In today’s culture, shepherding a church or group of people behind a singular vision may be one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. In the hyper-individual U.S., members of what are commonly considered monolithic groups are exposing themselves to a variety of philosophies and groups who are trying to accomplish good goals. As people support these groups, they become passionate about them and their causes, and they bring them to the churches they are part of.
That creates a stream of people coming to the pastor’s office asking the church to support this cause or that cause, this organization or that. Add to it, the daily deluge of marketing materials that comes from practically any Christian group of any size, and a church quickly has a quagmire of needs to sort through.
During today’s travel day, I asked Van Christian, pastor of First Baptist Church in Comanche, how he decides what to advocate his church support. His congregation began giving to the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger before he became pastor, but he includes some thoughts about the hunger offering as well.
For me, there’s basically a three-fold test. The first thing is it can’t just be generically good. It has be something that is a mandate of Christ for us to do. The second test is it has to be a responsible use of the money. By that I mean, so many of the things you give to go to overhead … so not a lot of your money goes to what you intend. Thirdly, it has to be something that you’re being a good steward. You’re helping the people do the best ministry with your money. Something that’s really good that’s going help three people, isn’t something I’m going to lead out in.
That helps Van sort through a lot of the requests that come to his church. But not all of them. He explains another consideration: limited resources. Not every church has enough funds to make a significant impact for every cause. Some simply require more resources than a church has before a tangible result is seen. Spreading funds haphazardly thin limits a congregation’s impact.
You recognize the fact that you can’t do every good project. You look at what’s going to be the best investment of finite resources that you have.
Van says the last step may be the most important practically. A church must have a core member who is passionate enough to spearhead the effort. Without that, it will never gain traction within the congregation.
Any kind of offering like that is going to have to be important to someone in my church.
For First Baptist Church in Comanche, the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger meets all these requirements. It follows Christ’s mandate to feed the hungry. Ninety-two percent of offering gifts go directly to missions efforts, while the rest goes for promotion. It helps a multitude of people in need.
It truly has a worldwide impact. The money we send to the world hunger offering goes from Bownwood 30 miles from us to all the way around the world. And the amount of people it helps is probably incalculable, but is hundreds of thousands.
We can honestly know the money we have given was used in a positive to way to help people in the same manner that Christ commanded us to do.