The Cooperative Program and the Widow’s Mite

I made a left hand turn and proceeded down a windy one lane road that continued to narrow the further I drove. The canopy of trees overhead enveloped the road in complete shadows as I contemplated whether I had wandered on to private property.

“There is no way I will find a church down this lane,” I thought to myself. As I was about to turn around, I saw peeking through the trees a white wood frame Kentucky Baptist church.

Pulling into the parking lot gave me a greater view of this church building that is occupied by about fifteen people on Sunday mornings. Sitting behind the church is a small structure that serves as the outhouse. Yes, you read that correctly. The church has no running water.

In 2022 the church reported receiving a total of $4,550 in offerings for the entire year. Despite their obvious challenges, this is a Cooperative Program giving church.

Obviously, the money they give to support our cooperative mission efforts could be used to improve the building, increase pay to the pastor, or install running water to the property. Instead of those expenditures, the church feels it is important to partner with other Kentucky Baptist churches by giving to support missions through the Cooperative Program.

Their pastor is a good shepherd who leads them well and clearly preaches the gospel. I asked him, “Why does the church give to support the Cooperative Program?” His reply was one I wish every member of every church could hear: “Why do we even exist if we are not supporting the spread of the gospel through the Cooperative Program.”

In addition to giving to CP, this small church is engaged in a variety of local mission opportunities. They realize their size is not a deterrent in having a kingdom impact.

This church is not likely to be listed as one of the top CP giving churches in our state but their sacrifice rivals that of the largest contributors.

In Mark 12, Jesus commends a widow for her gift of two small copper coins, worth less than a penny. He reminds His disciples that it is not the size of the gift but rather the size of the sacrifice by saying, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. For they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.”(Mark 12:43-44)

If a church who has less than $5,000 in annual offerings and worships in a building without running water can impact the world by giving to the Cooperative Program, then your church can too. If you would like to learn more about how your church can truly share in the worldwide spread of the gospel through the Cooperative program, contact me at and I would be elated to help.

KBC Partners With Your Theological Education

I met with a pastor recently who shared his testimony of working as a barber when the Lord called him to ministry. He knew he needed theological education but was unsure how he would pay for it. He had just purchased a car and knew he could not afford both tuition and a car payment. Determined to receive ministerial training, he returned to the local car lot that sold him the vehicle to ask if they would consider buying the car back. Upon hearing his story, not only did the salesman allow him to return the car, but let him borrow a car to drive back and forth to school. Additionally, this generous businessman contributed money each semester to help pay for his tuition. The pastor revealed there was no way he could have attended Bible college had it not been for a faithful Christian car salesman who came alongside him to support his theological education.

Like that car salesman, the Kentucky Baptist Convention desires to come alongside current and future Kentucky Baptist ministers to help them in their pursuit of theological education. We exist to serve Kentucky Baptist churches and one way we do that is by investing in the theological education of the current and future ministers of Kentucky Baptist churches.

This year we are excited to launch the Calling Out the Called Scholarship program which will provide $100,000 a year in tuition assistance for Kentucky Baptists attending one of our great in-state institutions — Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College.

Since the majority of KBC churches are led by bivocational pastors, and for some of them attending college or seminary full-time is not feasible, the scholarship is open to both part-time and full-time students. This allowance is a unique blessing for part-time students who traditionally have fewer scholarship options.  

Students are eligible for up to $1,200 a year in scholarship funds that are managed by the KBC Scholarship Committee.

To qualify, applicants must be:

  • A resident of KY who is a member of a cooperating KBC church
  • Called to ministry and pursuing a ministry-based bachelor or masters degree at CCBBC, Boyce or SBTS
  • Intend to serve as a minister or missionary in an SBC context

To apply, current or future students should visit to submit an electronic application that takes just five minutes to complete.

If you are called to ministry and desire theological education, we want you to know that you are not in this journey alone. The KBC desires to invest in your development by easing some of the burden you may experience paying for Bible College or Seminary.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention celebrates the opportunity to serve churches by helping develop current and future ministers. Yet another example of why we are truly #BetterTogether.

This Thanksgiving I am Thankful for the Cooperative Program

“Before we eat our Thanksgiving meal, let’s go around the room and have everyone share something they are thankful for.”

That request is enough to test the self-control of the most disciplined of individuals. While people smile politely on the outside, many of them are groaning on the inside as they endure a level of restraint uncommon to many Americans. With a delicious meal before them, an aroma that beckons the senses, and food that looks like it came from the set of the Food Network, the last thing some hungry family members want is to undergo the “Thanksgiving Tribulation”. In an attempt to hurry it along before the gravy cools, most family members announce the first thing that comes to their mind, often repeating what the person beside them just said.

This year, however, I am prepared for that question when it comes.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the Cooperative Program.

I say that not because I am a beneficiary of it, but because my position has provided a unique vantage point of the powerful ministry that is happening because of this amazing missions collaboration. 

Here are just a few reasons why this Thanksgiving we can be thankful for what is happening because of the SBC Cooperative Program:

  • Nearly 3,600 International Mission Board missionaries reported 176,795 new believers and 22,774 new churches started in just the past year.
  • NAMB church planters have started 9,200 churches in the US and Canada since 2010.
  • Through Sunrise Children’s Services, Kentucky Baptists are caring for approximately 750 foster children and have completed 50 adoptions this year.
  • Kentucky Baptists have served more than 900 Afghan refugees who resettled across our state this year. Churches were able to utilize Global Hunger funds to provide food to more than 550 Afghans during their first three months in Kentucky.
  • Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief has served hundreds of people, provided thousands of meals, and had 486 gospel conversations with 83 professions of faith as they ministered to victims of the tornado and flood. The development of KY C.A.R.E (Churches Assisting Rebuild Efforts) has provided grants to pastors and churches affected by natural disasters.
  • Kentucky Baptist Campus Ministries have a presence on 28 campuses across the state where in the last year they have witnessed 63 professions of faith.
  • Nearly 20,000 students attended Crossings Camps where over 900 of them were saved.
  • This year our six SBC seminaries graduated 861 Master of Divinity students which will provide more missionaries, pastors, worship ministers, and other leaders sent out to serve our churches.

There are thousands of new believers all across the world worshipping Jesus today because you and your church gave through the KBC to the SBC Cooperative Program. I am thankful for the many Kentucky Baptist Churches who believe we are better together by jointly supporting mission endeavors.

With a celebration like that, there is no reason to sweat what you will say when Aunt Beverly calls on you to share a Thanksgiving praise.

A warning though… if you start sharing ALL that the Cooperative Program does, just be prepared for the mashed potatoes to get cold.

Five Takeaways From Attending The SBC Executive Committee Meeting

(Photo Credit: Baptist Press)

The SBC Executive Committee convened in Nashville this week and I was fortunate to be in attendance with two colleagues from the Kentucky Baptist Convention. This was my first full SBC Executive Committee meeting and being present to observe allowed me to gain a greater understanding of how our convention handles business, interact with convention and entity leaders, and receive information to share with Kentucky Baptist churches.

Here are five takeaways from my experience with the SBC Executive Committee:

Southern Baptist Representation

The 86 members of the Executive Committee are a representative group of Southern Baptists. Nominated by the Committee on Nominations and elected by messengers at the annual meeting, this group is diversified geographically to represent all areas of our country. Since the SBC is not just a convention of pastors, at least one-third of the Executive Committee members must be non-ministers. This means approximately 30 of the members are teachers, bankers, nurses, lawyers, and homemakers. This unique setup ensures that people in our local church pews have significant leadership within our national convention. The size of the churches they represent varies and some may be surprised to learn that neither the current SBC President nor the EC Chairperson are mega-church pastors. Additionally, 26 of the current Executive Committee members are women or minorities. The SBC has grown in its diversity over the past several years and the makeup of the Executive Committee helps represent those trends. While there are some very talented and professional people on the SBC EC, it is not a committee of “elites” but rather a collection of people to which most Southern Baptists can relate.

It is a New Day for the Executive Committee

This group has been at the epicenter of some of the most difficult days in the history of the SBC. Much of the criticism was warranted but positive steps are being made. The comments this week were certainly sensitive to the issues Southern Baptists face as they are taking their job of sexual abuse response and financial stewardship seriously. The Abuse Response Implementation Task Force has begun its work and a new Caring Well Sunday was added to the annual SBC calendar to keep sexual abuse response forever on our minds. The meeting contained an appropriate level of remorse and resolve to keep children safe.

From all accounts I heard, the Executive Committee meeting felt different this time. There are certainly challenges before the committee, but the room contained a spirit of cooperation and hope for the future. I have been impressed with Interim President/CEO Willie McLaurin’s transparent and unifying leadership. I am thankful to have faithful Kentucky Baptists Nick Sandefur, John Lucas, Charles Frazier, and Marcella Crenshaw representing our state as important decisions are being made.

Cooperative Program Giving is Growing

Despite the painful past two years in Southern Baptist life, giving to the financial fuel for our mission work continues to grow. Nationwide SBC Cooperative Program giving for the fiscal year ending this month is projected to eclipse $200 million. This is the largest amount since 2008.

Additionally, special gifts of over $1 million were presented at the meeting. Lifeway delivered over $513,000 in mission offerings from their summer camps to support IMB and NAMB missionaries. The Southern Baptist Convention of Ohio presented the Executive Committee with a check for $500,000 for CP as proceeds from the sale of their Seneca Lake Baptist Camp.

The SBC is Becoming More Diverse

EC staff shared that 22.3% of our convention churches and 62% of churches planted during the pandemic are racially and ethnically diverse. There are presently over 3,200 Hispanic churches and 2,000 Asian churches representing 30 nationalities. Almost 1/3 of the members of the recently appointed Committee on Committees are minorities. There is hope this will strengthen diversity within our SBC leadership.

The SBC Executive Committee Needs Our Prayers

Major issues are at hand such as the search for a new SBC EC President/CEO and helping to make the SBC a place where no sex abuser can ever hide again. Making sound financial decisions, carrying out the desires of the messengers, and communicating well to churches are paramount during this time of transition.

Will you please join me in prayer for all 86 of our Executive Committee members and the 30 Executive Committee employees?

3 things that make Oneida Baptist Institute great

Last week, hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students began a new school year at the Oneida Baptist Institute. I had the honor of preaching at the staff worship service as this team of dedicated servants prepared for the year to begin. As I participated in the service, I was reminded of three things that make Oneida Baptist Institute great.  

Oneida’s Mission Makes It Great

In 1900, James Anderson Burns opened a school in Oneida to bring Christian education to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The school’s mission statement later became “Education for Time and Eternity,” communicating the idea that they exist not just to educate students but to point them toward the giver of everlasting life. For over a century, OBI has taught countless numbers of boys and girls what it means to be a follower of Christ. While many students come from the local community, others are boarding students who come from across the state, nation, and world to attend Oneida Baptist Institute. These students receive a quality education, attend daily chapel services, and learn responsibility by working a job on campus. Students’ lives are being transformed because of the ministry of Oneida Baptist Institute.

Oneida’s Staff Makes It Great

The faculty and staff of Oneida Baptist Institute are truly missionaries in the mountains. A man named Ricky shared a testimony that several years ago he spent his vacation volunteering at OBI. Before the conclusion of the two weeks, the Lord called him to serve full-time at OBI. Like Ricky, every staff member has been called to this mission field. They range from long-term faithful servants like Denise Spender, who received recognition for 30 years of service to couples like Jacob and Anna who were experiencing their first day on the job. The entire staff is encouraged by the strong and humble leadership of President Larry Gritton. He is a special leader who frequently applauds the sacrifice and faithfulness of the people who make OBI a special place.

Oneida’s Donors Make It Great

During their opening worship service, a designated prayer time was held for friends and donors of the school. Since Martha Hogg’s gift in 1899 of 10 acres of land to build the school upon, God has used donors to play an important role in the life of OBI. Some gifts are small. One precious lady gave multiple times over a series of years and her gifts totaled less than a dollar. Other gifts are very large, like the former student who donated millions of dollars to construct a new dormitory. Still, every donor is equally celebrated. The faithfulness of its donors has allowed OBI to remain a bright light in the darkest of times.

Oneida Baptist Institute’s largest donor is the Kentucky Baptist Convention, giving over $7.5 million in Cooperative Program dollars to OBI in the past 20 years. Generous donors like the KBC have enabled local students to pay less tuition today ($0) than they did in 1900 ($1 a month). When your Kentucky Baptist church gives to the Cooperative Program you are helping provide Christian education to mountain children and boarding students at Oneida Baptist Institute.

With a great mission, dedicated staff, and generous volunteers, the Oneida Baptist Institute is a shining star of our cooperative work as Kentucky Baptists. Thousands of students whose lives have been transformed at the Oneida Baptist Institute would testify that we are #BetterTogether.

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