Put your money where your mouth is
September 20, 2005
I grew up the second boy in a family of five children. The first three of us were boys, each of us just one year apart. When we were young boys, we were like a lot of boys. We played together, fought together and challenged one another in all sorts of ways. “Put your money where your mouth is” is a phrase I heard and said a lot when I was a kid. One of us would brag about something we thought we could do better than the other two, and in almost every case, someone else would say, “Oh, yeah? Put your money where your mouth is!”
And now I’m saying it again. “Put your money where your mouth is.” Have I reverted back to my childhood? I hope not. But I do believe that many of us need to be challenged to say what we mean and mean what we say.
For several years, I have been involved with many of you in a conservative resurgence within our Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). We have stated many times that we wanted a state convention that was more supportive of the life, work and ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). One of the published goals of Project 1000 (the organization which led the conservative resurgence effort) was to “begin the process of moving our Convention from a (pro-Cooperative Baptist Fellowship – or CBF) center left majority to a [pro-SBC] center right majority.” I distinctly remember attending a meeting where one of our strong conservative leaders stated that he wanted to “be a part of a Missouri Baptist Convention that was hard-wired to the SBC.” That comment was met with enthusiastic support, not to mention thunderous applause. And so now, I am privileged to serve an MBC that is fully supportive of the SBC. But again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
But, what does that mean? What does it mean to be fully supportive of the SBC? Does it mean that our methods are similar? Not completely.
Look at Missouri Baptist churches and you will see various kinds of churches – large and small churches; rural and city churches; traditional, contemporary, and blended worship styles. Missouri/Southern Baptist churches come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. But they each carry the same Gospel message. We say it in many different ways but we repeat the same message – “Jesus saves, Jesus saves.” But again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is”.
What does it mean to be fully supportive of the SBC? Does it mean that our doctrine is sound? Absolutely. Doctrinal integrity is important to us and it is imperative for the continued success of our denomination. I am forever grateful for those who stood with me to return our state convention to doctrinal integrity. We were shunned. But we were never afraid to speak up and to speak out against liberalism. But again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
What does it mean to be fully supportive of the SBC? It means “putting your money where your mouth is.” To be fully supportive of the SBC, ultimately, means being involved with all Southern Baptists in worldwide missions and evangelism. It means accepting the Acts 1:8 Challenge and implementing Acts 1:8 by giving to missions through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program. Even conservative Southern Baptists periodically debate the particulars of doctrine. Sometimes, our methodologies differ. But the one constant with Southern Baptists is the Cooperative Program. Those who are fully supportive of the SBC are happy to give generously to missions and evangelism through the Cooperative Program. But again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
I recently had occasion to look at the Cooperative Program giving of some of our loyal, conservative Missouri/Southern Baptist churches. Actually, I had received correspondence concerning a Missouri Baptist church that is not supportive of the current direction of the MBC. That church has taken the drastic step to significantly cut the percentage of their offerings that go to missions through the Cooperative Program. I am distressed whenever that occurs. I will never understand why any Baptist would hold more than 10,500 SBC missionaries hostage just because they disagree with a particular action of the convention. But the action of that church prompted me to look at the giving records from several of our churches. I looked at some other churches that are openly defiant about the conservative direction of the MBC/SBC. I found the level of their giving to be very low. That was to be expected.
I also looked into the giving reports of some churches that fall into that “fully-supportive-of-the-SBC” category. I was disappointed at what I found. Now certainly, there are conservative churches that are generously supporting missions and evangelism through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program. The list of the top 100 churches giving through the Cooperative Program (with a few exceptions) reads like the “Who’s Who” among conservative Missouri Baptist churches. I applaud and appreciate those of you who already give sacrificially to see Acts 1:8 come to fruition.
But I have written this article to challenge others of you to “Put your money where your mouth is.” The challenge is to churches similar to one of our conservative Missouri Baptist churches whose pastor serves on a strategic MBC committee. That church gave less than one percent (0.002 percent) of its budget to missions through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program in 2004. And again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
I continued to look specifically at churches whose pastors and members had been heavily involved – and highly visible – in our fight for the conservative resurgence in the MBC, those who wanted the MBC to be fully supportive of the SBC. I found another conservative church whose pastor is currently serving on the MBC Executive Board. That church gives 1.9 percent of their regular offerings to missions and evangelism through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program. And again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
I discovered another Missouri Baptist church whose pastor is well known in the association as an outspoken conservative pastor, one who is outwardly supportive of the SBC, yet that church gave nothing to missions and evangelism through the MBC/SBC Cooperative Program. And again, I find myself saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
To those who stood with me – “fighting the good fight” to return our MBC to her conservative roots aligned with the SBC, may I be blunt? If the MBC was worth fighting for, it is worth paying for. Out of deep conviction, we were moved to take a stand and fight for right within the MBC. In the power of the Spirit of God, we struggled for the opportunity to give direction to the missions and ministries of the MBC – and God gave us the victory! Now that same conviction that provoked us to fight for the heart of the MBC urges us to give generously to pay for the missions and ministries of the convention. You say that you are fully supportive of the SBC/MBC? I say, “Put your money where your mouth is.”