A recent letter from IMB president Tom Elliff announced the close of the 2012-2013 Lottie Moon Offering period. Some totals:
A total of $149,276,303.72 in Lottie Moon Christmas Offering receipts.
A $2.44m increase over last year, making this the third largest LMCO offering.
A 1.67% increase in giving since last year.
The comment of the day came later. He said, “In an unsettled financial year, and with joblessness still a major factor impacting our economy, the offering this year is a testimony that missions is still in the SBC DNA.”
I’d like to offer a few thoughts from a boots-on-the-ground perspective…
1. Thank you so much. While we should all be willing to give to the cause of international missions, there’s an added personal dimension for me. When you give to the IMB, it seems to me you are validating my call, my work, and my goals. Of course, you don’t know me from a feed trough (and there are some similarities), but even so it feels as though you are saying, “Here, Jeremy – do your best. We’ve got your back.”
2. I think Dr. Elliff is right: in light of the difficult economic conditions and joblessness and agencies competing for the same dollars, the fact that SBC churches continue to donate is an affirmation that Southern Baptists still feel called to give. Whatever else has changed in the SBC, a giving attitude has not.
3. As a rule, IMB missionaries are well-aware of the sacrifices SBC church members make in order to support international missions. After all, before we were missionaries, each one of us was an SBC church member giving to the LMCO. We’ve been on that end of things. As well, some of us periodically pay for ministry expenses out of pocket. My point: we’ll do our absolute best to manage the money you’ve given to the best of our abilities. The IMB has internal checks and external audits and approval processes and priorities that help ensure that your donations are honestly and wisely used.
4. If God has called you, don’t let your commitment to missions end at giving. Going and praying are also needed. I have become more and more convinced in the last few years of the need for greater, more consistent, more fervent prayer from men and women of God. Please – give all that you can, not just money. Isn’t that an aspect of sacrifice?
5. Consider some creative ways to give. Perhaps the church could establish a LMCO account on the books now and accept small donations throughout the year. Giving $5 a month hurts a little less at times than giving $60 during Christmas. If your church does fund-raising, consider setting aside a small percentage of all efforts for the LMCO. See if you can find a local IMB worker in November to come by the church and visit with Sunday School classes. And if you don’t know how to do that, let me know.
Thanks, folks. You’ve done a great job here. You’re the best.