Increased missions support is encouraging, but it’s just a beginning.
The new year brought encouraging news to the IBSA office: In 2015, churches gave more than $6.2 million through the Cooperative Program, which funds missions and ministry in Illinois, across the country, and around the globe.
That’s $93,914 more than in 2014, an increase of 1.53%.
“We certainly are grateful to each IBSA church that continues to prioritize missions and ministries beyond their church by giving through the Cooperative Program,” said IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams, in response to the increase.
Founded in 1925, the Cooperative Program works when churches send a percentage of their tithes and offerings to their state convention, which then forwards a percentage—Illinois sends 43.25%—to support and train more than 4,000 international missionaries, plus 5,600 missionaries and chaplains in North America.
The remainder—56.25%—stays in Illinois to help get the gospel to eight million people who don’t know Christ, to strengthen nearly 1,000 existing churches, and to help start new congregations in neighborhoods with little to no evangelical presence.
Over the past several years, cooperative giving has been hampered by economic downturn. Adams noted that 2015 giving still fell behind 2012 and 2013 (and IBSA’s peak year of 2009).
“Throughout most of 2015, Cooperative Program giving in Illinois was running one to two percent behind 2014, so when giving surged in December and ended up higher than 2014, we were very encouraged,” he said. “I know a number of churches that have been struggling in various ways, and I hope this upturn in giving is an indication of greater church health and strength in 2016.”
The Southern Baptist Executive Committee shared its own good news in October, when they reported a 1.39% increase in nationwide CP giving over the previous fiscal year. The increase can be credited at least in part to the “1% CP Challenge” issued to churches by Executive Committee President Frank Page.
Last year, Baptist Press reported more than 4,400 churches have met or exceeded the challenge to increase their giving through CP by 1%. Page has said that if every SBC church accepted the challenge, CP giving would increase by $100 million.
Looking into 2016, Adams echoed the challenge. “I would join our national SBC partners in urging churches to embrace percentage giving from their annual budgets, and to consider a 1% increase in CP giving this next year.”
For Cooperative Program promotional resources, contact IBSA’s Church Communications Team at (217) 391-3127 or Communications@IBSA.org.