Giving to Reach Texas Offering strong

Despite economic pressures, churches have been faithful in giving through the Reach Texas State Missions Offering during the 2010-11 giving year.

As the giving year closed, the SBTC looked like it would fall just shy of the $1.1 million Reach Texas goal. But SBTC Missions Director Terry Coy sees that as a success considering tighter home and church budgets, he said.

“People and churches have been incredibly generous,” Coy said. “Your missions team thanks you, your church planters thank you, disaster relief thanks you. … Every ministry that benefits from this is thankful for the giving hearts of Texas Southern Baptists.”

September begins a new giving year, with the week of Sept. 18-25 designated as a “Week of Prayer and Emphasis” for the Reach Texas Offering. The 2011-12 goal is again $1.1 million. The theme is “Life in the Big City,” emphasizing the unreached urban populations of Texas. Coy noted the offering is used in urban and rural settings and across multiple Texas subcultures.

Like most Southern Baptist-related state conventions, the SBTC uses its state missions offering to supplement the Cooperative Program (CP), the unified missions funding mechanism of Southern Baptists. Every dollar received through Reach Texas goes to the field because CP underwrites administrative costs.

Of every dollar given through Reach Texas, 75 cents goes to missions endeavors, including church planting and related training, and 25 cents to evangelism endeavors, to help reach an increasingly diverse state where more non-Christians are living.

The missions category includes church planter support, Texas people group missionaries, disaster relief, collegiate missions, and missions mobilization. Evangelism entails publication of new resources, evangelism training and events, student evangelism initiatives, and the annual Empower Evangelism Conference.

“The Reach Texas Offering is vitally important because undergirds the core ministries of the SBTC—the planting of churches, missions mobilization, evangelism,” Coy said.

Promotional material for churches may be downloaded at sbtexas.com/reachtexas. Video testimonies, posters in English and Spanish, a weeklong Reach Texas devotional, Sunday School lessons for preschool through adult ages, and the Reach Texas brochure, may be found there.

Homer Hawthorne, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Travis in Fort Worth, is featured in one of four video testimonies, and also in the Reach Texas brochure. Hawthorne, who along with his wife Sharon retired from the International Mission Board after serving in Brazil, Belize and Mexico, is not your typical church planter.

In retirement, he was called to plant a church through Travis Avenue Baptist Church that would reach the urban, Hispanic population that has grown up around Travis Avenue Baptist. Travis Avenue has begun Hispanic ministries in the past, but its vision for Primera Iglesia Bautista de Travis is to become a multiplying church, training Spanish-speaking pastors to plant other churches.

One of the things Hawthorne asks of new believers is to begin praying by name for 10 or 15 family members or friends who need Jesus.

“One of the most important things in church planting is equipping them and giving them a vision that it’s not the pastor who is supposed to do evangelism and discipleship; it’s the members,” Hawthorne said. “And it’s our job as the pastors and church planters to equip the membership, because it’s then that they begin to grow and reach others for Christ.”

Also featured in video testimonies is David Smith, director of missions in Austin Baptist Association, talking about the explosive and diverse growth in metropolitan Austin, which now has a population of about 1.7 million. Other videos feature the mosaic of ethnicities now in Texas, the ministry of Keystone Community Outreach in urban Fort Worth, and the challenges of ministry in the burgeoning Houston area.

Churches may also order promotional materials by calling Carmella Mechling in the SBTC missions office toll-free at 877-953-7282 (SBTC) or by e-mailing her: cmechling@sbtexas.com.

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