Church members ponder, 'What more can I do?'
EDITOR'S NOTE: Cooperative Program Sunday will be April 22 in the Southern Baptist Convention.
MARION, Ky. (BP) -- Even though Mexico Baptist Church already was giving 25 percent of its undesignated receipts through the Cooperative Program, the rural Kentucky congregation wanted to do more for Christ.
Led by pastor Tim Burdon, the congregation set a goal of giving more dollars through CP than ever before by asking each member to increase his or her weekly gift to the church by $3.
Because it gives through CP on a percentage basis, the congregation knew that increased offerings would mean more dollars for local ministry as well as for Southern Baptists' plan for supporting missions and ministry in the state and around the world.
So far Mexico Baptist in Marion is on pace to break its previous CP giving record of approximately $102,000 in a year.
The church's renewed focus on CP came in response to the Kentucky Baptist Convention's "More for Christ" initiative, a call to repentance and spiritual renewal embraced by messengers to the 2010 KBC annual meeting as a three-year focus.
When former KBC president Floyd Paris "challenged the convention to do more for Christ," Burdon said, "that's really where this started." It was Paris who came up with the "Three More for Christ" challenge to Kentucky Baptists to increase their weekly church offerings by $3.
Along with increasing CP giving and individual giving, members of Mexico Baptist adopted five other More for Christ goals they hope to accomplish over the next three to five years:
-- Increase involvement in GROW, the church's outreach ministry, which involves contacting prospects by phone, writing them letters and visiting them.
-- Offer additional evangelism training opportunities.
-- Individually, spend more time with God in private devotionals.
-- Achieve an average Sunday School attendance of 200, up from 174 in 2010.
-- Increase hands-on involvement in mission work, particularly through the Kentucky-St. Louis Partnership launched this year. St. Louis is less than four hours from the church.
After the adoption of these goals in December, Burdon preached a series of sermons related to them. In January, Mexico Baptist held an official kickoff with Billy Compton, KBC executive associate for Cooperative Program and resources, as the guest preacher.
Compton said the church was packed that day with people eager to reach their community, their state, their nation and the world for Christ.
"Our overall goal as a convention to do more for Christ wasn't just for big churches," Compton said. "Here's a [smaller] church that's having a tremendous impact. I pray that God will multiply the Mexico Baptist Churches of the world."
For longtime member Denny Mott, giving through CP sacrificially is an important way to work to fulfill the Great Commission -- a concept he said always seems to catch on with new members.
"Even though we've got lots of new people in the last two years, it seems like as they come in, they sort of jump on the bandwagon too," Mott said of CP giving. "That's just something the Lord has laid on the people here, and I think we enjoy it."
Mott credits Burdon with casting the More for Christ vision, but "the people have really embraced it," he said, adding that the new goals can help the church bolster its spiritual health.
Already Mexico Baptist is making progress, with Burdon reporting that giving has increased, new people have joined the outreach ministry and Sunday School attendance is up slightly.
To advance the missions goal, the church Woman's Missionary Union has made more than 100 witnessing dolls that serve as visual aids for Gospel presentations.
Still, the pastor knows enthusiasm could wane over time. So he has planned special events and emphases "through these three to five years that will ... remind us and challenge us" to continue working toward the goals."
KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood praised Mexico Baptist Church as a model for churches around the state.
"Pastor Tim Burdon and the church family of Mexico Baptist are among our best examples of a Kentucky Baptist Convention church committed to being a part of something bigger than themselves," Chitwood said. "While they faithfully share Christ in their community, they have not lost sight of our Lord's command in Acts 1:8.
"Through their sacrificial support of Cooperative Program missions, they provide a witness for Christ throughout Kentucky, North America and to the very ends of the earth," Chitwood said. "I pray more KBC churches will follow the lead of Mexico Baptist and embrace the vision of cooperative mission work to advance the Gospel."
David Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville, Ky.