The Baptist General Convention of Texas reported this week their financial numbers for January 2008. The cooperating churches of the convention gave $5,039,361. These gifts represent a 2% increase in giving as compared to last year at this time. Unfortunately the gifts represented only 94.8% of the approved ministry budget. This shortfall of $279,045 compromises our ability to do all we hoped and plan to do this year.
Financial stewardship remains the life blood of our mission together. The slogan “We Can Do More Together” rings hollow if we keep our money securely in our back pockets or locked away in our purses.
Even though the news out of Dallas is promising we must be willing to look at the big picture. Typically the January receipts reflect the giving of our churches in December of the previous year. I know our church gave more in December than anytime in the history of the church and this blessing was passed on to the BGCT. For many churches across the state December is a catch up month for the givers, as year end gift come in. So in some ways this January report may reflect a benchmark of our giving at its best. If this is the case, we will begin to face a real financial challenge in the next six months unless our churches choose to increase their giving percentages, or our church show signs of greater financial strength.
Another critical road marker will be the giving report in February. This report will reflect any changes in the giving patterns of our churches for 2008. Many of our churches have annual budgets that kick off in January. If our churches increased their giving percentages or decreased their commitments in the 2008 budgets it will be reflected in the February financial report. I am hoping and praying our churches chose across the board to stay the course and to continue their strong commitment to the mission of our convention. The increase in giving in January is a promising sign, but we would be wise to pay close attention.
For large organizations like the BGCT financial reports are much like stepping on the scales at the doctor’s office. The numbers tell a story we need to learn from. These financial numbers do not tell the whole story, but one lesson I take from this report is simple. We have work to do and there are still a vast number of our churches pulling in the same direction. Let’s keep up the good work and do even better in the days to come. There is too much at stake to be distracted now!
The words of Paul fit our situation so well when he wrote to his comrades in Galatia:
Likewise Jesus fittingly pointed out: