HAUGHTON, La. (BP) -- Within the past five years, First Baptist Church in Haughton, La., has made a commitment to go the second mile.
This can be seen in its partnerships with Southern Baptist missions and ministries in East Asia, northern Mexico, Wisconsin, central Louisiana, a nearby prison and metro Shreveport.
Besides this, the congregation that numbers about 750 in Sunday morning worship allocates 12 percent of undesignated receipts for missions through the Cooperative Program -- the way Southern Baptist churches pool their missions dollars for maximum impact in state conventions and throughout the world -- plus 1 percent more, directly to the SBC's International Mission Board.
"In the past our church has given 10 percent to missions through the Cooperative Program, but we want to give above and beyond what we felt was a tithe," said Gevan Spinney, the church's pastor for the last 10 years. "I think as Christians, God has called us to give above and beyond; it's that second-mile mentality. There's joy in that."
"Our people love the fact that we're involved with a cooperative effort to reach the nations," Spinney, a doctoral student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said. "We can do far more together than any of us could alone. There's power in unity and in moving in the same direction.
"The Cooperative Program is the best thing out there," he said. "When you realize the strength in all of us giving together to reach the world with the Gospel, it's amazing."
Known since its founding in 1885 for being exceedingly generous, First Baptist Haughton channeled that generosity into specific impact beginning five years ago.
"We had a shotgun approach to missions: We were supporting a dozen or more ministries financially," Spinney said. "We were hitting a lot of places, but we weren't a part of a real sustained impact partnership.
"Our church was very generous, but we weren't physically involved in going to the ends of the earth," the pastor said.
That changed after he was given, within a month, two copies of a book: "To the Ends of the Earth," by former IMB President Jerry Rankin.
"I was a young pastor; I just stepped in and kept moving with the tradition of the church, trying to get my feet under me," Spinney said. "But in this book Dr. Rankin said it wasn't the IMB's responsibility to do the Great Commission on behalf of the church. I thought, 'That's how we are set up.' Boy was that convicting."
Underscoring the local church's primary role in missions, Rankin noted there were about 6,500 unreached people groups and how local churches could work through the IMB to reach them. Read More