The Cooperative Program (CP): A Beginner’s Guide

The Cooperative Program (CP): A Beginner’s Guide

Written By Lisa Kooiman

The Cooperative Program (CP): A Beginner’s Guide

Do you know what the Cooperative Program is or its purpose?

Do you know that there is a whole day, actually, a month, set aside for Southern Baptists to focus on its significance? (By the way, October 1st and, you guessed it, the October focus if you consult your SBC calendar!)  

Did you just apprehensively squinch your eyes nearly closed because you’re not quite sure?

You are not alone. Sure, there probably is a good number of people that could recite the ins and outs, the purpose, why it’s important, and just exactly how it all works, but for good measure, let’s tackle all the details together in this short “Beginner’s Guide to The Cooperative Program.”

The Cooperative Program is

Southern Baptists’ unified plan for giving,

through which cooperating Southern Baptist churches

give a percentage of funding support

to their respective state convention

and the SBC missions and ministries.

How does this plan actually work? That’s probably your next question. Well, from the tithe you give to your church, the church votes on what percentage they plan to send to the California Southern Baptist Convention. Each year, the messengers who attend the state annual meeting vote to determine what percentage of the funds received from the churches will stay in the state to support local missions and ministries and what percentage of funds to forward to SBC. Each year at the National Annual Meeting, messengers vote to determine how the gifts received from the states will be distributed among the SBC entities.

Why did our Southern Baptist leaders of days gone by even create this program? The mission of the Southern Baptist Convention has always been The Great Commission. With that came competition among entities and overlapping pledge campaigns, resulting in severe financial deficits. Some entities even had to take out loans to cover operating costs until pledges or special offerings were received.

In 1919, SBC leaders proposed a 5-year, $75 million dollar pledge campaign that would include everything – missions and ministries of all the state conventions as well as SBC itself. Thus, in 1925, the Cooperative Program was officially launched. Since its inception, there have been multiple reasons why CP has become an essential part of Southern Baptist life.

  • First, it presents a unified and comprehensive budget that acts as an umbrella covering statewide, national, and international missions and ministries. This gives a whole new meaning to saving for a rainy day!
  • Secondly, it provides long-term sustainability for our entities. It adheres to the Baptist principle that “we can do more together than alone,” (while also reinforcing the CSBC motto “Better Together” established by CSBC Executive Director Pete Ramirez).

The Cooperative Program eliminates the competition between entities and ministries as they all benefit and operate from the same allocation of funds. It also levels the playing field by creating a place at the table for the mega church, small church, urban church, ethnic church, rural church, and the revitalized church, all being able to have a say about the allocation and destination of the funds from across the nation.

In 2025, the Cooperative Program will be celebrating its 100th birthday. Think of the impact it has had over the course of this centennial celebration! California Southern Baptists set a goal of $6 million for 2023. We are only about 65% of the way to meeting that goal. So, as we step into “Focus on the Cooperative Program” month for October, consider what difference and impact you can make in helping our California church family reach this goal or plan for 2024!

We are Better Together!

About the Author

Lisa Kooiman
Executive Assistant, Office of Communications, CSBC

Lisa Kooiman serves as the executive assistant in the Office of Communications for the California Southern Baptist Convention. She is a graduate of California State University, Fresno. Lisa and her husband, Ruben, are enjoying the season of parenthood with their preschool daughter, Everly. They attend the Old Town Campus of Clovis Hills Community Church, the very church (under different leadership and name) where Lisa made a profession of faith and was baptized as a young girl.

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