Kevin has started writing a bit in our monthly newsletter so I thought I would include it on our blog also.
Hope you enjoy!
A word about Giving:
Plain and simple, it takes money to further the cause of missions. Sometimes we thing it is unspiritual to talk about money, but money is what provides a salary which feeds our children, clothes them and helps them live in another culture far away from home. Money is what it takes to have health care, a house to live in, a vehicle to drive, materials for witnessing, and countless other necessities for doing ministry. When it comes to these necessities, Southern Baptists provide for their missionaries through two avenues; the Cooperative program and the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.
In churches people hear about those things, but I am not sure they understand them. They know their church gives to the CP, but they don’t realize that a percentage of that comes to the IMB, which provides for us. They don’t realize that the more they give to the CP, the more the IMB can do in the world. Even many don’t understand about the LMCO. This yearly offering provides about half of the support for the IMB, so in other words the Rodgers tribe depends on Southern Baptists to be faithful to give to this offering because it provides for about half of what we need. Yet, we are seeing giving to the CP in our SBC churches at an all time low. The LMCO remains about the same, but giving (overall) continues to decrease. So why am I writing all of this? Is it to complain about the lack of giving in our churches or the difficulties we are facing overseas? Not at all, I am instead writing to say two things…
1) Thank you for giving. Every time you give to your church, and every time you give to the LMCO you are giving to us. We are here to reach the lost in Africa for Jesus and you make it possible for us to do that. Even though giving overall is down, and the IMB is continually having to make cuts, we are thankful for the support we do receive and realize it is the Lord working through you. As the time for giving to Lottie Moon draws nigh, I would ask that you continue to be faithful and that you continue to give… and even challenge yourself and your church to give more than ever before. Without your giving to the CP and the LMCO we could not do our jobs, which means the gospel advance would be hindered and the Kingdom would suffer. Some people don’t realize this. I heard about a guy who said to an IMB missionary, “Well we do take up an offering for missions but we stopped giving it to the IMB and instead are giving it to these other groups that raise their own support. You see we know you get a salary, but they don’t so we feel sorry for them.” That is a true story… yet, the problem is this guy didn’t know that the very place we get our support was from that very offering that they had chosen to give to others. I don’t know if he thought we had some other channel of support or not, but without the cooperative program and the Lottie Moon offering, there is no plan B for those in the IMB. This leads me to the second thing I want to say,
2) The money is out there! A lot of people don’t realize this, but the problem is not the economic downturn or the failure of people to give. The problem is that people no longer give to us… Last year Southern Baptist churches took in a total of 12 billion dollars. They gave 1.3 billion of those dollars to missions at home and abroad. This is great, because it looks like we are giving over 10% to missions. However, the sad truth is that of that 1.3 billion dollars, only $250 million came to the IMB. Of course, not all that 1.3 billion should come to us because there is the SBC North American Mission Board and state and local missions endeavors in the towns where those churches live. But the real truth is that a lot of that money went to other non SBC organizations and individuals around the world. Meanwhile we fell about 50 million short of our budget last year, and we have had shortfalls for that last several years in a row.
What do we do when we don’t meet our budget? Well sometimes we sell property to make up the difference, which is a little like burning the furniture to keep the house warm. Sometimes we cut back on ministry… sometimes we send less people into the harvest fields. My point is not that churches and individuals aren’t giving, but for some reason they are not giving to us… they instead are giving to those who are constantly in the church asking for their support. I am not faulting them for asking, but since we are on the field, doing the job we are out of sight and often out of mind. What is the answer to all of this? I believe it is connection, which is part of why I am writing this. We are like that car you have that you love, depend on and trust… until a wheel starts squeaking and then you take it to the mechanic. Until then, you don’t even think about it, you just hop in and go. Well we at the IMB have been shy about squeaking because we are so grateful for all the years of faithful support. I think it is high time we started squeaking J I think we need to educate the folks who pray for us, love us, and trust us. We need to let them know what is happening in the world and what is happening in their church and how that affects us. We need to connect with you and let you see how you are an integral part of all we do and it is more than just giving… it is a partnership and we are proud to be your partners.