First Lamar learns stewardship lessons
LAMAR—With its budget year running from July 1 to June 30 in 2006, First Baptist Church, Lamar, was behind budget and very nearly close to the red mark as it had just finished a $3.9 million relocation/building project, resulting in a $2 million expenditure.
Diligently praying and seeking God for answers, Pastor Robb Hodson sought out the help of Spencer Hutson, biblical stewardship specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
After sitting down with Pastor Hodson, Hutson handed him a “Be an Encourager, Tithe” packet. As Hodson read over the material, he became challenged and convicted about the tithing of his church. The verse that the MBC Stewardship Department uses before it starts the steps that are laid out in the packet is Malachi 3:10: “Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. ‘Test Me in this way,’ says the Lord of Hosts. ‘See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.’”
That’s exactly what the Lord did for First Lamar. Before the stewardship team came to encourage them, the church had been averaging around $6,000-$6,700 a week in tithes and offerings. With the new budget, their debt and retirement totaled $10,600 a week, putting the congregation into a financial struggle.
“We decided to do a stewardship emphasis in October,” said Hodson. “From that time our finances have continued to grow and as of March our treasurer’s report said that we had received $315,000 with $260,000 in expenses. Our budget receipts have surpassed our budget requirements by over $20,000.”
Not receiving any outside financial support, the church has given all of the funds for the project.
According to Hodson the old building has been appraised at $500,000 and is up for sale. With the new building being worth around $4 million, the church has been able to reach out more in the community and minister to those in need. All this has been a blessing; the new building is being used for ministry in accommodating such things as men’s and women’s Bible studies and testing for the local high school.
The construction of the new building was done primarily by Crosslands Construction Co., an organization that was established in 1977 by the Crosslands family in Columbus, Kan. After the company had completed the layout, engineering and most of the labor, the project was finished using volunteer builders from Excelsior Springs as well as Mississippi.
“God has opened doors for ministry that we didn’t have before through our new church building,” said Hodson. “We have seen our church grow over the last year by about 5 percent.”
Over the past 10-15 years, the church has given about $1.5-1.75 million in tithes and offerings.
“The only answer I can give for our giving increase is first, God’s gracious blessing, and second, people’s awareness that God expects us to tithe and will bless if we commit it to Him,” said Hodson. In an email sent to Hutson, Pastor Hodson ended by saying, “Thank you for being faithful to God and for providing churches with material that teaches God’s truth.”