In the 1950’s and 1960’s, our family of ministries was quite small. There was the local church which was often part of an association of churches that related to the denomination that had a relationship with the Baptist Federation of Canada and Canadian Baptist Overseas Mission Board. This family of ministries has expanded, and over the years, many new groups have left the umbrella of combined fundraising and have reached out to individuals and churches to request money for their work. During the post-second world war years, many outstanding groups have been formed which have encouraged the local church, enabled people to come to faith, and sought for mercy and justice, amongst so many other things. I’m going to give you some of the more notable ones in a burst of naming if you like: The Seeds, World Vision, Alpha, Inter-Varsity, Billy Graham, Union Gospel Mission, Just Work, Just Potters, etc., various private foundations, Regent College, A Rocha, Missions Fest, Operation Eyesight, Kinbrace House, and if you are from Central Canada, Yonge Street Mission… and many more.
At various times over the last twenty years, several ministries in our CBWC family have begun to ask individuals and churches directly for funds. They are an effective and noble list of which I am proud to be associated with:
- Sharing Way
- Step Churches
- Camps (all 7 of our camps)
- Carey Centre
- CBWC Foundation
- Legacy for Ministry
- Century II
What has been missing from this family that asks for individual financial support, (as if you could imagine someone missing at the dinner table), is the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. Since 1996, when church contributions in real terms remained the same until now, we have had over $600,000 less in income to support an ever-increasing number of churches, resources, church planting, and a whole host of ministries. In real dollars, we are providing more resources with less money. That, in general, is a good thing. In the short term, it is also a good thing. I believe in fiscal conservatism, collective and private partnerships, and in very good value for money, as I know many of you do. In 2010 – 2011, we cut 23% from our budget, and we are reducing our draw on the Foundation by $4,000-$5,000 this year. We are joining the other ministries that we have talked about today in inviting individuals to contribute to the resourcing of churches, planting, education, and the building of community (New Pastors Orientation, Assembly, Area and Banff Pastor’s conference, Ministry Network Meetings, and SERVE, which has over 240 youth in Winnipeg this year). We are not able to continue to support churches and regional ministries unless we experience a real encouragement with clear growth and financial contributions.
We have been spending some time in what we call Celebration Dinners, remarking and giving thanks for the faithfulness of God. That story will come out in great, strong emphasis at Assembly this year, and we will continue to have Celebration Dinners in off-Assembly years. We are asking people to participate in regional dinners called Partnerships and Possibilities, but that happens at a local level and gives those who have contributed in the past a chance to support a variety of ministries. You will find an opportunity to contribute on our website, and more significantly as of this coming Friday, an opportunity, indeed… an invitation, to consider monthly pre-authorized contribution. We welcome everything, and are able to receipt amounts beginning at $5 a month.
We were encouraged this year that 59 churches made a contribution is excess of their regularly budgeted amount (as opposed to 41 last year). We are encouraged at stories echoed in so many places of our communications of God’s presence and work amongst us. I want money to be an easier topic to talk about across the West. We can face challenges of growth, limited financial resources, and celebrate the faithfulness of God if we keep on articulating them to one another. There are some exciting stories about courageous church and individual contributions that we will speak of later. Thank you for your willingness to read this, pray about the wider work, and if so prompted, contribute financially.