Nearly 27 million people inhabit the state of Texas—an ever-increasing number representing nations and people from around the globe. Statistically, in order to keep pace with the 12 percent population growth experienced since 2010, as many as 30 rural and 1,000 urban churches must be planted each year. While messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention have designated the largest portion of their in-state budget to evangelism and missions, giving $4.5 million to those specific gospel tasks in 2015, they desire to do more.
The annual Reach Texas Missions Offering provides the opportunity to do just that, inviting churches to band together in Cooperative Program fashion to give another $1 million-plus toward reaching the lost in Texas. Of money given through the September offering, 100 percent goes directly toward mission and evangelism efforts in the state.
SBTC Church Planting Lead Associate David Alexander says the yearly missions offering plays a crucial role in reaching the Lone Star State.
“More people groups live in Texas than anywhere else in North America,” Alexander says.
In fact, reports indicate that 16 percent of Texans are foreign born, and 35 percent speak a language besides English at home. More Muslims live in Texas than in any other state, worshipping in some 170 mosques—the largest one in the U.S. to be fully constructed by March 2016 near Houston. The 75038 zip code in Irving is the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the entire country.
The growth and diversification of Texas has brought the foreign mission field to North America, and the Reach Texas Offering helps fund Texans’ efforts on that field, Alexander says.
“One-hundred percent of the offering is used to help the SBTC churches reach international people groups, mobilize teams of people to creatively impact their communities and start new churches in Texas. The focus is resourcing SBTC churches in their missional kingdom work in Texas.”
Houston’s First Baptist Church Pastor Greg Matte, whose city is now more ethnically diverse than New York City, said in a video message to fellow Texans that, in essence, state missions is now world missions thanks to the influx of global peoples to Texas.
“God has brought the world to our city,” Matte said. “And we want to bring Jesus to our city.”
Houston church planter Chris Bradford says the Reach Texas Offering coupled with the way Southern Baptists of Texas give on a continual basis through the Cooperative Program makes an enormous impact in his church’s ability to minister in South Texas.
“[The SBTC] lovingly and gracefully came alongside me and helped me start this church and financially helped us get started,” said Bradford, who leads Pathway Church in Mont Belvieu. “To be honest with you, it’s churches just like you guys—the SBTC and churches that are alongside partnering with us—that have helped us come to the east side of Houston and reach people for Christ. And so, Pathway Church [has] been effectively doing that for the last year—leading people down the pathway to real life. That’s what we’re here for. So I want to thank you for giving to the Cooperative Program and the Reach Texas Mission Offering.”
This year, the week of prayer emphasis for the Reach Texas Offering runs Sept. 20-27. The goal for the offering is set at $1.3 million, with videos, posters and bulletin inserts available online at sbtexas.com/missions/reach-texas-offering.