At Lancaster Second Baptist Church, giving for world missions is ‘personal’

When a church’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering surges from $15,000 to $105,000 in less than a decade, it suggests something is happening that transcends proficient fundraising.

At Second Baptist Church, Lancaster, where about 900 people worship on a given Sunday, bountiful giving for international missions is only part of a broader congregational commitment to share Christ with “anyone living, wherever they may live,” according to executive pastor Nic Natale.

Through hands-on participation in missions, and in keeping with a commitment to be engaged in global missions by “going, sending and supporting,” the people of Lancaster Second Baptist have simply “put their money where their ministry emphasis is,” Natale said.

International missions is not just a seasonal emphasis at Lancaster Second; it is an integral part of the culture of the church, he said. “I think it’s our consistency,” he said. “We don’t just tag missions on. It’s a part of what we are, part of our heartbeat. All this is about what the people in our church are wanting to do,” Natale said. “Here, missions is very personalized, not abstract.”

To illustrate his point, he told of a ministry of the church, Global Harvest, which helps provide members the opportunity to travel all over the world on short-term mission efforts. In recent years, church members have undergone professional training and led mission teams to Romania, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Mexico, Ecuador, Europe, South America, South Africa and Croatia. In the immediate future, the church will focus its energies on the South Carolina-South Asia missions partnership, Natale said.

When church members return from overseas trips and tell their stories, the concept of giving to global missions quickly becomes personal, he said. “It’s a simple concept, but very profound.”

Ten years ago, Lancaster Second adopted a challenge from its leadership to give 10 percent more to Lottie Moon than it had the previous year. With each subsequent year, the goal to give 10 percent more than the year before was renewed.

As a result, in 2004 and 2005, the church was recognized by the International Mission Board as one of the top 100 churches across the Southern Baptist Convention in dollars given to global missions.

In 2006, members gave $105,451 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering – an increase of almost 20 percent from the year before.

“We didn’t see this coming,” said Natale. “This is an act of God more than anything else. I’m grateful for our people, who have missions in their hearts. We’re going to do what God asks us to do, give what God asks us to give, and we’re going to spread his word.

“We can’t be passive in making his name known and renowned in the world. We have to be active in funding and in getting to the field ourselves. We’re committed because we know this is what God wants us to do.”