Cooperative giving: does it matter?
October 5 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Cooperative giving: does it matter? | Friday, Oct. 5, 2001

Friday, Oct. 5, 2001

Cooperative giving: does it matter?

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor When the economy slows, should church contributions slow along with it, or should the people of God commit to dig a little deeper? It is a sad truth that giving to God is often the first item to be cut when a family's budget gets tight.

It should be the last.

I learned that as a boy. God comes first.

Commitment to God is shown in many ways. Sacrificial giving is one of the most basic.

Many churches are feeling a budget pinch this year, as members contribute less.

As a result, church contributions through North Carolina's Cooperative Giving plans are also running behind projections.

That's a problem.

I have observed that when people really care about something - when they truly believe their giving matters - they will look past selfish interests, dig deeper and give more.

Consider what has happened since the Sept. 11 attacks that took thousands of lives. Folks have been so anxious to do something that they poured more than $600 million into relief funds in less than two weeks.

If you want to do something to fight terrorism, promote the message of Christ.

Love people. Be slow to anger. Show compassion to strangers, even to those who wear turbans and scarves.

Support the work of missionaries and others who labor here and abroad to proclaim a message of peace and spiritual wholeness, a promise of paradise that does not require mass murder and martyrdom for immediate entry.

Our giving matters.

It matters to the work of the local church. Projects and ministries that can impact the community go undone when funds are not available.

It matters to the work of the associations and the state convention. When contributions from the churches fall, important programs suffer.

Take, for example, the Baptist State Convention.

After several years of growth in giving, the BSC's 2001 budget of $35.75 million is currently underfunded by more than $1 million. If contributions do not pick up by the end of the year, the budget could fall farther and farther behind, perhaps by as much as five percent.

That's almost $1.8 million.

But $1.8 million is just a number. What does the number mean?

Among other things, it means more than $400,000 less for global missions through the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, when there have never been more people who don't know Christ. That's equivalent to the salaries and expenses of at least half a dozen missionaries.

It means more than $600,000 less for BSC ministries and programs designed to support congregations, encourage evangelism, start new churches, and minister on a wide variety of mission fronts in our state, where the percentage of Christians is shrinking.

It means $262,000 less for Christian higher education through N.C. Baptist colleges and universities, where future leaders are learning.

It means $90,000 less for the N.C. Baptist Children's Homes, where hurting children look to us for security and love.

It means more than $47,000 less for the Baptist Retirement Homes and $35,500 less for the School of Pastoral Care programs at N.C. Baptist Hospital.

It means $20,000 less for Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute, $5,750 less for the N.C. Baptist Foundation, and, yes, more than $19,000 less for the Biblical Recorder.

Most Baptist institutions don't have large reserves to fall back on. As a result, one of two things will happen: either important projects and ministries will not be funded, or people who are called by God and hired by N.C. Baptists will have to spend more time raising money and less time doing the work they were called to do.

The dollars we give to our churches do not just disappear into a black hole - they are put to good use in ministries that matter.

The challenges and needs are too great for N.C. Baptists to become financially timid.

If we have to dig a little deeper, it will be worth it.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/5/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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