Southern Baptists get a lot of bad press in the secular world and to be honest, we deserve it at times.
But the fact is, Southern Baptists do a lot of good things that often go unnoticed, such as disaster relief that brings hope to hurting people affected by tragedy, compassion ministries that provided needed help in local communities through food pantries and clothes closets and much, much more.
And, while Southern Baptists get irritated with what they read about what some Southern Baptists do or say, keep in mind that Southern Baptists are still the largest missions-sending agency in the world. We take the Great Commission seriously.
In Tennessee, Baptists are making Christ known through their local churches and Baptist associations and the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Our gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions helps reach the nearly 70 percent of people in Tennessee who do not know Christ.
Our Cooperative Program giving also funds missionaries around the nation and the world who are committed to sharing the gospel with those who have not yet heard the good news of Jesus Christ.
One ministry that often goes unnoticed, however, is ministered through GuideStone Financial Services. Mission:Dignity may be one of the best kept secrets in our denomination, but it is a ministry that is desperately needed and should be celebrated and supported.
Mission:Dignity provides a monthly stipend to individuals 65 or over who (a) were employed by or otherwise served local Baptist churches in a paid ministry (such as a full-time evangelist) for at least 10 years and (b) whose monthly income falls at or below the current poverty level as established by the federal government. (Click HERE for more about who qualifies for Mission:Dignity. Also, click HERE for a related story).
I was raised in a small rural Baptist church in Travelers Rest, S.C., that is very similar to many churches in Tennessee. Our church, at times, could barely afford to pay the pastor a sustainable wage.
Many churches today face similar challenges.
One thing our church did to help (at the time) is that we provided a parsonage.
In hindsight, that may have not been the best option for the pastor and his family because they were unable to purchase a home and gain equity in a house. Our church did its best to support our pastors but there was little or nothing left for retirement plans or other benefits.
The Bible reminds us that “the laborer is worthy of his wages.” Too often, Christians in general and Baptists in particular apparently think that verse does not apply to pastors/ministers. It does. We have a responsibility to provide for those God calls to serve in our churches.
Some ministers move on to larger churches that can afford to provide help for retirement, but many pastors are called by God to serve small churches throughout their ministry and are unable to save for retirement.
That is why Mission:Dignity is so important. This ministry helps some of God’s choice servants be able to afford the prescription needed to maintain their health or buy enough food to last through the month.
I encourage Tennessee Baptists to support Mission:Dignity. Not only will you bless faithful servants who have given their lives to sharing the gospel story, you will be blessed yourselves. B&R