“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
On Aug. 16, First Baptist Church of Nacogdoches raised $222,000 for ministries in their community and beyond. While this alone is a generous amount, it is even more generous when looked at through the lens of a global pandemic that has left many uncertain about job security and financial hardships.
Pastor Noel Dear explained that this day of giving was a chance for the church to look outside of itself and to help ministries hurting due to COVID-19. By helping these ministries, the church will help individuals in Nacogdoches and beyond receive help and learn about God’s love. Below are some ways Dear and other FBC Nacogdoches leaders encouraged the congregation to get involved in giving.
Look to ministries outside of your church for which to hold an offering. This gives your congregation an exciting, new project to contribute money to. It also encourages the church to act selflessly and give in faith, knowing that the money will likely not benefit them, in any sense.
To pick the ministries, Dear’s team contacted a few organizations that they thought may have had a decrease in donations since the onset of the pandemic. When he heard that the need was great, Dear decided to ask his congregation to go above and beyond to help those ministries.
The nine organizations included North American Mission Board (NAMB), International Mission Board (IMB), a Texas Baptist church plant, local charities and overseas missionaries.
“Just to know that we’re able to take money in and not keep a penny of it and give it to people who have urgent needs– our church was so excited about it.” Dear said.
Announcing a goal to the congregation encourages everyone to participate and work together to accomplish it.
Initially, the church leadership at FBC Nacogdoches came up with a behind-the-scenes goal of $40,000. By the time they announced the plan to the church, they had increased the goal to $100,000.
The official giving day was August 16. Dear wanted a one-day only giving opportunity to encourage people to give what they could. Rather than reducing gifts to other offerings or ministries, Dear encouraged members to sacrificially give above and beyond their normal gifts on this one day.
To Dear, it was the mindset of giving whatever small or large gift you could and everyone contributing that made the day such a success. He emphasized that it was the heart behind the giving, not the monetary amount, that made the gifts so valuable.
FBC Nacogdoches averages 700 people on a Sunday morning. Despite raising over $200,000, Dear said that there were not many large gifts. The rest of the funds were raised by small gifts from the entire congregation. Dear said he even saw college students, who had just come back into town to attend Stephen F. Austin State University, give $5 or $10 in the offering plate.
“At first I wanted to stop them and say, ‘no, no, we don’t need your money,’ but they wanted to give and be a part of it,” he said. “We just have median-income individuals, it’s not a bunch of wealthy people. And I’m sure there are other churches that have people who are ready to give selflessly.”
Once the day is over, celebrate with your congregation! No matter how large or small the amount of money raised is, the church gave above and beyond their normal amount to support ministry. It is a testimony to their faithfulness to God, and it should be recognized with joy.
“Our church is just on cloud nine, they’re so excited about this,” Dear shared. “These are hard times, and I think this offering has given us an enthusiasm and an excitement that we couldn’t have experienced otherwise during this pandemic.”