Every time a person gives money to a Southern Baptist church a percentage of his or her gift goes directly into what is known as the Cooperative Program. At Coats Baptist, we’ve set that amount as 13%. Once at the CP, those monies are divided among Southern Baptist state conventions and entities—of which are the two Southern Baptist (SB) mission agencies: The North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB). Lots of initials, I know.
Southern Baptists are a missional people known for working together. In fact, we are the largest evangelical missional force on the planet. Because we put a priority on mission, for which we find biblical warrant (Matt. 28:18-20), we give directly to mission efforts twice a year. We know them as the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions. The offerings are named after two nineteenth-century female SB missionaries. You can read their stories here: Annie and Lottie. These special offerings are annual gifts above the regular tithes of church members and go entirely to fund the sending and sustaining of missionaries on the field. Every dollar given will directly support missionaries on the field. Your gift, their work, God’s Kingdom. Bottom line.
As I hope you know, this Sunday, December 13 we collect our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering during our morning services (or online). We’ve promoted, we’ve prayed and now we give—generously and sacrificially. This year the IMB has set a goal of 175 million dollars. That’s a big number because there’s a big need. Over 3 billion people worldwide have little to no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Joshua Project). That’s why we as Coats Baptist Church are committed to pulling our weight. We’ve set our goal at $40,000. I have no doubt that by God’s grace we will again exceed our goal this year. Give, church, give to the Lord’s work.
Giving is on the mind, and rightfully so. But have you ever thought about going? That’s a question for us all to consider. In light of our knowledge of Christ and the world’s need for Christ, there is a compelling argument for us to strongly consider how we should spend our lives in service to Christ. I believe there are students, singles, couples and families that are right now among the membership of Coats Baptist Church, upon whom God has placed a call to full-time foreign missions. I don’t know who you are, but God does. Remember, the question is not “Lord, why should I go?” but rather, “Lord, why should I stay?” I too am looking in the mirror.
It is the mission of Coats Baptist Church to make disciples who in turn make disciples. We have a mission of multiplication. Aaron Coe and Dustin Willis’ book Life on Mission paints this concept clearly (Amazon). As we make disciples, we want to equip people for a life on mission—God’s mission. For some of us, following God’s mission for our lives means pulling up stakes, quitting our jobs and changing geographic locations. That’s as bold as it is radical. It may be to help plant a church, it may be to be the church planter, it may be to transfer your career overseas, or it may be to start an application with the IMB to become a full-time missionary. It may just be that God wants to stop some of us in our tracks, calling an audible in our mid-life, mid-career world, and send us to the other side of the world, family and all.
Jeff Iorg serves as president of Gateway Seminary, one of six SB seminaries, all of which receive funding through your giving to the CP. To help Christians discern God’s call on their life, he has written a little book entitled Is God Calling Me? (Amazon) In Chapter 7, “The Call to Missions,” he writes,
A call to missions—to be a missionary—is a call to invest your life communicating the gospel, making disciples, planting churches, and training leaders in a cross-cultural (often international) context. An awareness of this call often begins with a willingness to serve anytime, anywhere. It may develop and deepen through a growing interest in a particular people group or geographic location (pp. 87-88).
It is true that every believer is on mission, but not every believer is called to be a missionary. Yes, but some surely are called indeed. In the Christmas season, when we celebrate the sending of the Lord Jesus Christ, I can’t help but hear the prophet Isaiah’s words, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (emphasis mine) (Isaiah 6:8).
May the Lord call workers for the harvest from among those numbered at Coats Baptist.
As you discern God’s call on your life, let me encourage you to check out this article on Adoniram Judson’s call to missions. Perhaps it will give you light for your path.
For a Christmas gift, or just a good winter read, let me recommend a couple of my favorite missionary biographies.
- Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson Amazon
- Timothy George, Faithful Witness: The Life and Mission of William Carey Amazon