Eight Steps Leading to a Giving Pattern to Match Great Commission Passion
Step 1: Get Honest. “Reported baptisms have declined six of the last eight years with 2012 the lowest since 1948.” That is the bottom line of this year’s Annual Church Profile compiled by LifeWay. If that one line does not awaken every Southern Baptist Church to the reality of our ineffectiveness—no, make that sinful apathy—nothing will. We have watched Cooperative Program giving decline from 10.52% in 1987 to 5.41% in 2011. We must be willing to take a brutally honest look at how many lost people are being won, baptized and set on the road to becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ as a result of the work of our church. And with that, we must take a hard look at how our mission’s giving is doing with Cooperative Program being the baseline. Real worship, evangelism, stewardship, and discipleship all go hand in hand at the local church level.
Step 2: Pray. We must seek the Lord with all of our hearts…He is our only hope. The amazing blessing of seeing a great harvest follows a season of agonizing brokenness of the believer’s heart. We must come to a fresh recognition of the Lordship of Christ over our lives and possessions. Pray for the Father to give your church a bold new vision for the days ahead.
Step 3: Teach and preach Biblical stewardship. Nearly one-third of the parables Christ shared related directly to our possessions. If He thought it important to teach on Biblical stewardship, shouldn’t we? Recently a young pastor told me rather pridefully that he never preaches about money. My response was, “You seem like a man that preaches the Gospel, and if you preach and teach the entire Bible you will preach about our possessions. Biblically, expositorally, practically, and systematically teach your people grace giving and storehouse tithing. People always respond to His Word.”
Step 4: Set a small goal. Our Tennessee Baptist Convention voted to increase our Cooperative Program giving to a 50/50 distribution over the next five years. In order for us to do so in a manner that will help our TBC ministry partners rather than harm them, our network of churches will need to grow our average Cooperative Program giving by 2% over the next five years. That is less than one-half percent each year. What a great place to start. What a significant target to increase your Cooperative Program giving by 2% over the next five years.
Step 5: Now, set a God-sized goal. If we were to increase our Cooperative Program giving to 10%, our IMB mission force could be nearly doubled. Church planting across America would have resources, our ability to reach North America would be enhanced, and our educational, benevolent, and mission ministries within our own state would be made stronger. In moving toward 10%, a 26 year slide would be reversed, and Tennessee could lead the way in this national change. But it will begin one church at a time. If your church is presently giving above 10%, resist the temptation to slash your giving. This is no time for us to backing up.
Step 6: Be intentional about mission education and equipping of your people. It may mean taking 30 seconds every couple of Sundays just before you receive an offering to highlight one thing that your Cooperative Program dollar is accomplishing toward fulfilling the Great Commission. Make certain that your children, youth, and new members are informed and educated about what it means to give beyond ourselves to the cause of Christ.
Step 7: Develop an Acts 1:8 holistic mission strategy that is constantly communicated to your people with passion. The church must reach people in our neighborhoods and the nations; we must reach people across the street as well as across the oceans. The Great Commission is not an either/or proposition. It is a both/and proposition.
Step 8: Celebrate each victorious step in the right direction. Remember what it was like when your child took their first step? You applauded and with great excitement let it be known that was a good thing. Never take the missions giving of your people for granted.
We can do better, and by the grace of God we will do better working together for the cause of Christ.
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.