Growing up in North Carolina, Pastor Michael Johnson has fond memories of his home church taking up an offering on one special Sunday each year. It was a growing church and their facility often needed upgrades or expansion. The church was committed to using the building as a tool to reach new people. His pastor used the story of King Joash from 2 Chronicles 24 to inspire his church family to give from the heart. Just as Israel was challenged to give sacrificially to repair the Temple and restore it to its former glory, this New Testament church accepted a similar challenge. With eager anticipation to what God would do, each family came forward and placed their gift in the “Chest of Joash.” There were tears as children dumped their piggy banks, knowing that every penny represented an investment in lost souls who would hear the Gospel in their new facility, debt free! This made a lasting impression on Michael as God worked powerfully in this church to see many come to faith in Jesus.
As the new Lead Teaching Pastor of Big Sky Fellowship, Pastor Michael felt led to replicate this idea in Helena, MT with an emphasis on Gospel advance. He believed the Chest of Joash could inspire Big Sky Fellowship to embrace the call to take the Gospel to the nations through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. This call also included sending missionaries and mission teams in fulfulling their mission of making disciples, all for the glory of God.
In the month of December, each message focused on generosity as an expression of worship. Our love for Jesus and our desire to bring glory to Him compels one to give and go. This intentional approach yielded great dividends. On December 22, the church responded. One by one each family gave from the heart. This one-time mission offering totaled $11,500. This was by far the most the church has ever given in a mission’s emphasis, a 750% increase from their high the year before. Funds were set aside for a missionary being deployed to the Philippines from the church this summer and for a YWAM missionary that was sent from the church in October to Japan. Big Sky Fellowship came to understand their partnership in the Gospel in new ways. The total amount designated to the Lottie Moon Offering was over $5,200, which was an increase of 350% from last year’s record and they gave over $2,300 to the Montana Missions Offering. This was a 440% percent increase from the previous year.
The International Mission Board’s Lottie Moon videos provided great context for the offering and demonstrated real life examples of missionaries serving the Lord and being faithful to God’s call. Pastor Michael said, “I wanted to motivate the people using not guilt, or reward, but their rescue. When people see the beautiful grace of the sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf and we tie their hearts to that, the response is greater to the call of God to sacrifice for the great commission.”