We recently received good news from both the North American Mission Board regarding Annie Armstrong and the International Mission Board regarding Lottie Moon. Both offerings were up. The amount collected for the AAEO was the largest in the offering’s history. The amount collected for the LMCO did not quite meet the goal, but it was the second largest amount ever collected. These are encouraging results.
I have led both churches I have pastored to give generously to both of these offerings. My first church always gave tremendous amounts to Lottie Moon. We would light a candle and place it on the front table for every $500 collected. By the end of December, it got a bit dangerous. Though the church is small in number, their generosity to Lottie Moon is to be commended. Their generous giving started long before I got there, and I trust it has continued since.
My current church has given larger amounts in the past, but the years immediately preceding my pastorate were marked by small offerings for LMCO and AAEO. By god’s grace, we have seen those numbers increase significantly. I am hopeful that our missions offerings will continue to grow.
So here are just a few brief suggestions as to how we can lead our churches to give more generously to our missions offerings:
1) Preach and teach on God’s heart for the nations.
First and foremost, our people need a clear vision of God’s heart for the nations. Our God is a missionary God. He is calling a people for Himself from every tribe, tongue, and nation. And He has given us the great privilege of being a part of His kingdom building work. One of the ways we participate in building the kingdom is by giving. When our people truly grasp this reality, our offerings will go up.
2) Set a goal.
Determine a number that is attainable but will also challenge your people. Last year I gave our people a choice. We had collected just over $7,000 for LMCO the year before. So I asked them if they wanted to set our 2017 goal at $8,000 or $10,000. They chose $8,000. I was a little bit disappointed. But when the offerings came in, we collected over $10,000 for Lottie Moon. Use the goal as a tool for challenging and encouraging your people to give.
3) Invite a missionary to speak.
This is easier for me in Virginia than it is for others because of proximity to IMB headquarters. But if you will contact NAMB or IMB, they will be happy to connect you with a church planter or missionary who would love to come and share with your church. This will cost you a little bit of money. You’ll need to provide travel expenses. You should also give them an honorarium to show your appreciation for them coming. But whatever expense you may incur in doing this will be totally worth it as your people get to see up close the people that their missions dollars are going to support.
4) Make use of the provided promotional materials.
This is easy. The videos provided by our missions agencies are excellent. If you aren’t already using them as you promote these offerings, you should start now. If you are not receiving the videos for some reason, they are available at namb.net and imb.org. You can also receive a hard copy by contacting the entity.
5) Pray for the offering.
Pray for the offering from the pulpit on Sunday when it begins. Pray for the offering and our missionaries during your weekly prayer gathering. Encourage your people to pray during their personal time with the Lord. One of the ways you can do this is by including the printed prayer guides in your Sunday bulletin. And once the offering has been collected, celebrate the amount received and pray from the pulpit during your Sunday morning service that God would use it for the advancement of His kingdom.
6) Give generously yourself.
You cannot ask your people to do something that you are not willing to do. Lead by example. I have always felt that the most sure-fire way for me to increase the offerings of my church is to give more myself. I believe the Lord blesses generous sacrificial giving.
These are some of the things I have done and continue to do to promote our missions offerings. I am interested in hearing from you. What things have you tried that you would add to the list? Let’s hear some of your most creative ideas.