I’m glad to have the opportunity to share with the churches some of the good things and also some of the disappointing things that have been happening in our Association over the past 12 months or so especially with regard to the Home Mission Fund (HMF).
We began the year 2017 with quite a lot of gloom about whether the level of giving to Home Mission Fund would keep up with our need for funds both for supporting mission in our area and for running the Association. As the year progressed, the level of giving month by month did keep up with our needs as the churches of our Association – and some individuals – increased their giving even though the economic climate continued to be on the negative side as it has been since 2008. Thanks be to God for that!
The total giving from the churches in our Association rose from £338,947 in 2016 to £341,231 in 2017, an increase of 0.67%. It had been decided that the cut-off date for all giving to HMF would be strictly 31 December 2017. Had the books been kept open into the first week or two of 2018 as was normal in the past, the giving total would have been nearer to £350,000. Thanks be to God for that!
Some friends have a misunderstanding that the funds received prop up ‘failing churches’. Funds are used to support ministry in churches and pioneering situations and there are some exciting stories of growth in these places. Funds are used to provide our Regional Ministers and there is also a contribution for the support we receive from Baptists Together.
Since I have been the Association Treasurer, I have tried to encourage churches to think about mission in line with the commitment that the Association has made to you that our aim is to stimulate and assist the regions churches in their God-given task of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We must not allow finance to hold us back from mission.
God has given us the resources that we need to make Christ known. We must not hold on tightly to them, building large reserves for no reason. Yes, we must be prudent and careful with what we have, but I believe that our aim should be to stimulate and support visionary thinking by making funds available to viable projects as and when we can.
I am so pleased to be able to tell you that in 2017 we made Grants to the churches in our Association of £370,000, a significant increase on the £225,000 given in 2016. This is a strong sign of the good things that are going on in our Association. Thanks be to God for that!
Now the disappointment to share with you. Nine of our churches which usually give to Home Mission did not give in 2017; there were 17 churches that didn’t give and very rarely if ever do; and there were 7 churches that didn’t give and we are not aware of a reason. A total of 33 churches that did not give in 2017.
There may be very good reasons why some were unable to give and I understand that. It may be that some have delayed a contribution until 2018, I understand that. But please, if you are a member of one of those churches that did not give last year, encourage your leaders to do something about it so that you can be a part of the mission that we, together, have the responsibility for in the Heart of England.
This year our target for Home Mission giving is £360,000. Monthly or quarterly giving by standing order would help a lot. Wouldn’t it be amazing if, with gifts from all the churches, whether large or small, we could achieve it. In anticipation – Thanks be to God!