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Decatur church meets LMCO goal in one daycomment (0)

January 6, 2005

By Martine G. Bates

One by one, the entire congregation filed past the manger at the front of the church. Elderly people shuffled past slowly, while young children pranced in eager anticipation. Some dropped in pennies, nickels and dimes. Others placed much larger amounts in the empty manger. Some merely stopped briefly for a prayer. 
At the end of the service, Central Baptist Church, Decatur, had collected more than $100,000 for the Pastor Rob Jackson explained, “Last year, the goal was $70,000, which is a pretty ambitious goal for a church our size (Sunday School enrollment of 1,500, average worship attendance of 700), and we surpassed it. The missions committee wanted to raise the goal to $90,000. After talking to [IMB President] Jerry Rankin, I thought we could make it to $100,000.”
Jackson challenged the missions committee, and they agreed to the goal.
Instead of having the money trickling in through January in an attempt to reach the goal, Jackson suggested that the congregation set aside one day in December for the offering. He had seen his father, also a pastor, use a similar approach.
Jackson wanted to use a manger instead of an offering plate to emphasize the purpose for the offering. Even the young children, Jackson noted, understood that it was Jesus’ manger, and the gifts were for Him.
“We wanted to have every person in the church involved, from the smallest children to the most senior adults,” said Jackson.
The entire church did get involved, as Jackson had hoped, including some whose gifts involved sacrifice.
“One man in the congregation has medical problems and has to buy a lot of medicine. He didn’t have a lot of money. All he had to give was his golf clubs, so he sacrificed his golf clubs. Another family had hardly any money at all. Their little girl had saved pennies. Her grandmother had to lift her up to put her pennies in the manger.”
Jackson believes that the children of the church will be impacted by seeing the goal met. 
“They understand that God used their offerings to push us over the goal. I hope they will see that they have made a difference in the world through their giving. As they grow and understand that, they will become cheerful givers to the kingdom of God,” he said.
But the lessons, according to Jackson, are not just for the children of the church.
“I hope the whole church has seen that God wants His people to attempt through His leading the things that only God can do.”

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