Of the six billion people who are living in the world today, fewer than 20 percent know Jesus Christ as their savior, according to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which is motivating its member churches to take on the 1% Challenge to increase giving to the Cooperative Program.
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, first initiated the SBC's 1% Challenge to its 45,000 member churches two years ago.
Since that time, 15 percent of Southern Baptist churches either have adopted the program, or are seriously considering adopting the 1 percent-of-budget increase in Cooperative Program giving.
If all 45,000 churches made the decision to accept the 1% Challenge, $100 million in additional funds would be directed to Southern Baptist missions and ministries.
"The 1% Challenge is making a difference," Page said to members of the SBC's Executive Committee in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday.
Page credits much of the program's success to the Rev. Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, "who has taken the program as a personal challenge, and has sent out videos to every state convention," Page said. "He's adopted the challenge in his own church, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, and has also sent out encouraging messages to Southern Baptist churches across the nation."
The SBC has released a series of videos to inspire pastors and church members to take action by participating in the 1% Challenge in order to expand Southern Baptist missions and ministries' local, national and global efforts.
Likewise, the goal of the 1% Challenge is to ignite a grassroots effort – among not only the megachurches – but all churches, to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The videos include impactful calls to action, such as: "We need a unified, grassroots vision for advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ." And to "fuel the Great Commission to ensure a strong home base and an aggressive global vision." The process is three fold: "Personally engage in missions, personally invest in missions, and personally advance a missions movement. Giving sacrificially to both missions and ministries [thus] multiplying missions' efforts locally and around the world."
According to information provided by the 1% Challenge, more than 800 churches were established through this program, last year alone. Also, contributions to the program enabled ministries to mobilize 10,571 missionaries that were coordinated by the International Missions Board, the North American Missions Board, and individual state conventions.
"We sought to take the 1% Challenge for no other reason than to bring glory to God," said the Rev. Trey Etheridge, of Briarwood Baptist Church in Saline, La. "There are approximately 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups. We seek to glorify God by taking His gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation and the Cooperative Program is the vehicle through which that task can be accomplished."
In an interview posted on the SBC's Cooperative Program's website, Page said that the 1% Challenge is a "simple and succinct way for Southern Baptist churches to do something more." He added that he wants people to think of giving "through" the Cooperative Program, as opposed to "to" the program, which benefits Southern Baptist missions and ministries, and enables the SBC to "get missionaries to the field and keep them there.
"The 1% Challenge can be easily acted upon, because it can be done without shifting major sections of churches' finances," Page said.