Fulfilling the Great Commission requires cooperation. None of us, alone, are able to make disciples among all the world’s people groups. Working together, however, I believe the Great Commission can and will be fulfilled.
Baptist churches in Kentucky 176 years ago became convinced they could do more to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ if they partnered together than if they worked in independence and isolation. Thus they formed an association that would later be known as the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Today, the KBC represents a partnership of 2,400 churches. Most of those churches are also committed to partnering with the broader Southern Baptist Convention family of churches. Altogether, that cooperative body represents more than 45,000 congregations.
During the Christmas season, Kentucky and Southern Baptists are challenged to focus on our partnering efforts to support Great Commission work overseas. Today, more than 3,000 unreached people groups around the world remain unengaged with the gospel.
At the same time, due to a lack of funding, our overseas mission force on assignment through the International Mission Board of the SBC remains in an ongoing state of decline. Tragically, with the most recent downsizing, our overseas force will be reduced by nearly 1,500 missionaries in less than a decade. The target number of missionaries the IMB hopes to keep on the field stands at roughly 4,000.
The issue is not that Southern Baptists are too poor to provide for the 5,500-plus overseas missionaries who once worked in the world’s harvest fields. Rather, we are not willing to make the lifestyle sacrifices that would allow us to be, at a minimum, tithers.
If every Southern Baptist simply committed to giving the Lord 10 percent of his or her income, the result would be that church budgets would more than triple, as would the sending capacity of our mission boards in Kentucky, North America, and overseas.
While I hope you will join my family in making a gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year, more importantly, I challenge every Kentucky Baptist to recover the biblical teaching of tithing. Our obedience is at stake and lost souls hang in the balance.
Will you sacrifice so others will have the opportunity to hear the gospel?
Dr. Paul Chitwood is the executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.