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INDIANAPOLIS (BP) -- When an Indiana pastor asked his small congregation to set a sacrificial goal for their Lottie Moon offering, he never expected this. A goal of $500 would have been a challenge for Iglesia Bautista Hispana El Calvario, but they set a seemingly impossible goal of $10,000. People of every age contributed sacrificially. Some worked a second job for a month and gave those earnings. One lady gave two weeks of paychecks. Kids, retirees, even unemployed folks found creative ways to give. That awesome little church collected over $10,000 for our international missions.
What's Lottie Moon? It's a critical piece of our Southern Baptist plan for sharing Christ with our world. This annual Christmas offering supports more than half of the International Mission Board's (IMB) budget, and each church sets its own offering goal. Here's a few goal-setting ideas you may like:
-- 4,800 quarters. Southern Baptists currently send and support more than 4,800 international missionaries. Why not challenge your church to give a quarter -- 25 cents -- for every missionary: 25 cents X 4,800 missionaries = $1,200 goal. If that's not a sacrificial goal for your church, aim for $1 per missionary ($4,800) or $10 per missionary ($48,000 goal), or more. Set a huge, God-sized goal!
-- Announce the goal. Post it prominently around the church. Print it in bulletins and newsletters, on the website and Facebook page. Be sure every member knows the goal and the challenge to contribute sacrificially. Use excellent, free promotion materials from imb.org.
-- 4,800 paper dolls. Measure progress visually. Create a chain of 4,800 paper dolls. For simple instructions to make accordion-fold paper dolls, ask any grandma or check youtube.com. Size the dolls so 4,800 will encircle the worship center when the goal is reached. Add dolls weekly to show progress toward the goal. If your goal is $1 per missionary, you'll add a doll for every dollar contributed.
-- Celebrate weekly. Distribute weekly progress reports to Bible classes. Post updates on the website. Email it. Do biweekly Facebook updates. Tell stories of sacrificial giving. Celebrate milestones. Example: The youth group could conduct a missions garage sale; a youth leader could present the money, and teens could add dolls to the wall and then lead prayer for missionaries.
Take it seriously. Make it fun. Will your church joyfully make its 2011 Lottie Moon offering the best yet?
Diana Davis (www.keeponshining.com) is an author, speaker and wife of the North American Mission Board's vice president for the Midwest region, Steve Davis. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).