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Texas church first to join new global missions network

MIDLAND, Texas (BP)–First Baptist Church of Midland, Texas, is the first Southern Baptist congregation to join a new network that helps churches focus on their commission to take the good news of God’s love to the whole world.
The International Mission Board’s new “Global Priority Church” challenge equips churches with resources to become more effective in their overseas missions efforts.
The 4,200-member congregation in western Texas learned about the Global Priority Church emphasis during its recent missions fair. The event featured 14 IMB missionary families and presentations by board President Jerry Rankin and Bill Morgan, director of the agency’s Creative Access Networks program.
“This church has a long history of missions support and involvement,” said Dale Pond, minister of missions for the Midland congregation. “As Bill Morgan described this new network for churches that want to reach the whole world for Christ, we said, ‘These are things we’re already involved in.'”
Midland First Baptist is one of six Southern Baptist congregations that gives more than $500,000 a year to the Cooperative Program, the convention’s unified budget. About 30 percent of the church budget — roughly $1.3 million — goes to missions efforts.
The church works to keep a balanced view of their missions responsibility at every level, Pond said.
“Instead of a scatter-gun approach that supports things here and there, we have tried to direct our missions focus into three areas: local and regional, North American, and international,” he said. “We try to do a missions trip each year to each of those different areas. Our students will go on a trip at each level during high school years.
“There are people serving literally all over the world who have said these trips helped them understand their call to missions and how important missions is in the kingdom work.”
In addition to sponsoring several mission congregations in Midland, the church’s mission activities also include a local crisis pregnancy center, more than 20 mission congregations in areas of the United States where Southern Baptist work is new, more than 20 mission congregations in rural and urban areas of nearby Mexico, and special projects overseas in Romania, Peru, Belize, Estonia, Brazil and other countries.
“Our people have a heartbeat for missions and want to be involved as much as they can,” Pond said. “To me, the Global Priority Church emphasis helps churches understand what they need to be doing internationally and shows them what they can do for global missions.”
By helping churches link up with unreached people groups and missionaries, the Global Priority Church challenge helps congregations partner with the International Mission Board in reaching 1.7 billion people with little or no access to the gospel, Bill Morgan said.
“We want to identify churches with a passion for missions that begins where they are and goes to the ends of the earth,” Morgan said. “We want to serve and assist those churches, and we want to encourage others to join them and become churches with a global priority.”
A brochure produced by Morgan’s office defines a Global Priority Church as one that:
— prioritizes missions as a major thrust and provides staff leadership;
— prays for missionaries and the unreached world;
— provides missions education, information, events and displays;
— promotes growing missions giving;
— produces the missionaries for now and tomorrow;
— participates in short-term missions projects;
— partners in missions efforts by adopting unreached peoples; and
— personalizes missions by adopting IMB personnel.
Congregations accepting the Global Priority Church challenge will receive a personalized plaque of recognition, will be included in a specialized communications network and will gain access to regional meetings briefing them on missions information and opportunities, Morgan said.
“We want to raise a challenge to thousands of churches,” he said. “Some of them already are very serious about global missions; we want to partner with them to maximize missions involvement. Others have a heart for it but haven’t found a handle on it yet; we want to help them do that.
“We’ve tried to design this so churches of any size can be involved. Every church, regardless of size, can take on the challenges on the list,” he said. “Our ultimate aim is to see the largest possible number of churches that have God’s heart for the whole world.”

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  • Mark Kelly