As Florida Baptists send more money to reach the nations through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program (CP), pastors across the state, in turn, are leading their churches to increase their giving. 

Many said their actions were influenced by the decision of Florida Baptists, under the leadership of Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green, to send 51 percent of the funds from Florida churches to the SBC Cooperative Program. The decision increased the percentage amount earmarked for the SBC from 2015 to 2016 by nearly nine percent. As a result, in 2016, Florida Baptists will give away more than they keep in state.

City Church in Tallahassee is doubling their Cooperative Program giving, reported Pastor Dean Inserra. “The vision of Tommy Green has compelled us to join him in his efforts in funding the Great Commission efforts of Southern Baptists throughout America and around the world.”

Florida Baptists had been trying to get to a 50-50 split between national and state causes since 2010. But with a financial downturn in the economy, little progress had been made.

Inserra said the lack of movement toward that goal “was frustrating to watch.”

“Now there is reason to get on board. We can’t just vocally support these changes, but must act with the same urgency Tommy Green has displayed through his leadership,” he added.

James Ross, pastor of Mosaic Church in Crestview, said the church has increased its giving from $700 to $1,000 per month.

Ross said at one time, church leaders had planned to give 5 percent of the budget to the Cooperative Program, but had “shifted some of that to other missions giving.”

“However, with Dr. Green’s leadership and focus on an effective and efficient Convention that places a greater emphasis on supporting the local church to reach our state, we decided to start heading in the other direction,” he said.  “We hope that this is just the beginning,”

“This is a decision based completely on our confidence in Dr. Green’s character and competency to lead our State Convention and the State Board of Missions that supports him,” Ross added.

Greg Kell, senior pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Inverness, said their increase in CP giving to 14 percent of undesignated offerings represents a long-time commitment from his congregation.

Several years ago, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention voted to encourage every church that could to increase its CP giving by one percent, Kell recalled. At that time, Cornerstone was giving 13 percent of their undesignated offerings to the Cooperative Program.

“We came back from the Convention and immediately approved a change to 13 ½ percent  Last year (2015) we moved to 13.75 percent and this year (2016) we have moved to 14 percent–fulfilling the challenge we were given to raise our CP giving by one percent,” he explained.

“Here at Cornerstone we simply heard and accepted the challenge of our SBC leaders and, because we believe in the Cooperative Program want to do everything we possibly can to help get the gospel to the ends of the world,” Kell added.

“Dr. Tommy Green’s leadership here in the Florida Baptist Convention over the past six months has challenged us now to pray about even larger steps in our future, and we believe together we can reach the world.”

Increasing their gifts through the Cooperative Program was an act of obedience for one Southwest Florida congregation.

After preaching through the book of Malachi and stressing the Biblical admonition of tithing, Pastor Timothy Pigg was asked by the leadership team at First Baptist Church in Immokalee if they should be tithing as a whole, as well as individually.

Since taking the helm of the church seven months before, the young pastor had led the congregation through a revitalization process by intentionally reaching its community.  But he knew finances were tight.

However, after much prayer, the church voted to increase its Cooperative Program giving to 10 percent, raising their gift annually from $10,000 to nearly $24,000.

The pastor reported that sending that first check in January had not adversely affected the balance of the church’s checking account. And when an unexpected cost of new sound equipment arose, the church was able to fund it and still had money left over in the bank.

“Tithing works for a church,” said Pigg. “It is neat to see when you are obedient to God’s word, He is faithful.”

By Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention, February 2, 2016

To download Cooperative Program promotion resources for your church, go to flbaptist.org/2016-cooperative-program-promotion/