Published Jul 26, 2022
FRESNO—Plans are underway for the California Mission Offering to be transformed from a “one-time” to a new “year-long” emphasis to better meet the needs of California Southern Baptist Convention churches.
Pete Ramirez, CSBC executive director, said he has asked the Office of Communications to redesign and promote CMO differently in the future because “we know that churches are supporting missions differently than they have in the past.”
“There used to be a day when Southern Baptist mission emphases were promoted during the same time every year. Today, North American, international, and state missions are being collected in a variety of ways. Many churches include one or more of these offerings in their budgets, and others observe the emphases in differing seasons because of the tradition held at their particular church,” he said.
He also noted that from an accounting perspective, many churches have shifted to allocating funds to all three mission offerings throughout the year.
Because of this, Ramirez believes CSBC needs to respond to the churches by providing materials that can be used anytime and not only for a few months.
Beginning in January 2023, CMO materials will be available throughout the year. Ramirez’s goal is to “keep California Southern Baptists informed as to how the offering is progressing. We also will have opportunity to change and add resources from time to time.”
He provided an example of how resources might change seasonally. “Let’s say that in January we feature an evangelism video as part of the promotion. We might replace that video during the summer with one about migrant missions. This will give our churches up-to-date materials for promoting the offering to their members.”
The change, he said, “might spur churches to work toward a common goal.”
One of the objectives Ramirez hopes to achieve as executive director is to “cast vision” and “help unite” California Southern Baptist mission efforts “to better reach our state for Jesus.”
One of the ways he believes this can be done is through unifying themes for the state Convention and CMO. “This elevates CMO to more than just an offering. It is now working in harmony with the theme and goals of the Convention.”
Historically, CSBC has promoted the offering with a three-pronged objective – praying, going, and giving. “I believe this can be better accomplished with this more wholistic approach.”
Ramirez said that for our churches, it sometimes appears that “all we want is their money. That is far from the truth. We want them to pray about and be involved in California missions. Do their gifts help? Absolutely! But it is more than that. It really is all about the churches. The gifts we receive are returned to churches and associations to help serve the vision they have for their local communities. That’s why we are modifying the promotion strategy, to be more responsive to the needs of the local church. By offering materials that emphasize California missions early, congregations can utilize these resources at a time that works best for them.”
He added, “We are going to launch our first effort at the 2022 CSBC annual meeting in West Sacramento. Our Convention theme is ‘Better Together’ which also is the theme for the 2023 CMO emphasis.”
By casting a vision each October at the annual meeting, Ramirez believes church leaders will embrace a bigger, more unifying ideal. “My goal is to preview the CMO materials for each coming year during our annual state meeting.”
He emphasized that this new approach would not hinder a congregation from promoting the offering in the fall as has been tradition, but believes this flexible promotional format will help churches “meet their Acts 1:8 strategies” and “allow them to participate in the offering anytime during the year.”
Sarah Graham, director of the CSBC Office of Communications, said because of the “transitioning nature of CMO,” CSBC is “scaling back on resources for 2022 and focusing on a bigger, more effective launch in January.”
“We are not printing materials for churches to order for 2022. Instead,” she noted, “we are providing downloadable bulletin inserts and posters that churches can print from their own copiers for immediate use.”
To be good stewards of materials and mission gifts, Graham said CMO envelopes in stock from previous offerings can be ordered for 2022 “until that stock is depleted.”
She noted CMO materials should be available online in early August.
Ramirez said providing online materials is one way to “bridge the gap” from a fall promotion plan to a year-long promotion plan.
“My prayer is that our churches will understand our reasoning not to produce 2022 materials, but instead focus on 2023. This also will help financially to not have two years’ worth of promotional materials in one budget year.”
Ramirez said, “I’m excited about the possibilities for the California Mission Offering in the future. I think by working in full cooperation to realize our goals, this new plan will prove that we really are ‘Better Together.’”