Posterity will probably remember 2020 as the “Year of COVID-19.” The negative global impact of the coronavirus pandemic has certainly left its mark on Tennessee, the United States and the rest of the world.
However, I will remember 2020 as the year Tennessee Baptists set a record for generously giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions. We broke the previous giving record last week, and as of this writing, total giving for this year was $1,922,235 with five days remaining in the GOTM year (Sept.-Aug). Everything added to the total in these last few days only extends that historical threshold.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you, Tennessee Baptists, for your faithfulness and sacrificial giving.
Let’s be honest, this hasn’t been an easy year for most of us, especially those who have dealt personally with coronavirus or have had loved ones who were either debilitated or died as a result of the illness. Additionally, many Tennesseans have also felt the gut-punch of economic hardship as a result of diminished work hours, furloughs or job loss. So for me, what makes this record giving to Tennessee missions even more remarkable is that you did it in the face of intense adversity. Again, I say thank you and to God be the glory for what He has done – and is doing – through Tennessee Baptists.
But what does it mean that you contributed $1.92 million-plus? As with your Cooperative Program giving, my desire is for you to clearly understand where your money is going and how you are having an eternal impact because you sacrificially gave. Because of your giving, your Tennessee Baptist Mission Board missionaries have helped hundreds of churches navigate a revitalization process and are now again seeing people saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship.
You’ve supported the birth of dozens of new church plants. You’ve ministered to the poor in tangible ways, including providing food through compassion ministries which has also opened gospel-proclaiming doors. You’ve helped develop the next generation of leaders through youth opportunities, and the list goes on through so many other church and associational-based mission and ministry enterprises financially supported by GOTM.
You see Tennessee — meaning, you really see it. You see the brokenness, the addiction, the great spiritual and physical need. It’s all around you and you understand the heart of what we mean when we say, “Any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field.” Fortunately, every dollar you give stays in Tennessee and your Tennessee Baptist Mission Board staff takes serious care to make sure those resources are directed in the most strategic ways possible.
But while we celebrate this great bounty God has provided, we are also geared up to begin a new GOTM year beginning September 1. For months, we’ve been refining strategies and establishing priorities. We’ve asked ourselves serious questions like, “How do we serve churches at an even deeper level?” and “How do we apply the resources we’ve been given by Tennessee Baptists to see the greatest number of people in our state come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and grow as disciples?”
Rest assured, GOTM funding will again strengthen and plant churches, fuel compassion ministries and equip ministry leaders. You stood for life as Tennessee Baptists last year when we pressed hard for our state legislature to stand with us in protecting unborn Tennesseans. Well, your legacy for life will continue through your GOTM giving as we begin equipping crisis pregnancy centers across Tennessee with sonogram machines. I’m excited about the year ahead and what Tennessee Baptists will accomplish because of your generosity.
However, while we celebrate the present and are excited about 2021, let’s not lose site of the greater vision. In 2014, messengers to the Tennessee Baptist Convention affirmed the objective to see Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions giving more than double from where it was to at least $3 million in receipts by 2024. I believe we can get there.
Just in these six years we’ve seen exponential growth. I’m convinced that if each church and its members took up the challenge to reach Tennessee and increased their giving even a few percentage points each year, then we will see that objective met and exceeded.
There is no greater financial investment you can make than a Kingdom investment, and an investment through GOTM is an investment in reaching Tennessee for Christ. Will you join us in 2021 for the next leg of this adventure?
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.