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Southern Baptist churches of all sizes show Lottie Moon Offering is worthy investment

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Do you wonder if your church of fewer than 50 members can impact the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering? Just ask members of Belleville Baptist Church in Mexia, Ala.

This rural church of 38 active members gave a total of $16,128 to last year’s offering –- an average of $424.42 per member. The small congregation, comprised mostly of retirees, recently experienced the sudden death of their pastor, Rusty Robertson, who had helped lead the church in giving and praying regularly for missionaries around the globe.

“We’re not great in number, but our numbers are great,” Robertson had said. He succumbed to cancer in August at age 81.

Belleville is one of many Southern Baptist churches that the International Mission Board has recognized this year for per capita giving in the 2004 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Despite their size, many small churches deliver strong support for overseas missions.

“We are encouraged by the churches that reflect a priority commitment to missions by generously giving in impressive amounts,” said Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board. “It is especially gratifying to see the model of sacrifice exhibited by those who lead in per capita giving.”

Last year, Southern Baptists showed their support by giving the second-largest total in the offering’s history with more than $133 million. That amount fell just short of the previous year’s $136 million total and short of the $150 million goal. With this year’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal of $150 million, churches of all sizes will be needed to support more than 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries already on the field -– and to send others around the globe.

Small congregations play a bigger role than people think, said Billy Hoffman, director of development for the International Mission Board.

“To the surprise of many, we are a denomination of small congregations,” he said. “The sacrificial giving of these churches will always make the difference in whether the national goal is met. When the goal is met, more unreached people groups hear the Gospel sooner.”

Hoffman underscored the need for more Southern Baptist churches to respond to this year’s Lottie Moon offering. Last year, more than 10,000 churches did not participate.

“Many of those who give to the [Lottie Moon Christmas Offering] give generously and even sacrificially,” Hoffman said. “However, the sad truth is many Southern Baptists give nothing to [this offering].”

Hoffman hopes more will see the benefit in giving to overseas missions.

“Last year we saw 600,000 baptisms overseas,” he said. “Can you think of a better investment?”

The following includes the top five churches in per capita and top dollar contributions. The list is based on offering results during a 14-month period -– from January 2004 to February 2005. This year’s results will cover March 2005 to February 2006.

Top Per Capita Giving

Prairie Dell Baptist Church in Holland, Texas, topped per capita giving with $15,000. With only seven active members, that amount averages out to be $2,142.86 per member.

Clifton Baptist Church in Clifton, Va., recorded 15 members collecting $24,966.87. Their per capita amount averages out to $1,664.46 per member. Other top five churches were Tidwell Baptist Church of Greenville, Texas, $12,884, with nine active members; Garden Acres Baptist Church in Burleson, Texas, $55,071, with 50 active members; and Sunrise Baptist Church in Kerrville, Texas, $28,339, with 37 active members.

Top-Dollar Contributions

First Baptist Church of Dallas topped the list by giving $1,462,909.82. The four other churches that made the top five were First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., with $690,325; Concord First Baptist Church, Knoxville, Tenn., with $598,758.35; Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., with $540,000; and Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, with $450,000.

See the list of Top 100 churches that gave to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering in 2004 in total gifts and per capita gifts.
For more information about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, or to register your church’s goal for the 2005 offering and to see what other churches plan to give, go online at http://ime.imb.org or go to http://ime.imb.org/goal.

    About the Author

  • Shawn Hendricks