Anytime we hear of bad news, the first question that gets asked is always, “How bad is it?” For a long time we’ve heard bad news about the economic situation in our country and specifically how that is affecting non-profits organizations, missions agencies, and churches. I hope that you are asking the question, “How bad is it?” I wanted to take the time to answer that question specifically as it pertains to our church’s participation in the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.
On a local level churches are not meeting budgets. Our church is coming up short just like many other churches. Were it not for the wise decisions made by the church concerning the debt on our property, we would be experiencing much more of a hardship than we currently are. It is bad, but not that bad. You have continued to be as faithful as possible in your giving. Because of that, Northside is weathering this storm better than some.
Take our problems and multiply them by 3500. That is the number of cooperating Southern Baptist churches in our state. Multiply those struggles by 42,000. That’s the number of cooperating Southern Baptist churches in our country. Those cooperating churches pool financial resources together through the Cooperative Program. Through the CP, our churches are able to support more than 10,000 missionaries around the world. We are able to support six highly respected seminaries and dozens of Baptist colleges and universities around the country. The CP also allows us to operate the third largest disaster relief agency in the world. That is a huge responsibility, both spiritually and financially. But it is a responsibility that we have gladly carried for the last 85 years.
The nature of the CP means that reduced giving to churches affects everyone upstream. At every level, missions are being affected. As things stand right now, missions on the state level are being cut dramatically. In our own state, the Georgia Baptist Convention has cut the budget by 8.2%. Some state conventions – such as North Carolina – have had to cut their budget to levels not seen since 9/11. It’s bad!
The greatest tragedy in all of this is that our global mission efforts will be hampered unless the tables turn quickly. The International Mission Board is facing a serious shortfall and is reducing our missionary force through natural attrition this year. If the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year is low, then the IMB may be forced to take more drastic measures in the upcoming year.
One side of this that is not getting much attention is the fact that many of our country’s current fiscal policies are devaluing the US dollar. Printing more dollars does not make us wealthier, it actually makes us poorer. In missions, this means that ever dollar given through the LMCO has less buying power in the field. Translation – not only are we receiving less dollars, the dollars we are receiving are not worth what they used to be!
What can we do? We must continue to give and give generously. Southern Baptists have the best platform in the world already in place to accomplish the Great Commission, but the platform only works if we faithfully support it. We must continue to support the Cooperative Program and we must continue to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Let me encourage you to prayerfully consider your gift to this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. What sacrifice would God have you make this Christmas to support the advance of his Kingdom around the world? Things may be bad, but God is bigger!
I hope you are supporting the LMCO!