Hold the rope steady
We learned early in Sunday School the story of Joseph. How the Lord used the teenager with a coat of many colors to move from a broken family, to slavery, to organizing and operating a corrections facility. After a series of events, by the ripe age of 30, Joseph rose in one day to become the second highest-ranked person in the mightiest empire of his day. It truly is an amazing story of how God honors faith, diligence, and discipline.
Joseph’s greatest work was planning and preparing for a seven-year famine in most of the known world. Many would die in other nations from starvation because of the lack of a strategy. Joseph launched a cooperative plan that would sustain life in Egypt and elsewhere.
His plan was simply, cooperatively moving the abundance of grain from individual farmers to the holding bins in the cities. Then, in times of famine, the reserves were used to feed the people.
Missouri may not have had a famine in the first quarter of 2019, but we sure had ice and several inches of snow. So many of our churches faced a significant loss of income during the weeks of inclement weather. If your church’s reserves were thin, the icy Sundays placed your church finances in a precarious situation.
We should not only think of the challenge we face here but also consider how important it is to hold the rope for people over there. If Missouri Southern Baptist churches were independent (societal) in their mission work, the dip in resources would risk the work of the missionaries on the field. Instead, we have a cooperative plan. A plan that keeps our missionaries on the field in good times and bad. The old-timers call this “holding rope.” That is, holding the “missional” rope.
When we hold the rope steady, the international missionary never has to worry about the support check arriving, even though he/she is in an “undisclosed,” “high security” location. By holding the rope means that our state ministries for both the young and the old do not have to fear closure or curtailing of services.
This means that no storm or natural disaster pauses the work of our MBC Disaster Relief volunteer teams. Our infrastructure is in place and we can deploy.
This means Missouri Baptist universities can offer scholarships in the spring for the student arriving in the fall.
This means chaplains credentialed by the North American Mission Board, or Midwestern theological students know that a whole team is with them because Missouri Baptists join with other Southern Baptists across the land to support the Cooperative Program.
Since the grave stone was rolled away from the tomb of our resurrected Lord, there has never been a better, more comprehensive plan for doing the work of state, national, and international missions than the Cooperative Program. Thank you for your faithful support and willingness to do more in preparation for the days ahead.
You can’t prepare after a tragedy has occurred
As your church begins working on next year’s budget, allow me to encourage you to make certain your pastor is part of the GuideStone retirement plan. Since the first of the year, Missouri Baptists have lost some great men of God. If that pastor was part of the GuideStone retirement plan, your state convention provides the “protection benefits” of life insurance, disability, and an additional $17.50 per month for retirement. The small amount of retirement funding is important, but in the context of a loss of life, the life insurance is powerful.
My heart was broken for the dear widow who served for decades beside her husband pastor and they were not part of the GuideStone plan for pastors. But when we contacted another widow, it was comforting to assure her that because the church provided the GuideStone investment for its pastor, MBC provided the life insurance and she had at least something for the days ahead.
Church, whether your church’s pastor is full time or bivocational, make it a priority to provide the security of being in the GuideStone plan. And please, don’t cast a total salary package before your pastor and ask him to allocate it according to his need. That is not a good strategy.
Rather, the church has the responsibility before the Lord to provide for the man you have called as pastor. If you need help being the best stewards of your salary plan for your pastor, please contact the MBC and specifically Gene Foster, firstname.lastname@example.org. We have faithful people who live to serve you and your church.