Southern Baptists have clearly communicated their commitment to missions and evangelism in the way they’ve expressed their values and prioritized their giving. The convention allocated $4.5 million of its operating budget to missions and evangelism for 2014—a higher percentage (35.7) than any other budget item.
Yet, Texas churches want to do more. They see the task of winning the lost to Christ as so important, that each year they dig a little deeper to give a little more through a state-wide missions offering. Fittingly, the offering is called the Reach Texas Offering. Its goal is just that: to reach Texas.
For the 2013-2014 year, the convention set a goal of $1.2 million. To date, giving has already exceeded that goal by more than a quarter of a million dollars. Terry Coy, director of missions for the SBTC, says receipts for the Reach Texas Offering have actually been increasing every year for the past four years and that this year’s offering has set a record as the highest in convention history.
Coy says for that, he gives a heartfelt “big thank you” to churches and their members.
“Churches have been generous and faithful to increase giving every year and to give every year,” he said.
The results of that giving are evident in recently produced Reach Texas videos that highlight some of the many missionaries, ministers and ministries made possible by the yearly offering.
(See the videos online or request a copy at sbtexas.com/reachtexas)
The goal for the 2014-2015 offering sets the bar even higher, at $1.3 million. Coy says the elevated goal is in keeping with the continued growth of the population Baptists are trying to reach.
“We’re not keeping up with population growth,” Coy said. “We need to focus on more evangelism and more church planting.”
Both evangelism and church planting are core elements of the Reach Texas Offering. One hundred percent of the money given to the Reach Texas Offering goes straight to evangelism training, disaster relief, church planting, missions mobilization and missions strategies.
This year, the offering is themed “Old New = Mission Field.” Texas is a conglomeration—a constantly melding mixture of the things that create stereotypes as old as the state itself and those that characterize the new face of the Lone Star State. At the intersection of old and new Texas, technology meets oil and gas. Urbanization meets ranching. Barbecue meets sushi.
“The state is changing, and it will continue to change and grow,” Coy said. “More people means a greater mission field.”
The arrival of the “new” Texas has brought with it an audience of people who have simply never heard Christ’s name and many who hail from nations without religious freedom. Both groups—those who don’t know Christ and those who don’t even know of him—need to hear. They need to be reached.
That happens through giving, going and praying.
Alongside the call to a giving thrust each year is the call to concerted prayer—prayer thanking God for drawing the nations to Texas and asking that he raise up bold and faithful witnesses who will share his love across the state. The SBTC has published a devotional guide that churches and individuals can use as a resource as they join the prayer and giving efforts. The devotional prayer guide, along with bulletin inserts, posters, video and offering envelopes, are available at sbtexas.com/reachtexas.