This month, we grapple with the riddle of how to increase resources for statewide, national, and international missions.
My small grandchildren enjoy watching “Blue’s Clues” on TV. The
youthful host and his preschool viewers, with the help of the “Handy
Dandy Notebook,” solve riddles by deciphering the rather obvious clues
left by the faithful dog “Blue.” Thus, the name of the show.
In recent days, we have been analyzing clues to solve the www riddle
(not world wide web but world wide witness). We are trying to
fulfill the strategy Jesus gave in Acts 1:8. How can that be done?
We’ve noted that Southern Baptists discovered one clue over 80 years
ago called cooperative missions giving. The creation of the Cooperative
Program has allowed our churches to experience great advance in world
wide witness. Through the Cooperative Program, we are able to share the
gospel everywhere all the time at the same time.
The next riddle we studied concerned how to expand our mission reach
from Louisiana to the ends of the earth. We found a clue in a strategy
called the “CP Advance Plan” (see last month’s article) which will move
fully 50 percent of all future CP increases to our national and
international Southern Baptist missions.
This month, we grapple with the riddle of how to increase resources for
statewide, national, and international missions. The father of the
modern missionary movement, William Carey, told the churches of his day
that he would descend into the well of foreign missions if they would
hold the rope. The clue to successful www support is local churches
continuing to hold the rope.
Let me see if you are as startled by these facts as I am. During the
last 20-year period, 97 percent of all increases in total
congregational contributions have been spent on local congregational
needs. Only 3 percent has been distributed to any kind of mission
outside the local congregation. The net result for Southern Baptists
has been a drastic reduction (17 percent in 1984 to 11 percent in 2004)
in the percentage of congregational gifts spent on any kind of
A significant clue for unraveling the riddle of flattening mission
resources lies in this local versus missional percentage ratio. If we
are to be serious about the challenge to expand our witness from
“Jerusalem” to “the ends of the earth,” we must reverse this decline.
Therefore, I am challenging Southern Baptist churches in Louisiana to
commit to being 80/20 churches. This means, out of all congregational
contributions (undesignated and designated), at least 20 percent will
be assigned outside local congregational ministries. The goal is to
move the total mission expenditure percentage, which has dropped from
17 percent to 11 percent, back toward 20 percent.
I know the Bible doesn’t say anything about an 80/20 plan, and I am not
trying to set a new legal standard. I am hoping to challenge all of us
to look beyond ourselves to the whole world.
Are you an 80/20 church? Let’s do the math.
1) Add the total of your annual undesignated gifts (general budget) to
the total of your designated gifts (mission offerings, special
offerings, etc. For the 80/20 calculation, do not include one-time
bequests from wills or capital campaigns like TWB). The sum is
your total contributions.
2) Add the total of all budgeted mission expenditures (CP,
associational missions, youth mission trip, etc.) to the total of all
designated mission expenditures (Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, Georgia
Barnette, short term mission projects, etc.). The sum is your
total mission expenditures.
3) Divide the total mission expenditures by the total contributions. If
the result is at least 20 percent, you are an 80/20 church. If the
result is less than 20 percent, pray about a strategy for your
congregation to move more resources out to the world.
To assist you with the calculation process, go to
Follow the simple instructions and determine if your church is an 80/20
Some will ask, “How can we move more resources out to the world when we
have so many financial challenges in our local church
ministries?” That’s next month’s riddle. Watch for the clue.
David R. Hankins is executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.