Of the 18 N.C. Baptist churches among the 200 top Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) givers of 2010, the smallest has an average attendance of 310 people on Sunday morning.
“It’s important for the whole church to catch the vision,” said Keith Whitener, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Matthews.
Even though Idlewild has been on the list for a few years, Whitener said it still surprises and saddens him that a church of its size would measure that well against churches with far greater numbers.
On average each person in his church gave $298.51.
“I’d love to see $100 per person,” said Whitener of each church on the list. His church ranked No. 147. “That would be far greater than what we’re giving right now.
“People will spend more on Halloween than they’ll give to Lottie Moon. The Great Commission has got to become the heartbeat and the passion of the church.”
That starts with the pastor and the church’s leaders.
Idlewild has done different things to promote the LMCO as well as other offerings throughout the year.
“One of the big challenges we started putting in front of our people is reminding them whose birthday this is,” Whitener said. “The birthday person gets the biggest gift. We just want to make sure we sacrificially give that gift.”
The church has used penny races or competitions between classes.
Whitener said giving to missions is not an either/or but a both/and … meaning that church members should go on mission and give to mission causes.
“If they go on a mission trip they’ll come back with a different worldview,” he said. “I see glimmers of hope that some churches are beginning to see beyond their four walls.”
Christmas is a busy time at the church. Not only do they promote Lottie Moon, but they collect shoe boxes and participate in Angel Tree.
“We do a lot at Christmas but our people just passionately want to do and want to serve,” said Whitener, who expressed gratitude that his church members want to give.
Whitener said one of the first mission trips he went on with the church was to Botswana when he became pastor 12 years ago.
“We had no money in the budget for a mission trip,” he said. “We took 13 people. I don’t know how that happened but God.”
The church also has active men’s and women’s groups.
One year the children’s ministry set a goal of $400-$500 in change over four weeks. They collected more than $1,000.
Parkwood tops list
The highest ranking Lottie Moon giver in North Carolina is Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia.
Ranked at No. 4, Parkwood’s 1,125 average Sunday morning attendance each gave $472.27 to the offering.
Parkwood Senior Pastor Jeff Long was surprised by the ranking.
Part of the reason the church ranked so high was that an extra offering in 2009 was counted as part of the 2010 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering even though it wasn’t meant to be.
Long said Parkwood has been consistently generous in its offering, but not that generous. The church’s Mission Impact Celebration, held each November before the Lottie Moon offering probably helps the church’s numbers, Long said.
“(The celebration) is such a part of our culture; people save all year to give to that,” said Long. “They don’t just think about it when we promote it.”
The celebration lets the church’s members meet missionaries. Long said the church uses multiple outlets – pulpit, bulletins, emails, website, etc. – to get the message about missions across to its members, “whatever creative way we can let people know what’s going on,” Long said.
The pastor said the church’s purpose says it all: “The purpose of Parkwood Baptist Church is to glorify God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people(s).”
Long emphasizes glorify, grow and go.
The church also is a strong giver to Annie Armstrong Easter Offering as well as promoting local ministries.
Parkwood promotes church planting and works with people groups in Honduras and Nigeria.
“We’re trying to determine the best ways to minister without creating a paternalistic culture,” Long said. “We want them to be able to reproduce it on their own.”
The church took its first adult mission trip in 2000.
“From there ‘til where we are today is kind of amazing,” he said. “Look at what the Lord is doing and has done.”
The Week of Prayer for International Missions is Dec. 4-11.
This year’s theme is “His heart, His hands, His voice — I am Southern Baptist missions” focusing on Acts 1:8. The offering goal is $175 million.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Look in future issues of the Biblical Recorder and online for more stories regarding the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and missionaries serving with the International Mission Board.)
Top N.C. givers
North Carolina has 18 Baptist churches ranked in the Top 200 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering givers for 2010:
4. Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia: $531,306.38
5. Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem: $513,679.76
33. Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Boone: $214,761.22
39. The Summit Church, Durham: $192,400.00
74. Green Street Baptist Church, High Point: $131,206.45
85. Hendersonville First Baptist Church: $121,000.00
93. Durham First Baptist Church: $116,218.01
94. Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte: $115,937.58
99. Charlotte First Baptist Church: $112,005.93
113. Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh: $104,957.59
126. Denver Baptist Church, Denver: $100,641.65
131. Englewood Baptist Church, Rocky Mount: $99,999.96
141. Cary First Baptist Church: $93,622.13
147. Idlewild Baptist Church, Matthews: $92,537.13
148. Grey Stone Baptist Church, Durham: $92,329.20
171. Corinth Baptist Church, Elizabeth City: $82,810.27
172. Carmel Baptist Church, Matthews: $82,566.65
179. Westwood Baptist Church, Roxboro: $80,480