NORTH WALES, Pa., (BRN) – Since 2001, when he and his family moved from Lakeland, Florida, to 20 miles north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, John Cope, Send Network director of Pennsylvania/South Jersey and senior pastor/overseer of Keystone Church, has watched the Cooperative Program (CP) impact his life.
“It [the Cooperative Program] was impacting me when I didn’t even know anything about it,” said Cope.
He continued: “I didn’t grow up in church; I didn’t grow up in a Baptist church. I gave my life to Christ when I was a senior in high school, and started dating a Christian girl. She goes to a Baptist college, so I’m thinking I’m going to Baptist college,” said Cope, smirking and chuckling at the reasoning of his younger self.
For four years, Cope attended a Baptist college in a state where Cooperative Program dollars were aiding his education. During his senior year, he felt God’s tug into full time ministry. He then continued his education at a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminary and, again, benefited from CP giving.
Generous giving to the Cooperative Program then made another appearance in Cope’s life when he and his family moved north to plant their first church, Keystone Montgomeryville.
“When we moved up, we did have a sending church…[and] they helped us, but the BRN came along and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) helped train us, equip us and give us resources, not just financially, but just training and coaching of how to plant a church, and it continues to this day,” said Cope.
A couple years following the planting of Keystone Montgomeryville, Cope and his team started another church, Keystone Fellowship – South Jersey. In 2022, they launched their seventh church, Keystone North Church, which happens to be pastored by Cope’s son, Chris Cope.
“We didn’t train our kids to be church planters, but that’s what they’ve became,” said Cope. Carefully, Cope also shared that one of his sons and his family are international missionaries in a closed-to-the-gospel country, who are funded through the International Mission Board (IMB).
“So, when you think about that $20, $50, or whatever you’re giving, it’s literally going all over the world to make a difference. And there’s a lot of places in the world that your dollar goes a lot further,” said Cope.
Through Cope’s life and ministry, it’s easy to see the benefit of fellow believers coming together and giving towards a unified goal.
“To me, the Cooperative Program is about leveraging the power of pulling together in the area of financial resources so that the Great Commission, the Kingdom of God, can move forward [and] that the Kingdom of God can be enlarged,” said Cope.
Nearly seven months ago, Cope was tapped on the shoulder by Send Network, the church planting arm of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), to become the Send Network director of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.
“They asked me if I’d consider coming on board and being over PA/South Jersey, and through the process I felt like God was calling me to do that,” said Cope. “But at the same time too, I did not feel like God was calling me to step down from my role here (Keystone Church) as the overseer.”
In this unique position of being a Send Network director and serving as the overseer of a multi-site church, Cope has a front row seat for how the CP is impacting local and national ministry efforts.
“Your money is being expanded. It’s not just staying in your local area, but it is being used in your local area. But then also you see it on a global [level], whether it’s a hurricane or whatever that’s happening, it’s even going overseas,” said Cope.
Currently, the SBC is funneling a portion of CP funds to Send Relief efforts in Israel as well as to missionaries around the globe and across the United States, who are toiling for the sake of the gospel. Locally, CP funds are benefiting BRN churches through outreach events supported by evangelism grants and select pastoral wellness opportunities.
“I can say this with all integrity that what they’re (BRN churches) giving is going to a worthwhile cause,” said Cope.
“I tell our people all the time, once you give, your hands are off. Trust the people, trust the organization. They’ve got good people on it and they will send it to where it needs to be sent, and there’s a lot of great places to invest all over PA and South Jersey.”
Hear more about how your cooperative giving is impacting Pastor John Cope and church planting efforts in PA/SJ in this month’s episode of Celebrating Cooperative Missions (this podcast is also available on Spotify, Apple, Google, and Amazon Music):