BALTIMORE (BP) — Whether we like it or not, we are all going to leave behind a legacy, IMB President Tom Elliff said during a June 10 luncheon focused on “The Last Full Measure of Devotion: Your Mission & Ministry Legacy,” during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Baltimore.
“One of these days, when you pass off of this earth, you will be remembered for something,” Elliff said at the event sponsored by the Southern Baptist Foundation. “I hope it’s that you were a living illustration of God’s faithfulness and that you took Him at His word.”
Dave Clippard, IMB associate vice president of development, introduced the luncheon’s speaker, Gregg Matte, senior pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church.
“[Recently Matte] challenged the church to step up in their commitment to reach the world in missions giving,” Clippard said. “They were praying for $15 million. The church gave $30 million, and it’s still coming. … Those are the kind of things that you can’t explain by just human effort. God has spoken to [this church family].”
In a Bible study from the Book of Acts at the Houston church, Matte and the congregation gained a vision for giving money away, an endeavor based on Acts 1:8 that they called “Mission 1:8.” Their goal is to give missionally to reach their city, the nation and the world, and to not forget the poor, the widow, the orphan and the prisoner.
Matte advised pastors seeking to increase giving to find their voice and find their vision, to realize the effort is about discipleship, and to make sure their hearts are in the right place.
The church used the “ladder model” from the book “Maximize” by Nelson Searcy, asking members to consider where they were in the giving ladder, and then to take a “step up.”
Through this emphasis, 709 families became first-time givers to their church; 449 became intentional givers, 541 became tithers and 686 went to extravagant giving.
“Let God begin with you,” Matte told pastors. “And when He begins with you, you will find you can’t out-give God … But the more we give, the more God gives us.”
Another tool the church used was legacy giving through a person’s last will and testimony.
“‘Testimony’ — it’s what ‘testament’ means … declaring this is what your life stood for,” Matte emphasized. Through PhilanthroCorp, a planned giving services organization, about 51 Houston First members are working through the process of creating a will.
Clippard shared research sponsored by the Southern Baptist Foundation of Nashville, Tenn., showing 82 percent of Southern Baptist pastors have never once spoken to their church about wills and end-of-life decisions, and secular research showing 72 percent of North Americans do not have a will in place.
“When we die … everything that you own is going to go to one of three entities. It’s going to go to your family, to missions (and) ministry or to the government,” Clippard said. “What we want to do is … disinherit the government,” which allows for providing more for family and God’s Kingdom.
Clippard said the first step is to help pastors obtain a will, and then for pastors to lead their congregations to do the same thing.
Intentionally planning your legacy is not about money, Clippard emphasized, but about meeting the needs of your family and “making a statement to take the Gospel to the rest of the world.”
Clippard thanked Southern Baptist Foundation President Warren Peek for the foundation’s sponsorship of the luncheon, held without the use of Lottie Moon Christmas Offering or Cooperative Program dollars.
For assistance and information about leaving a legacy in missions and ministry through giving, visit the International Mission Board’s Development Office website at imbgiving.org  or call (804) 219-1405. Other IMB partners who can help with legacy giving are the Southern Baptist Foundation; individual State Baptist Foundations; and PhilanthroCorp.
Laura Fielding is an IMB writer. Baptist Press reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress ), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp ).