In wake of missionaries leaving field, churches double, triple former LMCO goals

Originally published at Western Recorder –

Louisville—Inspired by a need to do more for international missions because of the recent restructuring of the International Mission Board, some Kentucky Baptist churches have doubled or tripled their original Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goals.

One of those churches is West Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville. In 2014, their goal for the LMCO was $5,000. Challenged by the missionaries leaving the field for financial reasons, West Broadway set their goal for $10,000. At the end of the offering period, the church’s giving totaled more than $20,700.

“The biggest driving factor was the reorganization of the IMB, the sense that missionaries were going to have to come off the field because of lack of support. We didn’t want to see that happen,” Tim Beougher, pastor of West Broadway for four years, said.

“I challenged the church and other pastor friends of mine to take whatever our goal was last year and try to double it. If every church did that we wouldn’t have a financial problem,” he added.

Beougher made the churches goal visual using the greenery that was decorating the church for the season. They had a “Lottie Moon wreath” where a light was lit for each $100 given to the offering. The 100 lights were lit by the first two weeks. In the end, they had more than 200 bulbs lit, showing their progress.

Another church that made use of Christmas decorations to motivate giving to the offering was Williamstown Baptist. They had a “Lottie Moon tree” in the front of the sanctuary that was adorned with ornaments with a specific prayer request for a country and a dollar amount.

Individuals were challenged to take an ornament, pray for the county and give. This was instrumental in meeting a goal of $5,000.

In the end, however, the church surpassed $11,307. In the last seven years or so, the highest amount reached for the LMCO was $3,938. Terry Leap, the new pastor, and the missions team decided to aim for $5,000.

Together, the church promoted the offering from the pulpit, in the Sunday School classes, and even involved the youth.

“I think that the key to leading the church to give more is educating the church and having them buy into the importance of the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering,” Leap said.

“If people are not educated and they don’t have a compelling vision of the importance of this offering, then they won’t give,” he continued. “If they have understood and are compelled to believe that this offering helps us reach the nations, they give and they take ownership in our missions program as Southern Baptists.”

When Kyle Claunch announced to Highland Park First Baptist Church that they were setting a 2015 goal to double their 2014 goal at $14,000, a few of the members, “felt sorry” for Claunch, he said.

“They felt like there is no way we will get that goal. My response was, it turns out my faith wasn’t too big, it was too small. That’s often the case,” Claunch shared.

The membership of Highland Park First brought in approximately $24,000.

The church began increasing their mission strategy before the IMB announced its restructuring. “Providentially the Lord used that. I think it just shows that the people of Highland Park are sensitive to the Spirit of God. I think with this situation they heard not just the plea of their pastor, but I think they heard the voice of their Shepherd who laid His life down for the sheep that we need to act,” he said.

“What holds us back is we just see through men’s eyes and we forget this is what God desires, and He’s just waiting to take a minimal offering and multiply it like loaves and fishes.” (WR)