Southern Baptist churches gave three percent more to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions in 2011 than they did in 2010.That sounds like a big number at first blush. Fifty-six million dollars, all of it going to support missionaries! Hang on a second...
For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the offering totaled $56,040,868.
It comes to about $1200/ SBC church. For some churches that would be a lot of money but even for a small church that is a fraction of their operating costs. When you look at some of the really big SBC churches and examine their budgets that number sounds less impressive. When you compare that figure to the real estate holdings in the SBC of over $40,000,000,000 or an average of over $1,000,000 per church, it really should be sobering. A denomination ostensibly founded in part for the purpose of supporting missionary that gives such a paltry amount to missions is cause for some serious soul searching, not celebration.
The bigger issue is that in spite of the "Great Commission Resurgence", the Southern Baptist Convention and most other traditional churches are still not very focused on reaching the lost. That may sound like a harsh indictment but given the reality that outside of baptizing children of believers and adding new "members" from other churches, many (most) evangelical churches are primarily inwardly focused on the operations of their own organization far more than they are on reaching the lost.
The gathering of the church is vitally important but it is not important for its own sake. It is important because of the equipping and encouraging that is supposed to go on. If all we do week after week is listen to sermons and sing a few songs but never mature beyond knowing a few new tidbits about a passage of Scripture gleaned from the sermon and Sunday school, frankly we are wasting our time and might as well stay home. A church that doesn't see those who gather there on a regular basis being equipped, released and engaged in mission is failing. I don't care how many people are on the membership roll. I don't care how big their budget is or how famous their pastor. If rank and file Christians are not reaching the lost and caring for the poor because they are not being equipped to do so on Sundays, the church that they gather at should be closed down, the property sold and the proceeds given to those who will take the Gospel to the world. We simply cannot afford more palatial manmade temples that put on a religious show but do little other than spoon feed the sheep. We need gatherings that are Gospel cannons firing equipped believers into the world. The field is far too white and the laborers are far too few for us to do anything else.