During a capital campaign in a church I served, the congregation voted to give 10 percent of the money raised to missions. This included seed money to start a new seminary in Northern Virginia and to begin a medical mission ministry to provide resources through Baptist channels around the world.
As a result, today The John Leland Center is a fully accredited Baptist seminary near our nation’s capital, and Crosslink is an international ministry that channels millions of dollars in medicines and medical supplies throughout the world. Would these ever have happened if the church had not decided to tithe its capital campaign?
In tough economic times, it is easy to rationalize the reduction of our personal gifts to the church. We think we will catch up with our giving when the economy improves. The same is true for the church. Most of our churches are facing difficult choices, as budgets get tighter and costs escalate. Buildings need to be built, staff members need to be added and fixed expenses soar. As budget committees meet to plan the churches’ spending for the next year, tough choices must be made.
Why not cut missions?
How often do we ask, “Why not cut missions?” Or perhaps we redefine missions as ministries that directly impact our own local church. Some will look for fault in mission agencies to justify keeping the money at home. We must be prudent in our giving, but no institution is without fault.
Yet does the biblical principle of tithing include the church? Is there a mandate for the church to send at least 10 percent of its gifts to missions? I do not know of any Scripture that commands it, but there are certainly reasons we should consider sending a minimum of a tithe to ministries beyond our local church.
All we have belongs to God
The tithe reminds us that all we have belongs to God. All we have comes from God and belongs to him. Our personal and church budgets should reflect God’s kingdom assignment and not our own personal agenda.
We also give to missions because our abundance is to be shared with those who have too little (2 Corinthians 8-9). We give because many never have heard the hope of Christ. We give because of human suffering brought on by natural calamities, greedy systems or corrupt governments. We give because churches can do more together than we can do by ourselves.
Churches raise millions of dollars for buildings. What if 10 percent of our capital campaigns go to missions? Amazing things will happen. Some will give more generously because of the mission component, and mission initiatives will begin that never could have come from church budgets.
Many churches can tell stories of God expanding the ministry, vision and reach of the congregation beyond its own walls through an unwavering commitment to missions.
I pray that BGCT gifts through the Cooperative Program and Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions will continue to be a significant part of your missions plan.
Randel Everett is executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board.