A Culture of Cooperation

Almost six years ago, I wrote an article on this blog titled “A Culture of Cooperation,” reprinted below. This text reflects your State Board’s ongoing passion for Great Commission ministries, which began with a fresh recommitment in 1998 that persists to the present day.

As our denomination seeks a path forward amidst our nation’s Great Recession, the fact is that state conventions have been sending higher percentages to the SBC in recent years. Until the recession, the total dollars were increasing as well. The Great Recession didn’t change percentages, but it has reduced the amount of funds received and thus forwarded to the SBC.

Traditionally, state conventions and the SBC have been partners, not adversaries. The way forward is partnership. The way to conflict is to be adversarial. Partnering for the gospel was Paul’s way of doing missions. Others have chosen conflict/adversarial relationships, and the Kingdom suffered!
Alabama Baptists are proud to be one of 42 state conventions that support the SBC. We need to remember that only one state convention supports our beloved family of Alabama Baptist missions and ministries. Alabama Baptists are glad to be first in total dollars given through the Cooperative Program for SBC causes. Remarkably, we are also first in per-member CP giving to SBC causes as well!

Thanks for considering these thoughts. Thanks even more for your gifts through the Cooperative Program and for praying for your state missionaries.

“Culture” is a buzz word used in the vernacular of our day. It is a general term that can be used in numerous ways. In the world of business there is talk of “corporate culture.” Educators speak of an “academic culture.” “Church culture” is a term applied to denominations and local churches alike.

Since 1925 Southern Baptists and Alabama Baptists have been champions of a “culture of cooperation” called the Cooperative Program. Despite our differences of opinion on some issues, the Cooperative Program has been the personification of this “culture of cooperation.”

In writing to the church at Corinth in I Corinthians 1:10-17, the Apostle Paul was appealing to that community of faith to embody a “culture of cooperation.” Recently I reflected upon these scriptural insights as a lens through which we as Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists can continue to be champions of the Cooperative Program.

Corinth was a troubled church beset with an array of relational, doctrinal and even moral concerns. The secular culture in which they lived often permeated the church. This, of course, is not unlike our day. The first century and the 21st centuries are more alike than we would like to admit. Therefore, the counsel of the Apostle Paul concerning the “culture of cooperation” is applicable to us in a most meaningful way.

The “culture of cooperation” is built upon a concrete foundation. Paul declares, “Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus…” (NLT). This affirmation emphasizes the concrete foundation on which we have built our sense of commitment to the cause of Christ as well as our “culture of cooperation.” The Cooperative Program is a unified means of building upon our cooperative mission efforts.

Our “culture of cooperation” is blessed with a clear focus. The focus is upon the Great Commission. That is why your State Board of Missions has sought to take the lead in being Great Commission ministers as state missionaries. Empowering Kingdom Growth through Great Commission Ministries is our clear focus. Again, the Cooperative Program reflects that emphasis. Not everything can be included in the budget of the Cooperative Program, but it is an inclusive approach to funding mission efforts in our state, in North America and internationally.

Our “culture of cooperation” is broadened by a compassionate fellowship. Fellowship is one of those rich biblical terms that means more than having “chips and dip” after church on Sunday evening. It speaks of a shared experience and shared values. The Cooperative Program exemplifies our shared values of reaching the world for Christ with a sense of collaboration.

Our “culture of cooperation” is brightened by a common future. As believers, we share a common future in Christ. Our challenge is to “work till Jesus comes.” The Cooperative Program is an active agent for God’s Kingdom because the ministries we have in common really never sleep. Every minute of the day the “culture of cooperation” is at work through the Cooperative Program.

In I Corinthians 1:10 Paul appealed to the Corinthians to experience and exemplify “real harmony.” That sounds like a “culture of cooperation” to me. In 1925 our spiritual ancestors developed a “culture of cooperation” that birthed the Cooperative Program. The Kingdom of God is the bigger and the better for it. In every generation Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists must reemphasize the “culture of cooperation.” Now is our time to do just that! I invite you and your church to touch the world and to make a kingdom difference by systematically supporting missions through the Cooperative Program.

Executive Director of Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

State Missionary Rick Lance was elected in June of 1998 to serve as executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Rick leads state missions efforts and facilitates Great Commission Ministries for the Convention's 3,200+ churches and more than one million Alabama Baptists.

Rick and his wife, Pam, are members at First Baptist Church, Montgomery. They have two daughters.

Any requests for Rick Lance to speak in or visit your church should be directed to Billie Davis at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 253 or (334) 613-2253, [email protected]

For questions about Dr. Lance's Facebook and Twitter accounts or his blog site, you may contact his social media assistant, Keith Hinson, at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 289 or (334) 613-2289, [email protected]