The cooperation of local churches in the SBC represents a biblical model that has achieved mostly biblical results. In Paul’s epistles, we read of a clear cooperation between independent churches as they pooled resources and people to assist the impoverished churches in Judea. Faithful churches, like the one at Philippi, and less faithful ones, like the one at Corinth, still cooperated for this biblical purpose. Apparently this kind of cooperation extended to Great Commission purposes too, as Paul expected the Roman church to assist him in reaching Spain. With that said, a cooperation of orthodox churches is always stronger and more capable of fulfilling the Great Commission than a single church in isolation. And I would add that 47,000 local churches cooperating in this way will be able to extend the gospel with a much greater reach than smaller associations and alliances of like-minded churches. In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said the end will only come after we reach every nation with the gospel. Therefore, we should all make this our church’s number one priority.
Applying this concept of cooperation to the SBC, no other group of churches, nor any individual church, even comes close to what the SBC accomplishes for the kingdom. For example, the International Mission Board currently funds 3,678 missionaries all over the world. In 2018, 847 unreached people groups were engaged by missionaries. In the same year, 13,898 new churches were planted outside of the U.S. Amazingly, 77,605 people confessed Christ as Lord, of which 52,586 were baptized. The 3,000 plus missionaries are also effective at producing more gospel ministers: 18,428 pastors were trained overseas and 85,362 indigenous leaders received theological, pastoral, and church planter training. With this kind of work being accomplished, our generation may at last finish the Great Commission. Within our own hemisphere, the North American Mission Board planted 624 new churches in 2018 and sent 3,600 chaplains into the military, prisons, hospitals, and natural disasters. As an Army chaplain, I am enabled to preach the gospel in a unique environment because NAMB sends me as a missionary.
My heart is to see this cooperation grow. I would love to see the arm and reach of the IMB and NAMB extend even further. At the same time, I pray for biblical fidelity in the midst of a North American culture that increasingly assaults the Christian worldview. One key to that is the training up of seminaries faithful to the Bible. They can train a generation of pastors that contends for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The SBC’s six seminaries work toward that end. I pray that God would bless this cooperation and strengthen the SBC in biblical faithfulness and biblical fruit.
Soli Deo Gloria