Have you ever been on the outside of an inside joke? You know that feeling; the one where you perhaps laugh or stare awkwardly at what was said without really understanding.
Unintentionally or not, those who were on the inside left you out. Thinking about this type of situation puts into perspective the way many in our churches may feel around Christmas.
In December, Southern Baptists take up the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that impacts our missional purpose as a convention, but I wonder if it is like an “inside joke” for many of the people in our congregations. They hear the name Lottie Moon, but they don’t get it, so they choose not to participate. As December approaches I’d like to share some practical ideas that may help your people to engage in this mission effort.
1. Introduce Lottie Moon. Tell her story. Don’t assume everyone knows who she was. The name alone in connection to the offering will not help your congregation engage. Rather, an education of who she was and what the offering is all about will help foster greater participation.
2. Remind people of our greater Southern Baptist partnership and how we can do more together. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) works together to reach the world with the Gospel. Every church plays an important role in helping the SBC send and keep missionaries on the field through these specialized offerings. Educate people how their gift joins with millions of others to fulfill our missional calling. Remind them that 100 percent of the money given is sent to support missionaries all over the world.
3. Tell stories of missionaries and how God is using them. Stories help people understand and connect to purpose, which engages them into action. Using the well-prepared videos provided by the International Mission Board (imb.org/lottie-moon-christmas-offering-resources) will help people understand the mission behind the giving.
4. Make it personal. Giving to Lottie Moon not only helps keep missionaries on the field but supports the livelihoods of our brothers and sisters in Christ. These men, women and children have dedicated their lives to going to the world with the truth of the Gospel. Many of them are families from Oklahoma. It becomes personal when they realize this could be their neighbor, coworker or church family.
5. Be creative in your presentation and constant promotion. Set a goal, and help your people achieve it. This is your opportunity to make the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering mission specific to your congregation. Use every opportunity to help educate people about the offering including small groups, education classes and worship services. Design fundraisers that bring awareness to the mission and help meet your church’s goal.
6. Set the example as a pastor or church leader. Make the offering personal to you. Have conviction about why you give, and people will better understand why they should too. I still remember as a young man being encouraged by my pastor to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. He said that every year he wants to give more to the mission of spreading the Gospel than he spends on his own family for Christmas. His example has remained etched in my mind, and today my family gives sacrificially because he set the example for me.
7. Pray. Prayer connects us to the heart of God. It directs us to His will. Pray for the missionaries, the people groups, stewardship of the money and the mission. Lead people to pray about what they should give, and then challenge them to be obedient to what God calls them to do.
For more information visit imb.org/lmco