Around Christmas time, does your family have traditions? Our family watches the movies Elf & It's a Wonderful Life, bakes cookies, takes a vacation, and reminds ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas by reading Old & New Testament Scriptures about Christ's first advent to this earth.
Tevye and his family in the movie Fiddler on the Roof struggled with "Tradition." The daughters wanting to break the old social and religious traditions without breaking their "Papa."
Since the Christmas of 1887, Southern Baptists have been giving a special offering to make sure the gospel gets told around the world. The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO), as it became known later, has now become a tradition in our churches. Some traditions should never be broken!
As Southern Baptist missionaries, people ask us what the LMCO means to us. Legacy is the first word that comes to our minds. The way Lottie Moon lived; as a pioneer and as an evangelist (sometimes going to over 400 villages a year to share the gospel) and the way Lottie Moon died; giving her food away to Chinese until she herself died of starvation. This legacy pushes us on when sometimes we want to quit.
When we think of the LMCO, we also think of Commitment. Since that first offering in 1887 where Lottie Moon challenged Southern Baptists to "self denial," more money has been given through this offering than any other mission offering in the history of the church.
We also think of Cooperation; the mega-church and the small country church joining together to send out and support almost 5000 long-term missionaries worldwide. Some pastors with much zeal (and sometimes much ego) are "giving the Great Commission back to the church," believing that agencies (imb) are unnecessary and unbiblical. This narrow view is a misapplication of Scripture and a misunderstanding of mission history.
Some traditions should never be broken! May we, as Southern Baptists, continue to remember our legacy as a mission people, re-commit ourselves to a life of self-denial for the sake of the nations, and work together to place more long-term missionaries among peoples where the gospel is not.
Keep the tradition alive!
-Jess & Wendy