I did not grow up Southern Baptist. I can hear the gasps in the Deep South ringing in my ears as I make my confession, but it’s the truth. I had great Christian parents who raised me in a Baptist church, but it was a church that was anti-denominational. Not only were we not Southern Baptists, but we thought Southern Baptists were the enemy!
Proving that God has a sense of humor, I now lead Southern Baptist work in New England. But because I did not grow up Southern Baptist, I’ve had a steep learning curve. Honestly, all the acronyms (IMB, NAMB, SEBTS, SBTS, SWBTS, GBTS, MBTS, NEBTS, ERLC, and SBCEC) and all the mission offerings (Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, and New England Missions) can be overwhelming to those of us who were grafted into the Southern Baptist family. The irony is, now it is literally my job to explain all of this confusing stuff to others!
There is no way I could explain all of that in one article. But I do want to focus on one aspect of our Southern Baptist mission system, how we support missions. All our churches give to something called the Cooperative Program, which provides a solid base of support for all our mission work. Churches in New England send their Cooperative Program mission gifts to my office. We keep a portion to fund mission work in New England, and the rest we send to the national SBC office in Nashville, TN. They disperse it to both mission boards, six seminaries, and other mission efforts around the world.
“Though I wish that giving to the Cooperative Program was enough to meet all the needs of all the missionaries, the reality is that it does not.
Though I wish that giving to the Cooperative Program was enough to meet all the needs of all the missionaries, the reality is that it does not. Because it is not enough, we supplement the Cooperative Program with three special mission offerings each year. Each of these three offerings is focused 100% on specific types of mission work. At Christmas, we collect the Lottie Moon Mission Offering to help supplement our funding for international missionaries. At Easter, we collect the Annie Armstrong Mission Offering to help supplement our funding for North American missionaries. In the fall, typically September, we have a New England Mission Emphasis that includes focused prayer and a special offering to help supplement our funding for New England missions.
The types of things we fund out of the offering we collect during the New England Mission Emphasis is not funded by the regular BCNE budget or by any other SBC offering or agency. They are special needs unique to New England. If they are going to be funded, we are going to have to do it ourselves and this special offering is our way of doing it. This is the only offering where 100% of it stays in New England. So if you love New England, you should love the New England Mission Emphasis and take part in it.
Soon your church will receive a packet of material in the mail about this year’s New England Mission Emphasis. I hope you will read it with great interest and decide to take part. As we stand United in Faith, God can use us to do amazing things.
Thanks for your partnership in ministry.