Greear gives Lottie Moon challenge

DURHAM, N.C. (BP) -- Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear thinks Southern Baptists can exceed their $160 million goal for this year's Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (LMCO) for International Missions. So he's offering a lighthearted incentive to encourage a challenge goal of $170 million.

"Is there something you would be willing to do if we hit $170 [million]?" Todd Unzicker (left) asked SBC President J.D. Greear during a Nov. 27 Facebook Live event.
Screen capture from Facebook
If the 2018-19 LMCO hits that mark, Greear will perform a stunt suggested by Southern Baptists on social media, he announced Nov. 27 during a Facebook Live event, which had been viewed more than 6,100 times by midday Nov. 30. A video clip of Greear's challenge tweeted by the International Mission Board had been viewed more than 2,500 times in the same timeframe.

Thus far, suggested stunts include singing a duet with newly elected IMB President Paul Chitwood, arm wrestling Chitwood, performing a Broadway number, taking a pie in the face and sporting a mullet at the SBC annual meeting.

"I think all of these ideas should directly involve Dr. Chitwood, of course," Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., told Baptist Press. "We could look at it like an initiation to his new role to see how serious he is about getting the job done."

When "duet with Paul Chitwood" was the top vote getter in a Nov. 28 Twitter poll by the IMB, Chitwood tweeted he and Greear should sing a song by Milli Vanilli, the 1980s and '90s R&B duo who became infamous for lip-syncing.

"Rest assured," Chitwood told BP, "the only singing Southern Baptists want to hear Paul Chitwood do is Milli Vanilli lip-sync style."

To date, the largest LMCO ever received was $165.8 million in 2015-16. The 2017-18 total of $158.9 million was the second largest. The Lottie Moon Offering helps fund the more than 3,600 IMB missionaries serving across the globe.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we can reach a $170 million goal," Chitwood said. "And I am thankful both for our president's challenge to Southern Baptists as well as the fact that J.D. Greear and The Summit Church back up their talk by sacrificially supporting our missionaries through the LMCO and the Cooperative Program."

The idea for Greear to perform a stunt or challenge arose during his Nov. 27 Facebook Live session on the Lottie Moon Offering with Todd Unzicker, an associate pastor at The Summit.

"The goal is $160 million," Greear said. "I believe that's a faith goal. That's a stretch goal, but man, I'd love to just see us go farther" to "$170 [million] or higher."

Unzicker replied, "Is there something you would be willing to do if we hit $170?" Then he invited viewers to offer suggestions on Greear's social media channels.

Greear suggested Unzicker dress up as Lottie Moon, the 19th-century Southern Baptist missionary for whom the offering is named, if giving reaches $170 million. While Unzicker declined, his three children and wife Ashley posted a YouTube rap video today (Nov. 30) starring his daughter as Lottie Moon. See video below.

"If we get a really good idea," Greear said on Facebook Live, "we'll do it."

Despite the jovial nature of Greear's challenge, he told BP giving to international missions is no laughing matter.

"The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is, I believe, the best investment, with the greatest impact, that we can make toward the Great Commission," Greear said. "As a former missionary, I benefited from it personally. Our church has enthusiastically given for over 17 years, and we are hoping this year will be our largest ever.

"The Gospel only goes forward through sacrifice. More than [3,600] Southern Baptists have answered the call to preach the Gospel in foreign contexts," Greear said. "My prayer is that those of us who are called to stay will do our part in keeping them there."

Watch the Lottie Moon challenge portion of the Facebook Live video:

Watch the Unzicker family's Lottie Moon rap video:

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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