GRAND PRAIRIE—Inglewood Baptist Church tangibly—and monetarily—demonstrates its commitment to missions.
The congregation that averages less than 300 people most Sundays dedicated more than $200,000 in 2012 to missions—more than 23 percent of its total receipts.
Eight families from the church serve in missions around the world, and eight young people have committed their lives to missions in the last four years.
During a recent Sunday morning service, Pastor Monty Guice asked for a show of hands of worshippers who had traveled outside the United States on a missions trip. More than 25 percent of the members in attendance raised their hands.
Ed Miller, minister of missions and pastoral care, said the congregation’s missions pedigree goes back to the 1960s, when Avery Willis was pastor. Willis left the Grand Prairie church to become a missionary to Indonesia and later was a vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.
“The key to getting a church involved in missions is a pastor who really has a heart for missions,” Miller said. Guice doesn’t just preach about missions, he noted. The pastor participates in missions and has a brother who is a missionary.
Inglewood has a history of missions commitment. Miller noticed that when he and his family spent their furlough from Zambia there in 1996. They continued to return to the church each of their following furloughs because of that commitment until their retirement after 31 years in Africa.
“I saw the heart the people here had for missions—how they were so interested in missions and also had so many people from this church going overseas,” he said.
The church began sending people to Zambia while Miller still served there, and it has continued to send a team every year since 2005. More than 40 people in the congregation have traveled to Zambia at least once—which is a key reason for the large financial commitment to missions, Miller said.
“When people get personally involved in missions, their hearts are changed,” he explained.
Since he retired from missions service in 2009, Miller noted, the number of Southern Baptist foreign missionaries has declined by 700, primarily due to a lack of resources.
“What happens is we get so caught up in what’s happening in America, and we begin to believe our own stories about how we don’t have any money. The reality is it’s the old story: There’s plenty of money, and it’s in our pockets,” Miller said.
“We somehow want to build bigger and bigger kingdoms here and begin to believe what we hear the newspapers say and the TV say, that we’re having such a hard time. And we begin to believe we owe it to ourselves and don’t realize that there are many who have never yet met Jesus.”
Inglewood Baptist emphasizes missions all year, he noted. About 140 from the congregation recently attended a missions lunch to learn more about opportunities around the world.
The church’s Kingdom Women group has a missions speaker each month. Despite the name, Miller said, men also attend to support the women in their commitment to missions.
“There’s sometimes the belief that if we give to missions, we won’t have enough to do what we need to do here. It’s just the opposite,” Miller said.
The poor economy hasn’t resulted in the Dallas Cowboys or Texas Rangers playing to empty stadiums, he pointed out.
“People will give to where their passion is. If our passion is the world, it’s going to make a difference,” Miller said.
This year, the church will send missions teams to Zambia, Kenya, Southeast Asia, Guatemala, South Dakota and Boston. That’s in addition to work in Grand Prairie, such as volunteering at an elementary school and an apartment ministry. Wherever missions occurs, it’s important, Miller said.
“There are no heroes in ministry. Going overseas doesn’t make you better than anyone else,” he pointed out.
Building the kingdom of God matters most, Miller said.
“I used to have a philosophy: ‘If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.’ That’s a common American saying,” he said.
“But I’ve discovered, if anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing wrong. What I mean is, don’t wait until you can do everything right before you do anything. If you are willing to go, God will take care of those things if you will trust him. Don’t be afraid to walk into the unknown.”