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A call to trust and to action:

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Recently, I came across this open letter to Southern Baptist and our Missionaries from Chuck Lawless,

Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

But please note,

   as the mom of a missionary, I am obviously concerned about how the current financial atmosphere within the IMB will be affecting ‘my missionary’. I know that the wise counsel of seasoned missionaries who worked with my son when he first arrived on the field were often a God-send (not just to them but to this praying mother). How it’s going to affect the work in the fields in the absence of those who elect to take early retirement only God knows. But I know that I know, that God has good plans for those missionaries still on the field and those who are retiring. Romans 8:28 & Jeremiah 29:11

From Chuck’s post:

   To my Southern Baptist friends on this side of the oceans: We’re a denomination with a renewed passion for church planting and church revitalization. I see more excitement among young leaders than I’ve ever seen. At the same time, our numbers don’t yet reflect a renewed commitment to evangelism. Many of our churches are, in fact, inwardly focused. We talk the Great Commission more than we do the Great Commission. That’s where our retiring missionaries can help us, for they’ve lived with a laser beam focus on reaching the lost and planting churches. We need them in our congregations. We need them in our leadership. We need them as our pastors and staff members. We need them telling the global story in our worship centers, our classes, and our homes.

   I’m grateful Southern Baptists have rallied to offer these retirees housing, automobiles, employment, etc., in conjunction with the IMB’s transition team. We must continue to take these steps over the next several months as retirees return. On the other hand, if we meet all these needs without capturing a missionary’s brokenness over lostness, we will not have adequately honored our retiring brothers and sisters. More importantly, we will not be adequately following Jesus.

  I’m praying that God will, in the mystery of His ways we don’t always understand, recharge our people – beginning with me – in these days of transition. I’m praying that we’ll reach the nations among us and around the world.

Please click on the following link for Chuck’s post in its entirety:
http://chucklawless.com/2015/10/an-open-letter-to-southern-baptists-and-our-missionaries/

Reaching the world for Christ! (It’s Doable!)

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Recently, my son and I had a conversation about the struggle the IMB is having from a financial standpoint of reaching the lost for Christ.  After that conversation I did a little research and I’d like to share here what I discovered about the state of giving to missions of our Southern Baptist Churches!  The first bit of research was gleaned from the following website: http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?id=293

FINDINGS

The International Mission Board has made news repeatedly this year because of its decision to delay the deployment of new missionaries who are ready to be sent to strategic mission assignments.  Approximately 100 candidates have been deferred to next year or put on hold.  The number of new short-term personnel also will be reduced by 30% this year.  To divert more funds to the field, 61 full-time and part-time positions were eliminated.  Of those positions that were eliminated, 37 home office staff members lost their jobs. Perhaps the most significant action to reduce products and services will be suspending publication of the IMB’s flagship magazine, theCOMMISSION. 

STARTLING FACTS RE GIVING TO MISSIONS

Perhaps the most telling statistic for the near future of mission funding for Southern Baptists is the rapid decline in percentage giving through the Cooperative Program.

From an average of 10.5% in the 80s, the percentage has plummeted to 7.39% in 2002. As a percentage of undesignated offerings, local churches have decreased their Cooperative Program giving by 30%

ANALYSIS

Increased local church expenditures due to rising health insurance costs, expansion of facilities, and increasing sizes of church staffs have squeezed out gifts to missions.

* * * *

Now, keep in mind that less money translates into less people who will be able to hear about Christ.  Personally, I believe that God has blessed America and especially America’s churches as He has financially, so that we can fund the effort of missions.  (You know, reaching a lost world for Christ!)  But somewhere along the way, as churches and Christian individuals, we have forgotten this and have consumed a greater proportion of these blessings upon ourselves than we should.  So when you pray and ask God to help you be a responsible steward of the blessings He has given you, consider these facts:

Facts about lostness

  • 6,744 people groups are considered unreached (less than 2 percent profess a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; as reported April 2011)
  • 3,789 people groups are not engaged at all with the Gospel (as reported April 2011)
  • More than half the world’s people live in cities. Most unreached people groups likely are represented in the world’s urban centers.
  • 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22 percent of the world’s population

“Facts about lostness” statistics taken from:

http://www.imb.org/main/give/page.asp?StoryID=5412&LanguageID=1709

 * * * * *

HERE’S AN IDEA!

An online article that I read suggested that if every church would increase their gifts to the Cooperative Program by 1%, over 100 million dollars would be generated.  Go to this website to read more about this idea:

(http://www.sbclife.org/Articles/2011/10/SLA9.asp)

* * * *

 That’s just one idea, folks.  Can you imagine (whew! my head is spinning) if all 45,000 churches began seriously praying for God to show them ways they could give more to missions so that more people would hear about Christ, then I think we might experience something akin to the miracle of giving found in Ex. 36:4-7, “

 4-5 All the artisans who were at work making everything involved in constructing the Sanctuary came, one after another, to Moses, saying, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing this work that God has commanded us to do!”  6-7 So Moses sent out orders through the camp: “Men! Women! No more offerings for the building of the Sanctuary!”

   The people were ordered to stop bringing offerings! There was plenty of material for all the work to be done. Enough and more than enough. (MSG)

! let me wrap up this post by sharing a quote from the website from Facts about Lostness. And as you read it, focus on this:  “the task is doable”

There is much work to be done. With more than 45,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, the task is doable, but it will take all of us – starting with our own church!  and I might add–starting with ourselves!

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