The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions is nigh upon us and our North American Mission Board’s key collection, it provides over 40% of their budget, is sharply down for 2010.
Last year the churches gave $54.3 million, down from $56.6 million in 2009. The decline was expected, I suppose. The goal for last year was $70 million, same goal this year.
One wonders when a goal becomes a completely meaningless figure. The offering was $2.4 million under goal in 2008, $8.4 million in 2009, and a staggering $15.7 million under in 2010. It doesn't cost anything to set a goal but are we challenging the churches or mocking them? Is it defeatist to reduce a goal? I’d be satisfied with realistic goals. Sure, NAMB rarely meets their goals but they have never been so far short of them.
Goals aside, will the offering increase? I would like to predict an increase but I get the sense from reading the tea leaves that this will be a more difficult year financially for churches and receipts will fall. Hope I'm wrong.
This AA offering will be Kevin Ezell’s first as head of NAMB. He earlier stated that he didn’t see why Southern Baptists couldn’t give $100 million if the agency offered a “compelling vision and effective strategy.”
It's fair enough to visualize far more and better things than we have now. NAMB trustees’ grand experiment in bringing in an individual with a record of nonsupport to head Southern Baptist’s number two entity will have a measurable outcome beginning sometime this summer. I suspect that most churches aren't too focused on the CEO's past record and will give based on economic realities.
As for the “compelling vision and effective strategy,” we will get to see the latter part in a couple of weeks, Ezell says. Indications about the new strategy don’t show anything new to me. Perhaps the compelling part will be in the details.
In my church we will, as we have for scores of years, support the AA Easter Offering, though not as vigorously as we do the Lottie Moon offering for the International Mission Board.
Unrealistic goal aside, if NAMB can demonstrate better stewardship, better leadership, and better prioritizing of their tasks, I will be willing to be more agressive in financially supporting them.
More Annie Armstrong facts:
Since 2000, the offering totals have been less than the previous year five times, including the last three – 2008, 2009, 2010. From 1933 to 2000 the offering declined only five of those 68 years. Now, five of the past ten. Times are tough.
The offering goal has been reduced from the previous year only five times since 1933, the last in 1998. Might be time to reassess reality here.
The offering has declined at an increasing rate since 2007. Down 2.2% in 2008, 2.6% in 2009, and 4.1% in 2010. From the halcyon year 2007, largest ever offering, the offering has declined almost 8.7%, over $5m.
Just to stop the rate of decrease would be a success for Kevin Ezell and NAMB.
[I thank Mike Ebert from NAMB for the Excel chart on historic goals and giving.]