By Randy C. Davis
TBC Executive Director
I can imagine W.C. and Mildred Golden sitting at a candlelit table over 114 years ago working tirelessly to write letter after letter to Tennessee Baptists. The flicker of light probably danced across the materials spread out before them waiting to be slid into an envelope and sent out with the following day’s mail.
The Goldens wrote hundreds of letters and mailed hundreds of packages containing promotional materials calling Tennessee Baptists to pray for Great Commission work across our state. Can you imagine being so passionate about accomplishing a God-sized vision that you’d be willing to do whatever it took to see the task through? There were no typewriters, no computers, no Facebook accounts or Twitter feeds; just a desire to mobilize Tennessee Baptists to see God’s Kingdom come to Tennessee.
For the following 10 years, this dynamic couple committed themselves to reaching our state for Jesus Christ. In a message delivered on Feb. 2, 1896, Dr. Golden, former state secretary of the Tennessee Baptist Convention and namesake of the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions, said, “Those who do nothing will soon be doing worse than nothing”.
These many years later, I agree with my esteemed predecessor, and repeat the challenge to today’s generation of Tennessee Baptists. “Those who do nothing will soon be doing worse than nothing.”
For the past couple of months I’ve been writing about the Five Objectives that will guide the work and ministries of the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s Executive Board. The Five Objectives are divided into three “reaching” objectives and two “resourcing” objectives. The three reaching objectives are: Seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship by 2024; having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024; and planting and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches by 2024.
They are big objectives because we as Tennessee Baptists have never come close to accomplishing these types of spiritual goals. However, as one theologian put it in relation to bringing glory to God’s name, “Ambitions for God can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God.” And so we move expectantly into the future with big ambitions for God, confident in His ability to spiritually transform our state.
But we also know to reach Tennessee with the gospel takes the financial resources to get the gospel to where it needs to be. That’s why the Cooperative Program and the Golden Offering are so vital. They are our primary means for resources our “reaching” objectives.
Our hope is that we’ll realize an increase in annual local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024 and that we’ll realize an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024.
More than half of the funds received through the Golden Offering are invested in church revitalization and church planting. The Golden Offering is also used to reach underserved people groups and meeting human needs across the state with the goal of introducing people to Jesus Christ. Often this is through disaster relief. If you were to look at the demographics of those reached through our ministry opportunities, most would never step through the doors of our churches. Somebody has to go to where they are.
Think about the Golden Offering this way. Southern Baptists give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions and to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions. The Golden Offering is in the same vein, but for Tennessee missions.
Our goal for the Golden Offering is simple: We hope that giving to the Golden Offering will have almost doubled by 2024. That means from its current $1.5 million dollar goal to more than $3 million. Whether it is during the special September time of prayer when the offering is received, a church budget line-item allocation, or by individuals giving directly, our prayer is that this offering grows way beyond what it presently is for the purpose of reaching our state for Jesus.
And we are encouraged!
While we regret to see offerings like Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong, and Cooperative Program giving remain flat during this last fiscal year, giving through the Golden Offering to accomplish Great Commission work right here in our own state grew by over five percent. It is also off to an incredible start this year.
Tennessee Baptists have always risen to the occasion when challenged to embrace the pioneering spirit of our spiritual forefathers. The Goldens knew they would because they knew Tennessee Baptists wanted to see Christ exalted in the lives of their friends and neighbors.
I believe the same all these years later. The means to communicate the need may have changed, but fundamentally the need remains the same. We need Tennessee Baptists to rise to the occasion and support the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions for the purpose of seeing Christ exalted in the lives of their friends and neighbors.