JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptists refused to let COVID-19 slow their passion for missions. Despite the challenges of sheltering in place, “virtual” worship services, social distancing, and the temporary banishment of the offering plate, Missouri Baptists exceeded the goal for the Rheubin L. South Missouri Missions Offering (MMO), contributing $736,628 in 2020.
Total MMO receipts for 2020, which are disbursed in 2021, outpaced the goal of $725,000, which was raised last year after Missouri Baptists posted record receipts of $821,722 in 2019.
2020 marked the eighth straight year of MMO giving above $700,000. The number of churches contributing to MMO declined in 2020, dipping to 733 from 785 the previous year. Likely, this is because a number of MBC churches suspended or curtailed in-person gatherings as a result of Covid-19 and thus did not take up an MMO offering.
Missouri Baptists responded well to the MMO theme of 1 Chronicles 29:9. When the Israelites saw King David and other leaders give sacrificially to the construction of the temple, they rejoiced because their leaders had given willingly, “for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord.”
The robust MMO offering in 2020, on the heels of record giving in 2019, highlights an upward trend in MMO giving in recent years, according to the MBC’s Rob Phillips, who coordinates promotion of the state missions offering.
“We are so grateful to Missouri Baptists and MBC-affiliated churches for their sacrificial giving in support of 18 ministries across our state,” he said. “Their faithful stewardship – in the face of a global pandemic that took millions of lives, shook the economy, and thrust us out of our comfort zones – is a testimony to their trust in God’s providence.”
Phillips noted that every penny given through MMO goes directly to missions projects, with no funds devoted to overhead. This results in a greater direct impact on transforming lives and communities with the gospel.
“When you know that your gifts help foster children find Christian homes, take the gospel to unreached people groups in Missouri, and provide training and field experience for the next generation of leaders, you can see the direct connection between MMO gifts and gospel impact,” he said.
Great Commission support
MMO supports statewide missions projects that help fulfill the Great Commission. The annual offering in 2020 focused on four areas of ministry that define the MBC’s mission:
(1) Making disciples – sports evangelism; HLGU’s Prison Extension Campus; VBS ministry training and resource development; youth evangelism and missions; and the state fair ministry of the Missouri DOM Fellowship.
(2) Collegiate ministries – summer missions mentoring initiative; international student ministry missions conference and regional gatherings; and a new technical school initiative.
(3) Multiplying churches – next-step requests for church multipliers; partnership missions in Mexico, Italy, Minnesota/Wisconsin, and Montana; and strategic missionary development.
(4) Developing leaders – disaster relief equipment and volunteer readiness; Missouri WMU; church leader development; new pastors’ conference and revitalization pastors’ conference; Resound (Missouri Baptist Revitalization Network); Baptist Builders / volunteer mobilization; and hunger relief.
In addition, 17 percent of MMO receipts go to the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, which provides spiritual guidance, counseling, and a safe haven from abuse and neglect at five state campuses.
And 10 percent of MMO gifts go back to the associations of contributing churches, where the funds support regional mission projects.
Funds raised in excess of the goal are placed in reserve for future missions opportunities. At the same time, 10 percent of the excess is given to Missouri WMU, which promotes state, national, and international missions in MBC-affiliated churches.
Missouri Baptists approved a 2021 MMO goal of $725,000. This June, the MBC announces the 2021 theme and provides churches with MMO resources.