JEFFERSON CITY – As the state begins to reopen and as churches redouble their efforts to make disciples, multiply churches and develop leaders, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director John Yeats encouraged them to trust the Lord for gospel opportunities in days to come.
“I would encourage our churches to focus their ministries on the essentials. Build up one another in the faith,” Yeats said. “Challenge one another to good works. Tend to the needy and above all be attentive to lost people. There is great fearfulness and insecurity in the hearts of many people. That is a great opportunity for us to share the good news about the Lord Jesus.”
Despite his optimism about what God is continuing to do through Missouri Baptists, Yeats admitted the negative financial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Missouri Baptists and, as a result, on the state convention.
“Statistically, the picture is not pretty,” Yeats told The Pathway. “About 1/3 of our churches are running ahead of last year’s contributions. That leaves over 60 percent struggling. Too many of them were concerned about their church’s viability before the COVID-19 restrictions. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some churches to “relaunch” with an emphasis on relational equity instead of programmatic solutions.
“The Cooperative Program giving tends to measure the strength of giving by our members to our churches,” he added. “As of May 7, we are on a trendline for being approximately $500,000 down from last year (for the total projected 2020 CP receipts in Missouri).” This projection is based on the daily average of giving to date, which often fluctuates throughout the year.
However, as of May 8, giving was only 0.99 percent below budget, and it was down 4.2 percent compared to giving at the same time last year.
The MBC and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have the “sacred trust” of carrying out the “large scale gospel work our churches want done in the name of the Lord,” Yeats said.
“The SBC family of missions and ministries, is exponentially larger than any one church or network of churches,” he added. “As generous church members, we have the incredible honor to give through our local church to the Cooperative Program and our churches allocate a portion to the state convention missions and ministries and on to the SBC. In times of national and international crisis this is the way we ‘hold the rope’ for our state, national and international missionaries.
“Globally, so many international missionaries had to leave the nation where they do their work because the host country chose to pull all the international visas. So everyone has to leave and renew their visa. Very costly experience. This happens occasionally but not all at once. The IMB travel budget is incredibly overspent because of this phenomenon. So they need our intercession and our increased giving. One of our MBC churches encouraged their congregation to ‘tithe’ their stimulus check to the IMB during this season.”
To find resources for facing the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.mobaptist.org/covid.