In Hebrews 13:16 (ESV), we are told, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” How good are you about doing just that? Do you faithfully give tithe and offerings? And, when it comes to the mission offering at your church, how much do you know about this quarter’s project?
A 2015-2016 study conducted by Petr Cincala, René Drumm, and Duane McBride on behalf of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR) and the North American Division, surveyed 872 North American Adventist church members regarding different aspects of the mission offering. One specific area studied questioned how familiar church members are with the destination of mission offering funds and by what avenues they become familiar with the current quarter’s projects.
The Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is the most common place that church members learn about where the mission offering is going, with over half (59%) of respondents reporting this as their primary means of gaining this knowledge. Another third learned about it through the Sabbath School mission story, and about one-in-five knew about mission projects through announcements in the church or Sabbath School. Only 12% learned about the current quarter’s mission offering through their Mission Quarterly.
While a variety of materials are used to convey information about mission projects within a specific territory, researchers wanted to determine how effective each material was.
- Respondents reported that their Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (Lesson Quarterly) is the most common way their local church promotes giving to the current quarter’s mission offering; 47% of respondents reported being exposed via this method on a weekly basis. An additional 23% of respondents reported that their congregations utilize this method from once to six times a quarter.
- Slightly less than one third (30%) of respondents reported that their local congregation utilized the Sabbath School mission story on a weekly basis to promote the current quarter’s mission project. Another 16% are exposed to this information through the mission story once or twice per month and 9% once a quarter. However, 21% of respondents reported that they are never made aware of mission projects through the Sabbath School Mission Story.
- Less than one in five (17%) respondents reported that their local congregations utilize the Mission Quarterly on a weekly basis to promote giving to the current quarter’s mission project. In fact, a much greater number (28%) reported that their local congregation never uses the Mission Quarterly for this purpose.
- Many participants said that they don’t know about Global Mission Spotlight TV programs on 3ABN or Mission 360° magazine or Hope Channel TV programs.
It would appear that many local congregations are not making full use of the materials so readily available for their use.
A large indicator of how resources are used to learn about the mission offering seems to be the age of church members. More than half (56%) of the respondents were ages 70-87 that reported gathering the mission offering information from their Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly. This group is closely followed by the respondents ages 51-69 (47%). When it came to gaining mission offering information from the Mission Quarterly, respondents ages 87 and older reported the highest rates (58%) of information gained through this means; they were followed by those ages 70-87 (23%). In both cases, the youngest age group (less than 36 years of age) reported the lowest engagement with either resource. Which raises the question, Why? Is this group not familiar with the resources or are the resources not relevant to them?
When asked to what extent they feel their giving to the Mission Offering is influenced by different promotional materials or methods:
- Over a quarter (27%) of respondent’s felt that the Sabbath School mission story is the most effective way of influencing giving, and another 36% felt that it was somewhat effective
- About a quarter (23%) of respondents felt that the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly is the most effective way of influencing giving, while another 40% feel it is somewhat effective.
- Less than one in five (18%) respondents felt that the Mission Quarterly was the most effective way of influencing giving, while a greater number (%) felt that it was somewhat effective.
Since church members learn about current quarter’s mission projects primary through Sabbath School and its material, consider how often your local congregation utilizes either the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, the Sabbath School mission story, or the Mission Quarterly to make these projects known. Are these resources being used to their full potential in your congregation? Are all generations in the church aware of them and of mission projects of the global church? If not, perhaps it is time to make the church members in your congregation aware of the resource variety and place a higher priority on this aspect of “doing good.”
Read more on Mission Offering trends in the research report and these blogs:
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry