1. Sunday School Lesson


CP Missions
Sunday School Lesson

By Mark Snowden

Scripture Focus: Acts 11:19-30
 1. A Cooperative Church Reaches Out.    Acts 11:19-24
 2. A Cooperative Church Calls Out Leaders.  Acts 11:25-26
 3. A Cooperative Church Provides Support.  Acts 11:27-30
Teaching Objective: Help class participants understand the biblical basis for why our church supports CP Missions and challenge them to become personally involved in missions.
1. A Cooperative Church Reaches Out.  
Acts 11:19-24
19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
This brief passage in Acts provides us with a wonderful model between an established church in Jerusalem and other churches. The Scripture focuses upon Antioch, a Syrian city from which the Christian faith would eventually begin an unstoppable church planting movement.
The early church was on the move, spreading the good news of Jesus wherever they went. Persecution had been fierce. A young man named Saul is mentioned in Acts as having been a leader of the persecution. After his dramatic conversion, Saul preached the truth about Jesus. Then he retreated to his home in Tarsus. Saul later became a great Christian leader and on a missions trip, changed his name to Paul.
As the early church spread, a significant foothold for the gospel developed by the “Lord’s hand” in Antioch. So many Jews and Gentiles were coming to faith in Jesus that this wonderful news eventually reached the church leaders (elders) in Jerusalem. A man named Barnabas was sent to Antioch to check things out. Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus. His reputation as an encourager and familiarity with the region made him a natural for the job. The Jerusalem church’s love and concern for fellow believers in Antioch called the church to action and personal involvement. Barnabas’ presence—even as an “outsider”—did nothing but augment the rapid growth in Antioch. The point is that the Jerusalem church’s contributions of leadership to the young church at Antioch accelerated response to the gospel in that distant land.
Application: Our church is part of a movement that started in 1845. This is when the Southern Baptist Convention was established. A commitment to missions has always been the trademark for Southern Baptists. China was one of the very first places to which missionaries were appointed. However, due to the Civil War and other economic disasters, financial support was spotty and erratic. The Southern Baptist seminaries and missions agencies often asked for funds simultaneously and competed during times of emergencies. Most of the agencies and institutions borrowed money for operating funds, and debt became a nagging problem. Missionaries, such as Lottie Moon, would have to leave the field to visit churches and appeal for financial support. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions was named in her memory and because of her zeal to take up special missions offerings at Christmas.
In 1925, Southern Baptists decided to unify their giving approach. This united missions support was named the Cooperative Program. During the last 79 years, Cooperative Program (CP) Missions has become the most expansive, effective, and efficient missions support program in the world.
Just think if the church at Antioch had been ignored. The early church could have struggled for decades to reach its potential, yet because believers in Jerusalem cared enough to look beyond their own needs, the church began to thrive. The same is true today. Churches around our state, country, and world are struggling with persecution from anti-Christian forces, young believers go without being discipled in God’s Word because of a lack of teachers, and benevolent ministries try to “make do.”
2. A Cooperative Church Calls Out Leaders.  
Acts 11:25-26
25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Barnabas quickly recognized the need for qualified leadership in Antioch. Barnabas remembered that Saul had been bold in his witness in Damascus and among the elders in Jerusalem. Saul had retreated to Tarsus. We do not know why, but many speculate that Saul was working through Scripture and spending time listening and learning what God would have him do with his life. At any rate, when Barnabas appealed to Saul for help, he was ready. They worked together for a solid year in a teaching ministry at Antioch.
The outcome of Barnabas’ efforts is captured in a powerful statement. The word “Christian” literally means “little Christs.” Saul and Barnabas had helped the church at Antioch to become so rooted in their faith that their distinctive faith set them apart. The believers were reflecting Christ’s teachings so strongly that the people of Antioch called these early believers by the name of Christians. What a blessing!
Southern Baptists today are vitally concerned about people everywhere. We know that people across the street as well as those across the sea need a personal relationship with Christ. There is only so much our church can do, but when we combine our efforts and resources with our 43,000 sister churches, people everywhere can have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. Jesus said the world will know us by our love (John 13:35). One of the ways we reflect Christ and show our love is by partnering together with other Southern Baptists to fulfill the Great Commission.
Our state convention is dedicated to missions and evangelism and reflecting Christ to the people of our state. Our church designates a certain percentage, or a set amount, of its tithes and offerings to CP Missions. The money goes first to our state convention for ministries such as church planting, missions education, campus evangelism, church leadership and development, and many other vital ministries. On the average, 65% of CP Missions goes towards state missions and ministries, and 35% is forwarded to the work of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Cooperative Program (CP) Missions supports over 5,300 missionary personnel who are engaging more than 1370 people groups around the world through the International Mission Board (IMB). These missionaries work like Barnabas and Saul did - working with local believers -- to baptize 510,357 new believers in 2003. Your CP Missions gifts also support over 5,100 missionaries through the North American Mission Board (NAMB). NAMB helps start over 1,430 new churches in 2003 and coordinates the efforts of local church missions volunteers. NAMB also supports the work of 2,407 chaplains and uses its Broadcast Communications division to spread the gospel to a potential worldwide audience of more than 700 million.
Where do missionaries, pastors, and other ministry leaders receive their training? Southern Baptists sponsor six top-rated theological seminaries for this exact purpose. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has enormous influence on moral issues facing our nation. The Annuity Board provides relief for retired ministers and their widows, many who live below poverty level.
As the church at Antioch was blessed by having trained leaders, so churches today are blessed by God-called men and women in leadership positions across the Southern Baptist Convention. Their service is made possible by CP Missions.
3. A Cooperative Church Provides Support.   
Acts 11:27-30
27During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
Barnabas and Saul were elected to represent the Christians at Antioch. They did not travel to Jerusalem with empty words of good cheer. The disciples in Antioch took the prophecy of Agabus very seriously. God had divinely warned the church that their brothers and sisters in Christ in Judea would soon be in severe physical need. They pooled their money and sent their best to Jerusalem for distribution.
The church in Antioch gave “according to his ability” because they became aware of the need. The church at Antioch showed appreciation for Barnabas and Saul by entrusting their gift with these two great leaders.
Are you aware of the needs of people around you? How about the needs of those across the planet or your fellow Southern Baptists? Publications like The Commission (International Mission Board), On Mission (North American Mission Board), Baptist Press ( www.bpnews.net ), and our state paper spell out the needs of Christians around the world. Internet Web sites like SBC.net ( www.sbc.net ) are global links to the missionaries and ministries you support through CP Missions. Telephone prayer hotlines are also available to spell out the needs of Christians everywhere.
CP Missions allows a “24/7/365” response. Your CP Missions gift is at work literally in every time zone of the world. While you are at work, CP Missions is active - distributing Bibles in the Persian speaking world, providing for a car in the mountains of western Guatemala for IMB missionaries, and even providing financial support to an Indian reservation pastor out among the Navajo.
If “two are better than one” (Eccl. 4:9) how much better are 16 million? This is the current membership in 43,000 Southern Baptist churches across the country. With a global population exceeding six billion and a command to take the gospel to every nation, we must recommit ourselves, as individuals and as congregations, to partner together in spreading the good news of God’s love and forgiveness in our states, our nation, and our world.
How can you support CP Missions?

· By praying. Pray regularly for Southern Baptist missionaries in our state and around the globe.
· By going. Be involved in some sort of missions endeavor. Talk with your Pastor about the opportunities available. You are God’s missionary right where you are.
· By giving. Out of love for the Lord, give regularly to Him through your church. If you are not tithing, begin to do so and also discover the blessings of giving beyond the tithe.

CP Missions is all about people – people sending people and people reaching people. Simply defined, CP Missions is caring people partnering together to touch the world.
All Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright ã 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

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