By Randy C. Davis
TBC Executive Director
When Eric Watkins strides into one of the most dangerous housing projects in Memphis to take the light of Christ, Tennessee Baptists go with him. When Kent Hightower stands in the loose dirt of a rodeo arena in Morristown and preaches the gospel, Tennessee Baptists are with him. When Doylene and Ritchie Farley distribute food to hundreds of families in one of Tennessee’s most impoverished counties, Tennessee Baptists are there too.
Tennessee Baptists financially giving through the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions are fueling the missions fires across our state. From the inner city of Memphis, to the hills and hollows of Middle and East Tennessee, to Baptist Collegiate Ministries on 24 campuses across our state, Tennessee Baptists — you — are touching lives with the love of Christ and making an eternal difference. In fact, during the 2014-2015 year you gave the second highest GOTM amount ever recorded, totaling $1,626,579.33! And that is just a little more than $23,000 short of our goal for the year. That’s an increase each of the past two years.
From the deepest chambers of my pastor’s heart and with immense gratitude, I say, “Thank you.”
For those who may not know, the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions is how Tennessee Baptists support a broad diversity of missions work here in our state. The GOTM is to Tennessee what the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is to international missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering is to North American missions, and every cent of that offering goes to reach Tennessee for Christ. The offering is named for W. C. and Mildred Golden. Mr. Golden was a former executive director of the TBC and he and Mrs. Golden would hand write letters to churches asking them to make a special offering to support an in-state missions effort to address the state’s deep spiritual needs.
Now, more than 100 years since the Golden’s felt compelled to call Tennessee Baptists to action, your participation is needed more than ever — and you are responding. As you may know, seeing the Golden Offering increasing to $3 million annually by 2024 is the Fifth of the Five Objectives strategy we as Tennessee Baptists have affirmed. Why such a lofty goal? Looking at our first three objectives you’ll see that we as Tennessee Baptists are focusing on seeing an increase in evangelism, baptism, discipleship, revitalized churches, and new churches affiliating with the TBC. These we call our “reaching objectives.” Cooperative Program and GOTM giving are our “resourcing objectives.”
But why focus on these Great Commission areas? Truth is our state is growing more spiritually lost by the day. People often think of Tennessee as the Buckle of the Bible Belt. We are anything but. More than six out of 10 people in our state currently have no relationship with Jesus Christ and eight out of 10 are in no one’s church on Sundays. If trends continue, statistically nine out of 10 of our children born since 9/11 will grow to adulthood spiritually lost. Across Tennessee, 91 of 95 counties experience double-digit poverty and all the issues related to poverty such as low graduation rates, high teen pregnancy rates, high unemployment, and high drug use. One out of every four children in our state lives in an extreme poverty situation. Unbelievably, there are more than 140 different global people groups now living in Tennessee, 46 from groups that are less than two percent globally evangelized.
No doubt, any way you slice it, Tennessee is a missions field.
When you support the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions (and the Cooperative Program), you are supporting our network of TBC missions and ministry opportunities that directly attack these great spiritual and physical needs. We direct your offerings to the most desperate situations across our state. It is my privilege to report that together we are making a difference.
I mentioned Eric and Kent, Doylene and Ritchie, but the stories of how your giving is making a difference go on and on. I invite you to visit GoldenOffering.com and watch the video stories of how your giving last year has already made a difference in people’s lives. While there, check out the other available resources to support your church’s Week of Prayer emphasis coming up Sept. 13-20.
Let’s be bold — and audacious — and aim for a 10 percent increase for 2015-2016. I have no doubt your sacrificial giving this year will reap an eternal reward that I look forward to reporting to you this time next year.
It is truly a joy to be on this journey with you.