Remember the 98%

At his recent inauguration as the sixth President of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Dr. Charlie Goodman made this statement about the cooperative work of Southern Baptists: 

“I understand not everything is perfect in our world, convention, or churches. But when you look at how our money is spent in our convention — it is just over 2 percent that goes to the things we hear the most fussing about. I am persuaded we can’t burn down the entity as a result of 2 percent. 

“If we lose our urgency when it comes to the Cooperative Program, it will never be replicated in our lifetime. Thank you to those of you who are part of churches who participate in the Cooperative Program, specifically Kentucky Baptist Convention churches. Some of your gifts make their way back here, and we are thankful for that. But my support is not just because it helps supports us, but I believe through it we can reach the world with the gospel. We have to have urgency.” 

Dr. Goodman makes an important point. We must address the 2% issues that threaten our volunteer cooperation, but we must address those issues while not losing focus on the 98% that we want to see sustained and multiplied for gospel advancement nationally and internationally. 

How can we address the 2% while fueling the 98%? Here are five suggestions: 

1. Gather the appropriate information. In our day of social media posts and internet news, we must be more careful than ever to avoid slander and spreading unfounded rumor. The danger of misrepresenting a gospel work or a Christian brother or sister demands that we check our facts when we have an area of concern. I am always glad to receive phone calls or emails to help people who want to be sure they have a story straight. When you discover an area of concern, set out to gather the facts.  

2. Talk to the right people. The right people will always include those who are closest to the facts or those who are able to do something about the situation. Recently I had a concern about a decision made by a brother in a position of national leadership. I went directly to him with my concern and urged others to do the same. This practice alone can go a long way toward addressing our concerns while sustaining our work. We must always be diligent to talk to people instead of talking about them.  

3. Treat each other as brothers and sisters. Even when we disagree, and disagree sharply, we can still treat brothers and sisters with respect and decency. Our volunteer cooperation as Southern Baptists is built on trust. Trust is often gained or lost by how we treat one another. It is possible to disagree and do so in a kind and respectful manner. We must strive for that in every interaction.  

4. Pray and work toward a God-honoring solution. Problems exist to be solved. Most of our problems can have a God-honoring solution if we will work together toward that end. We must never be those who complain for the sake of complaining or to tear down something that others have built. We must be redemptive in our efforts to solve problems and move forward together.  

5. Address the 2% while celebrating the 98%. Bro. Charlie said it right in his inaugural address that if we lose our sense of urgency when it comes to the Cooperative Program, it will never be replicated in our lifetime. God has used Southern Baptists for decades and is still doing so today. While we address our problems, we must at the same time celebrate lives being changed by the gospel, churches being planted among unreached people, ministers being trained and people being helped in times of disaster.  

I have seen all five of the above-listed unity and kingdom-building approaches practiced by Kentucky Baptists and for that I am incredibly grateful. Thank you for being a convention of churches, and leaders of churches, that want to solve problems while advancing the gospel.  

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