While there are many worthy causes, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is clearly and always the best choice for missions giving among Southern Baptists. The offering, last year’s came to $158.9 million, all directed to overseas needs. The LMCO provides over half of our International Mission Board’s funding. Thank God that almost all Southern Baptist Churches continue to have a missions emphasis around Christmas and ask their members to give generously, sacrificially to the LMCO.
IMB has been taking the Gospel to the nations for 173 years. Their work may be affected by current leadership but it is not dependent on it. We have our fourth CEO in seven years. The work has gone on in spite of leadership transitions.
Southern Baptist churches have notably decreased what they devote to our primary cooperative channel, the Cooperative Program. The average church gives 4.86% of their undesignated offerings to the CP these days, a decline of over 50% from earlier years. About 30% of this ends up in Richmond at our IMB and provides less than one third of IMB’s budget. While we justifiably decry the reduction of our missionary force from over 5,000 personnel to around 3,700, we are grateful that the LMCO provides a strong base of financial support for the latter number.
Thank God, Southern Baptists are giving record and near record dollars to LMCO. They believe in what is being done. We see and feel the need to reach beyond our borders with the Gospel. We could certainly do a lot more and a lot better. A $200 million LMCO is easily within reach (this year’s goal is $160 million). Why not set a high personal and church goal? Not too many years ago there were offerings that were tens of millions over the previous year’s offering. I love surprises. Your overseas IMB personnel would love such a surprise result.
Thank God, our IMB is stable, secure, and employs a long term global strategy. The foundation of this strategy is full time, permanent, resident personnel who speak the language of the group with whom they work. These are individuals, couples, and families who live overseas and serve and work there. Because of our giving they need not spend months each year returning to the states to shore up their financial support. The LMCO and CP provide for their needs.
And let’s be brutally honest, the ad hoc, short term missionary may relieve some needs but can never substitute for a long term, resident commitment. There is a reason you will not see a lot of social media, selfies, and other frequent touting of our personnel. Most of these serve in places where by necessity and security they do not wish to attract attention.
Some churches lament the old days of popular World Missions Conferences and when churches routinely hosted missionaries as speakers. Often, commenters here complain about not knowing any IMB missionary. Any pastor can still find a speaker, as was explained by Ethan Moore earlier this year: Requesting and Utilizing an IMB Missionary at Your Church , if they make an effort. Splendid resources are free and instantly downloadable here.
Oh, your church doesn’t know who Lottie Moon is, you say?
Whose fault is that, pastor?
Who can easily correct that deficiency, pastor?
Ummm, the answer is in your hands.
Regardless, do your best. Give your best offering to the LMCO where all of it will be used to reach the nations. Do it now by giving to your church’s LM offerings. Do it monthly or weekly if your church provides a channel for that. Do it now by giving online.