To say that missions giving has become a priority for the members of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Sheridan would be an understatement.
Under the leadership of pastor Michael Daugherty, the Arkansas church has seen its missions budget grow from $36,350 in 2018 to $108,900 in 2021. In that same time span, the church has increased their Cooperative Program percentage from 2.5% to 11% with the goal of reaching 15%.
In addition to increasing their missions budget, the church has also increased their giving to the Dixie Jackson, Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon missions offerings. Daugherty provided the attached chart to illustrate the increase in giving to the special offerings over the last four years.
At the end of 2020, the church had a surplus in their yearly budget giving. They voted to take 50% of the surplus and divide that money up among their missions partnerships. So, in January of 2021, FBC Sheridan wrote a check for an additional $17,119.92 to state missions (Dixie Jackson), $20,432.43 to national missions (Annie Armstrong), and $37,913.46 to international missions (Lottie Moon).
“FBC Sheridan has decided that we are not going to be an earthly investment firm but a Kingdom-investing church,” Daugherty said. He is proud of the church’s response and says they should all be excited about the potential to do even more for the sake of the Gospel in the future.
‘Necessary and urgent’
Daugherty is a firm believer in the Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention’s giving channel for missions and ministry, and in cooperative missions in general. His family has made a personal commitment to give 10% of any missions goal that the church sets. As pastor, he has made it a priority to lead the church to commit to giving as well.
“When I got called by God to full-time ministry, I thought I was going overseas with the [the International Mission Board],” he said. “I love what we do as a convention because our missionaries don’t have to raise support, we fully support those who are called by God and approved by our IMB to go. When God called me to pastor, He laid on my heart the necessity and urgency of using whatever influence He gives me to lead His people to give.”
This increased focus on missions giving did not just happen accidentally or overnight. One of the keys to FBC Sheridan’s growth in giving has been education. During each offering season, the church spends time in its worship service providing education on the need to give to support state, North American and international missions. They show several of the videos each convention entity produces.
‘It’s all God’s anyway’
Daugherty said the church decided to set a target for the 2021 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering rather than setting a goal. He reminded the church that in recent years, the IMB had to downsize its missions force from over 5,000 to 3,500.
“As part of God calling me to the pastorate, God told me ‘Michael, we won’t have missionaries over there if we don’t get things right here.’ Shame on us if we ever have to bring more missionaries off the field because we didn’t give enough… An IMB missionary who spoke here in 2018 told us it takes about $66,000 to keep the average missionary unit on the field. We have over 100 family units in our church. Can 100 families not support one missionary unit?” he said.
So, Daugherty challenged the church to a target of $66,000. “We’re calling it a target because I don’t want to attach a date to the amount. I don’t know when we will reach this target, but I hope it’s sooner rather than later. I hope it’s this year.”
As this year’s week of prayer for international missions began, Daugherty announced to the congregation that they were already 15% of the way to reaching the target. “Will you join us to reach this target together? Will you demonstrate that it’s all God’s anyway? Lives depend on us understanding that we must destroy our idol of self and steward everything of God’s well.”