The first record broken came in June when the generous giving of Tennessee Baptists blew past the previous all-time high given to GOTM, which had been more than $1.7 million dollars.
The second record broken was a final 2016-2017 total of nearly $1.85 million, moving the bar to an all-time high for missions giving in our state.
The third, and I think most amazing record, is that Tennessee Baptists giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions has increased more than 20 percent over the past four years. Thank you! Your financial gifts are making a profound difference in the lives of people in our state and if you want to know how, you should visit www.GoldenOffering.org and watch some of the videos that share stories of how God is using Tennessee Baptists to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of our friends and neighbors.
I believe the generous increase in state missions giving is due to Tennessee Baptists hearing loud and clear that, any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field.
The burden for the people of our state presses upon me as I crisscross Tennessee. We have more than 145 global people groups now living in Tennessee, 45 of those on the International Mission Board’s most unreached people list. So many of our people live in extreme poverty and so many of our children are undernourished or are malnourished. Thousands of our children are in foster care, many taken from their homes because parents are involved with crystal meth. On it goes. At the root of all this physical suffering is the spiritual reality that more than four million – four million – Tennesseans have no relationship with Jesus Christ.
I can’t emphasize it enough, any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field.
As Tennessee Baptists, we have a goal to reach $3 million in annual Golden Offering giving by 2024. Right now we are a little more than $1 million from reaching that goal, but we are heading in that direction. I’m going to be honest. I believe it is going to be a challenge to get there, but I believe we can do it. I believe that if God’s people catch a vision for what God can do through them, all things are possible.
The beginning of September was the launch of our 2017-2018 GOTM giving year, and September usually marks the time when most churches have their Week of Prayer for Tennessee Missions. Both prayer and giving are critical if we are going to have any kind of a spiritual impact in our state. Is there at least one neighbor you can pray for who needs to know Jesus? Begin there, then pray for the needs across our state. And pray for your state missionaries as they serve you and the spiritually lost in Tennessee.
Next, get informed about how God is moving across our state and using Tennessee Baptists in His work. Our state Baptist newspaper, the Baptist and Reflector and Baptist and Reflector online (baptistandreflector.org) constantly reports these good news stories, but there are also excellent resources available at the website I gave earlier, www.GoldenOffering.org. Good news about the Good News is always good news.
Finally, ask God what He’d have you and your church give this year through GOTM. It will take sacrificial commitment to giving, but I am confident Tennessee Baptists will rise to the challenge. Just know that 100 percent of your giving through the Golden Offering stays right here in Tennessee and is used to share God’s love with Tennesseans.
These are exciting days. God is moving and using Tennessee Baptists and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in exciting ways, and any way you slice it, it is a joy to be on this journey with you.