Texas Baptist Voices

Jeff Johnson: Texas Baptists' return on investment is miraculous

Return on investment is the percentage you earn for the cash you invest. I taught this a number of years as a financial analyst and college instructor. I often would set up my portable marker board and write on it: (Return - Capital)/Capital) x 100% = Rate of Return]. Therefore: (($110,000 - $100,000)/$100,000) x 100% = 10% R.O.I. (Return on Investment). A rate of return of 10 percent in those days wasn’t that great, but the math was easy.

jeff johnson130Jeff JohnsonThe carpenter from Nazareth proposed an R.O.I. like this: ((5000 fed - (5 loaves + 2 fish) / (5 loaves + 2 fish)) x 100% = a miracle.) Remember that?

Jesus made it clear he regarded the feeding task to be his disciples’ responsibility.

But they came back at him: “We have nothing. ...” Of course, this statement was qualified by the “five loaves and two fish” they did have. I think it was Bill Hybels who said to his church, “Bring what you have, and do what you can.” I like that.

Like so many others, when God calls, I often either do not answer or beg off:

“I’m too old for this sort of thing.”

“I’m sorry, but I have issues.”

“I’m too busy.”

“I’ve already given and done my bit.”

“We should let the younger folk do it.”

“I’m not ordained.”

“I don’t know too much about the Bible.”

“This is not my gift.”

“I’ve got too much on my own plate right now.”


texas baptist voices right120When told, “You give them something to eat,” the disciples were unaware they possessed the resources to fulfill Jesus’ command. They didn’t know it, but they did have something! Jesus’ point is clear: You give what you have, do what you can … and I will take care of the distribution issues.

Feeding the 5,000 was a miracle. It’s not easy to explain. Most miracles aren’t. But the greater miracle was opening the eyes of faith of those who would be “feeders.” When their faith vision was operative, they were able to see a huge R.O.I.

The measure I usually get back is far greater than the measure I give. It’s like a divine law of investment or something.

Texas Baptists have an abundance of resources, including people, places, affinity groups, cultures—and finances.

Jill Larsen, our chief financial officer, administrates how we manage those financial resources. The biblical word for the gift of administration means “to guide or steer,” to kind of keep things in focus. She and her team enable Texas Baptists to keep our ministry in focus. I like that—focused financial stewardship for ministry.

I am thankful for her leadership in helping keep our Texas Baptist convention accountable, financially healthy and maintaining a healthy R.O.I.

Thank you, Texas Baptists, for your trust, for “bringing what you have, and doing what you can” and that plus “Jesus” = the miracle we call the Baptist General Convention of Texas

And that’s a real R.O.I.

Jeff Johnson is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and pastor of First Baptist Church in Commerce.

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