is the best missions strategy in the world. Because of CP we’re able to partner with 47,000 churches to send missionaries and the Gospel around the world. That’s it: We can do more together than we can ourselves.”
Raines’ words stoked the church’s missions flame. So did visits to the church from some nationally-known Southern Baptists: Fred Luter, former president of the SBC; Chuck Kelley, then-president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, and others.
“They were able to tell how our Cooperative Program giving is making a difference,” Raines said. “Our giving increased as our CP giving increased, and we’re also seeing spiritual growth and numerical growth.”
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Source: Baptist Press