Come on, let's make a difference!
by Jeff Manning
Find out more about the work of Free Will Baptist International Missions at www.fwbgo.com.
On February 1, 2006, a mother and two of her three children were killed in a horrible auto accident. It was the worst day of my pastoral life. The surviving husband/dad did not have the resources to cover the $21,000 funeral bill, so our church received a special offering a few weeks later. Over $14,400 came in on one Sunday! What a wonderful difference we were able to make.
You may wonder, “Did that offering affect your budget giving for the year?” It sure did. Our overall giving in 2006 was the best in our church’s history. Promoting generosity (whether benevolent, missions, etc.) will almost always enhance your church’s bottom line, not subtract from it. With that in mind, let me encourage you to get involved in the World Missions Offering (WMO) for 2007.
Stop Being Selfish
Is it possible that special offerings and generous giving to outside causes will have an adverse affect on a church’s overall budget? Well, I guess it is possible, but more than likely the very opposite will happen. We have received an annual WMO for years now and have only seen our overall budget increase year after year.
Speaking of generosity, God’s kingdom will not be built on spare change alone! Kids using change to fill a coin bank is a wonderful idea, but some of us need to fill a coin bank with big bills or a hefty check.
Stop Making Excuses
Is International Missions perfect? Obviously not.
Are our missionaries flawless? No.
Would you and I do a few things differently? Probably.
But these same questions could be raised about every one of our churches. What if several key families in my church only gave to our regular budget needs when they agreed with everything I preached and lived? That would hurt, would it not?
Stop Being Hypocritical
I’m amazed that, of the 2,425 churches belonging to the National Association of Free Will Baptists, only 1,195 gave to FWB International Missions in 2005. That means 1,230 churches gave absolutely nothing. Over half!
I’m equally astonished that, of the 1,195 who did give, only 171 churches contributed to the World Missions Offering. Only 7% of all our churches gave to the WMO. Seven percent. These statistics should make us weep. Professing believers and self-proclaimed Bible-believing churches not heavily involved in reaching the world for Christ are hypocritical and blatantly disobedient. Evangelism is at the very heart of the gospel. How can we justify not supporting it with our finances?
Stop Missing Opportunities
Many of our people are already giving sizeable portions of their earnings…to university athletic programs, to civic organizations, or to parachurch ministries. Now, I am not suggesting giving to these causes is necessarily wrong. My point is that they ask. Pastor, why not ask your people to give? Our people invest in real estate, stocks, bonds, 401k retirement plans, etc. Why not give them an opportunity to invest in evangelism and eternity?
Go Ahead and Follow the Lord’s Leading
Because of God’s love for the world “He gave” (John 3:16). Jesus Christ gave His life’s blood to make atonement for our sins, “and not for ours only, for also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Why not follow the Lord’s leading and let your love for the lost and dying be expressed through giving to the WMO?
Go Ahead and Energize Your People
Pastors, let’s face it—much of this falls on our shoulders. We must set an example. We must step out and lead our people in giving, just as we provide leadership in so many other areas. Paul often exhorted others to follow him (1 Cor. 4:16; Phil. 3:17).
What is wrong with telling your people you intend to give to the WMO and want them to do the same? Provide pastoral excitement and encouragement, but do not try to persuade your people to give generously if you are not willing to do likewise.
In preparation for the building of the temple, David provided exemplary leadership and energized God’s people to give with incredible generosity. Read 1 Chronicles 29:1-9 and you will find David actually told the people exactly what he intended to give. His leadership in giving served as gasoline on a holy fire that quickly spread throughout the nation.
Pastors, if you are going to have a successful WMO, you have to promote it. Talk about it from the pulpit at least three weeks before receiving the offering. Print announcements in your bulletins and newsletters. Show IMpulse videos and let your congregation know giving to the WMO helps make these video updates possible. They truly are done with excellence, and we have shown more than a few of these clips to our church. Show the WMO promotional DVD and distribute the coin banks to everyone who will take them. Have a missions emphasis day and bring in a missionary or a member of the International Missions staff to speak and preach to your people. We employed all these tactics last year and had our best World Missions Offering ever. It can happen in your church, too.
Go Ahead and Take the Plunge
Participate in the 2007 WMO. Doing so could raise the overall spiritual temperature of your church. Remember what Jesus said about treasures? “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). If our people give generously to world evangelism and thereby have their hearts focused on reaching the lost, would that not be a good thing? The answer is obvious.
Randy Alcorn, on page 78 of his short but excellent book, The Treasure Principle, writes these words:
At the end of the movie Schindler’s List, there’s a heart-wrenching scene in which Oskar Schindler—who bought from the Nazis the lives of many Jews—looks at his car and his gold pin and regrets that he didn’t give more of his money and possessions to save more lives. Schindler had used his opportunity far better than most. But in the end, he longed for a chance to go back and make better choices.
Unbelievers have no second chance to relive their lives, this time choosing Christ. But Christians also get no second chances to live life over, this time doing more to help the needy and invest in God’s kingdom. We have one brief opportunity—a lifetime on earth—to use our resources to make a difference.
About the Writer: In addition to his pastoral duties at Unity FWB Church in Greenville, NC, Jeff Manning is adjunct professor (expository preaching) at Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, TN, writes adult curriculum for Randall House Publications, and serves on the board of Free Will Baptist International Missions.