News Articles

Data: Missions education lifts stewardship

EDITOR’S NOTE: A recent review of church data from the Annual Church Profile, a survey conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources, indicates that churches with missions education programs give to missions in larger percentages than those that do not. This series of articles focuses on the value of missions education resources and how they are being adapted to meet the needs of today’s church.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Southern Baptist churches with ongoing missions education programs appear to be stronger supporters of the Cooperative Program and Southern Baptist missions offerings, according to a review of data from the 2007 Annual Church Profile, a survey conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources.

The assessment of ACP data, conducted by Woman’s Missionary Union and the North American Mission Board, examined levels of giving to the Cooperative Program, Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions from churches that have WMU age-level organizations, such as Girls in Action and Women on Mission, as compared with those that do not. WMU and NAMB further examined the giving levels among churches that reported having Baptist Men on Mission (formerly Brotherhood), Challengers and Royal Ambassador programs of the North American Mission Board and those that do not.

Regardless of church size, the entities’ findings show that per capita giving to CP and the missions offerings was greater across the board in churches that reported having ongoing missions education.

For example, when looking at a total of 40,056 congregations across the country, the average per capita giving to CP was $23.65 in churches without WMU- or NAMB-supported missions education programs as compared to $43.28 per capita giving in churches that have these programs. Among total congregations, per capita giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was $3.29 from churches without missions education as compared to $9.05 from those with missions education; per capita giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering was $1.54 per capita compared to $5.34.

“Southern Baptists have a rich missions legacy, and the foundation of that has been mission education,” said Jim Burton, NAMB’s mission education team leader. “We believe that missions learning is the foundation for missions sending, and this data supports that conviction.

“When Southern Baptist churches drift away from mission education, they directly put future missions support from their church at risk,” Burton continued. “Having no mission education, particularly in lieu of para-church options that will not reinforce our missions priorities, cuts short the shared vision of cooperative missions that has defined our denomination’s missions efforts.”

Wanda S. Lee, WMU’s executive director/treasurer, also underscored the value of missions education for everyone in the church, from preschoolers to adults. “The heart of Southern Baptist missions efforts must be founded on our members’ understanding of three basic concepts — everything I have belongs to God; I am responsible for using whatever I have to honor God; and a world is waiting to hear the Good News and I am responsible for seeing that they hear.

“When these concepts are planted firmly in believers’ lives as they are through ongoing missions education, tithing and cooperative giving follow,” Lee said.

Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board, said these insights are particularly important in light of the increasingly challenging mission field NAMB missionaries face.

“The urgent need to reach North America with the Gospel is apparent every day, and Southern Baptists who have a missions education foundation are better equipped to meet the challenges of fulfilling the Great Commission,” Hammond said. “The work of our missions education team and the Woman’s Missionary Union, along with other partners, is making a difference.”

Burton, noting that 11,500-plus Southern Baptist missionaries are serving in 140-plus countries, said, “Each is counting on Southern Baptists to help keep them on the field and in the center of God’s will for their life. Missions education undergirds that effort.”

For more information on missions education programs and resources offered by Woman’s Missionary Union, visit www.wmu.com. For more information on Royal Ambassadors, Challengers, Baptist Men on Mission and other missions-learning resources from the North American Mission Board, visit www.sbcmissioneducation.com.
Julie Walters is Woman’s Missionary Union’s communications specialist. Mike Ebert of the North American Mission Board contributed to this article.