Published September 19, 2013
TOCCOA — It’s no secret that national giving through the Cooperative Program has been on a steady decline for the past few decades, even as the economy boomed.
The figures in Georgia mirror that trend. In 1994 churches averaged giving 10.8%, just over a biblical tithe. But then the slide began, dropping every year with two exceptions until it bottomed out in 2011 at half that percentage.
Statistics from 2012, the most recent available, show that churches gave the same amount as in 2011 – a record low of 5.01%. That’s a 50% decline in just 18 years.
“You can’t win the world on a nickel” on the dollar, GBC Executive Director J. Robert White reiterated to Executive Committee members mulling over the proposed 2014 budget. Five cents of every dollar dropped in the offering plate and forwarded to the Cooperative Program only goes half as far as nearly 11 cents on the dollar in 1994.
That’s why the Missions Georgia State Missions Offering is so important, he explained during the budget presentation.
This year’s goal of $1,750,000 has been stagnant for several years as needs increased statewide. The goal has never been reached; last year Georgia Baptist churches gave $1,284,179 to reach their communities for Christ. While that is commendable, it could be better, he said.
“We regularly send an average of $15,000,000 each year to NAMB and IMB, over and above Cooperative Program dollars. In 2012 that amount was $10,743,918 for Lottie Moon and $5,169,413 for Annie Armstrong.
“The Mission Georgia Offering is to Georgia what those offerings are to those very worthwhile agencies. It provides additional income for ministries that cannot be funded through regular Cooperative Program giving.
“It is vital to our work here in Georgia. If we don’t support our own mission field, no one else is going to rush in to do our work for us.”
It is NAMB’s primary responsibility to reach North America and the IMB’s role to reach the international mission field, both with assistance from the local church, he added. Likewise, it is Georgia Baptists’ responsibility to reach their state for Christ.
White then said that Georgia’s decision to accelerate the return of nearly $900,000 to NAMB through the discontinuance of the Cooperative Agreements will have serious implications for funding state ministries. The Mission Georgia offering will play a pivotal role in making up that shortfall.
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