JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptists proved themselves resilient and resourceful in 2021 – in record-breaking fashion, according to preliminary figures just released.
Despite the continuing challenges of Covid-19 and its variants – which affect worship, fellowship, and methods of giving – Missouri Baptists set a new giving record for the Rheubin L. South Missouri Missions Offering (MMO), contributing $824,436 in 2021 – surpassing the previous record of $821,722 set in 2019.
Total MMO receipts for 2021, which are disbursed in 2022, outpaced the goal of $725,000 and far exceeded 2020 MMO giving of $736,628.
2021 marked the ninth straight year of MMO receipts above $700,000. The number of churches contributing to MMO rose slightly, from 733 in 2020 to 744 in 2021.
Missouri Baptists responded enthusiastically to the MMO theme of 2 Corinthians 8:5, in which the apostle Paul praises the churches of Macedonia for begging to be included in a collection for the suffering saints in Jerusalem. Paul then appeals to believers in Corinth to follow through on their commitment to do the same. Concerning the Macedonians, Paul writes, “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will.”
MBC Executive Director John Yeats expressed gratitude for Missouri Baptists’ commitment to sacrificial giving. “In a year plagued with uncertainty, Missouri Baptists truly trusted in the providence of God and gave generously to the Lord’s work across our state,” he said.
In fact, Yeats noted giving above goals in nearly every mission category in 2021:
• Giving through the Cooperative Program totaled $15,466,767, exceeding the spending plan of $15 million and exceeding CP giving in 2020 by nearly 6 percent. The amount gathered above the $15 million spending plan is divided 50/50 between the SBC and the MBC.
• Gifts to Annie Armstrong reached $2,410,452, up 40 percent over the previous year.
• Giving to Lottie Moon totaled $4,149,511, up 3.5 percent over 2020.
•And contributions to World Hunger jumped to $178,243, a 19 percent increase.
Additional year-end funds may yet add to these totals.
In every case except World Hunger, giving exceeded the 2021 goal. “This is a work only the Lord can do through the willing hearts and hands of Missouri Baptists,” said Yeats. “We praise our great God for his goodness, and we thank Missouri Baptists for their obedience to ‘give themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will.’”
The robust MMO offering in 2021 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 two dozen ministries across our state,” he said. “Their faithful stewardship – in the face of a continuing global pandemic and its economic fallout – testifies to their trust in the providence of God.”
Phillips noted that every penny given through MMO goes directly to missions projects, with no funds earmarked for 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 2021 focused on four areas of ministry that define the MBC’s mission:
(1) Making disciples – sports evangelism; VBS ministry training and resource development; youth evangelism and missions; Certified Nursing Assistant healthcare training; and the state fair ministry of the Missouri DOM Fellowship.
(2) Collegiate ministries – a summer missions mentoring initiative; Licensed Practical Nursing training and field experience; HLGU’s initiative to offer a biblical studies degree to inmates; Christian worldview and public engagement; sexual assault care packages; a new technical school initiative; and collegiate ministry networks.
(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 network training and development; collegiate disaster relief internships; hunger relief; and Baptist Builders / volunteer mobilization.
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 gifts above the goal is given to Missouri WMU, which promotes state, national, and international missions in MBC-affiliated churches. And this year, a gift of $25,000 is being given to Baptist Homes to assist with their ministries to the aged.
Missouri Baptists approved a 2022 MMO goal of $740,000. This June, the MBC announces the 2022 theme and provides churches with MMO resources.