FENTON, MI – Attending high school during the 1970s, I memorized a new combination for my school locker each year. If you rolled the combination incorrectly, the locker would not open. The latch would not release. You would have to roll the combination two to three times and start all over again.
Certain hallways were named after the classmen. There was the freshman hall and the sophomore hall, you get the idea. That is where our lockers were located. During the last two years of high school I dated Jamie, who is now my wife. We moved through the hallways of the school with our bell-bottom jeans, our matching shirts, and euchre cards in our back pockets. Jamie and I graduated in 1976 and 1977, so we shared lockers making it easier to change textbooks in between classes. Life was simple and easy.
I need to let you know, however, that the numbers 50-35-15 have nothing to do with my high school lockers. I just wanted to walk down that memory lane for just a moment before I revealed the meaning behind 50-35-15.
Two Questions - Three Sources
Let me start with two questions. Would you like it if your paycheck depended on three different people? Would you be calm if paying your monthly bills depended on the generosity of three different people? Fifty percent from someone. Thirty-five percent from another. Fifteen percent from another? That is the meaning behind 50-35-15.
In Michigan I work with church planters throughout the state and Ontario. On any given moment, I am working with forty to fifty church planting families. The finances that I use from the North American Mission Board to help church planting families comes from three sources.
Fifty percent comes from a special offering we call the Annie Armstrong Missions Offering or the North American Missions Offering. During one-week each year, churches can request prayer guides, offering envelopes, and media to promote this important offering.
Thirty-five percent comes from the ongoing contributions to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. Two-thirds of the churches within our state give regularly to this offering making this a constant source of useful resources.
Fifteen percent comes from private donors who give over and above the other two offerings. Some people set-up trusts. Others donate a portion of their estate. Some men or women are just good at making money and love to give it away to something eternal like church planting, relief, and evangelism.
What Is Done with Your Contributions?
A lot is done each and every day, throughout our country, with your contributions, but space will only allow me to share two examples.
We help families with normal life experiences. There is another article, in this issue, about three church planting families recently giving birth. The grandparents from two of those families live far away from Michigan. Your gifts are given consistently each month, in the form of monthly supplements, so church planting families can buy food when their relatives come to town. Your gifts bought meals at the hospitals during labor and the early days after the babies’ birth. Your gifts bought diapers. Your gifts purchased approved car seats. You helped families with normal expenses.
We help families in times of crisis. Last year, one of our church planting families experienced a long-term stress. They agonized until they were crushed. As the holidays approached, I knew loneliness would overwhelm them. When I heard they were going to spend time with family in the south, and that travel was going to cost them within their limited budget, I was able to help them with a special gift. Because you gave, this family was able to recover within the arms of their loved ones during the holidays. Your gifts prevented a family from being smothered by their sorrow.
If you find yourself ever asking, “What good am I to God’s Kingdom?” Or “How can I help when I am not a preacher?” Just remember that by giving something during the special offering, or through the Cooperative Program of your church, or through your will that you are making a difference in the lives of church planting families. If you want more information on how to give and how to help just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (734) 770-0608.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.