Small Texas churches have big hearts for missions
    December 11 2015 by Southern Baptist TEXAN staff

    When it comes to missions giving, generous support of international missions comes in all sizes of churches.
     
    First Baptist Church of Swan, near Tyler, Texas, is a small congregation with an average Annual Church Profile reported attendance of 38. For the last three years, the church set an ambitious goal of giving $10,000 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
     
    “The amazing thing is that they have exceeded their goal each year,” said Wayne Livingston, SBTC field ministry strategist. “They also raised $5,000 at the same time for a missionary connected to the church.”
      “It’s because of the hearts of our people for missions,” FBC Swan Pastor Bill Minson said, explaining his congregation’s generosity. “As in so many small country churches right now, we have a lot of seniors, not so many young people. We have several people who really have hearts for missions. The whole church does, across the congregation.
     
    One couple has a son and daughter-in-law that are missionaries in Zambia. Another family has a son who was a missionary in Japan for 11 years. The church’s organist took many medical mission trips to Africa as a nurse.
     
    “I preach that the Lord has told us to make disciples. Since most of our church is made up of those who are inactive in going based on their age, they feel that is a way they can fulfill the Great Commission,” Minson added. “I don’t push or preach hard. I just say pray about what God would have you give, and our people are faithful.”
     
    On the other end of the spectrum in size is First Baptist Church of Rockwall with 1,850 in attendance and giving the largest amount of any SBTC congregation at $559,644 last year.
     
    “Our people have bought into the fact that people really are lost without Jesus and have been willing to give sacrificially to see that others come to know him,” stated Pastor Steve Swofford.
     
    “In a day when the number of lost people in the world is growing larger, we dare not let the size of our missions force grow smaller,” he said, referring to the revenue shortfall that prompted the International Mission Board to encourage voluntary retirement of missionaries. “So this year we give more than ever before, not to send more missionaries, but to keep them from having to come home.”
     
    Ferris Baptist Fellowship averages 58 people in attendance but gave $10,392 to LMCO last year. The Ferris congregation makes missions giving an emphasis, Pastor Bob Mashburn explained, crediting the church’s lack of debt for its ability to give generously.
     
    “Our commitment has been that you can either pay debt service or you can pay missionaries. So we go that [missionaries] route,” Mashburn said, noting that the philosophy begins with church leadership.
     
    “We’re getting ready to build another building, and we’ll build that one debt free, too, Lord willing. In the meantime we have no intention of letting go of our Lottie Moon commitment,” Mashburn affirmed. “We don’t have any rich people, by the way. No [one person] writes a check for that every year. We are all in.”
     
    Commitment to missions at Ferris Baptist Fellowship is also enhanced by the active participation of church members in meaningful mission trips. The church has sponsored outreaches to China, Mexico, Thailand, Belize and Alaska, in addition to mission trips to Kansas and Tennessee in the continental United States. Next year, Ferris plans to send a group to Appalachia, Mashburn added.
     
    “You’ve got to get your people involved in missions themselves,” Mashburn said. “And if you can’t go, helping others to go is vitally important.”
     
    “We’re nobody special. We’re just out here in Ferris, Texas, trying to serve the Lord,” Mashburn said. “It’s humbling when a small church can give big. All we want to do is brag about what God did.”

    12/11/2015 11:40:14 AM by Southern Baptist TEXAN staff | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon, Texas




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