Where does the mission field begin? I believe the mission field is everywhere one finds oneself.
Californians live in one of the most exciting mission fields in the world. It is a place where many of our nation's cultural changes begin. California has had many great spiritual movements (the Azusa Revival and the Jesus Movement) and influential spiritual leaders (John Maxwell, Rick Warren and Chuck Swindoll) who have impacted our state, nation and world.
California's spiritual landscape often is viewed as a challenge instead of the great opportunity it is. Many are willing to travel thousands of miles around the world to share the gospel, yet they are unwilling to share Christ in their own communities. With the events taking place around us - broken homes, divorce, crime, hunger, etc. - it is easy to seek a quiet place and detach ourselves.
However, I believe Christ wants California Southern Baptists to be in the center of the battle for the souls of those with whom we come in contact. We cannot win our state or the world by retreating into a "safe zone." God has called us to be His witnesses in the world, beginning here in California. I am as excited now as I have ever been about reaching the world in California.
One of the ways California Southern Baptists and the almost 2,100 churches in our Convention can accomplish this goal is through the California Mission Offering. This prayer and giving emphasis enables mission projects through our churches and associations to reach the lost.
Because of your prayers and gifts to the California Mission Offering, we will continue to touch the lives of Californians through:
- starting churches among more than 70 ethnic, language and culture groups,
- providing family ministries at Lake Tahoe,
- training for church members to provide literacy missions in local communities,
- hunger ministries to California communities through churches and associations,
- evangelism projects throughout communities in our state,
- disaster relief ministries,
- associational projects,
- scholarships for bachelor of applied theology students at California Baptist University.
Wouldn't it be great if we would at least double our $450,000 statewide goal? I believe California Southern Baptists can give $1 million to reach our state for Christ! If 1,000 churches and/or individuals give $1,000 it can happen. In 2008, only 375, or 18 percent of CSBC churches, gave to the offering. Gifts received ranged from $5 to $25,000. In 2008 almost 75 percent of the churches participating contributed less than $1,000 of the $417,000 that was given. I believe this illustrates the principle that we can do more together than any one entity could do alone.
Because of these statistics, I challenge California Southern Baptists to more than double the number of churches participating in CMO in 2009. If your congregation has never observed the offering, participate in the prayer and offering this September by challenging members to give at least $1,000. If your church has observed the offering but has never raised at least $1,000, I challenge you to do so this year.
God is calling us to do more to share the gospel with our neighborhoods, communities, cities and towns. My challenge for our convention of churches is to pray for, give to and go on mission to tell every man, woman, boy and girl in California about Jesus. I believe we can do this by doing what John exhorted us to do in I John 3:18 - "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
2009 CMO Resource packets have been mailed to each church. I encourage you to look at it carefully and to order materials to conduct a CMO observance in your congregation this fall. The CMO Website, www.calmissions.com, also is filled with information to help churches in educating and promoting the mission offering.
California Southern Baptists are called to show their "Love With Action." Let's do it for the glory of our Heavenly Father!