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Christians in Champaign County, IL, Issue a Friendly Challenge to Churches Across the U.S.: 'Increase Missions and We'll Match It!'

Contact: Sylvia Ronsvalle, empty tomb, inc., 217-356-9519, missionmatch@emptytomb.org

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Jan. 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- Church members and congregations in Champaign County, Illinois are issuing a friendly challenge to churches across the U.S.: ‘Increase Missions and We’ll Match It!’

And these folks are putting their money where their challenge is. Individuals and congregations have been building a fund to match new missions spending by congregations nationally.

Mission Match®, a project of empty tomb®, inc., currently has $63,000 available to match new mission spending by congregations.

The first match was in 2002. As of 2006, Mission Match has distributed a total of $62,000 to match $106,609 in ‘new mission money’ raised for 47 congregational projects.

Now Christians in Champaign County, IL, want to step up the pace.

Funds have been contributed by individuals, such as Shannon Cook. Ms. Cook works as Helping Coordinator at Mission Match’s parent organization, empty tomb. She works with area churches to assist local people in need. On her donation form Shannon wrote, “My first time going global!”

Congregations have also contributed to the fund. For example, First Baptist Church of Champaign at Savoy, IL, is already very active in its own mission projects. Now they want to encourage other congregations to increase support for missions as well. First Baptist dedicated its 2006 Christmas offering to the Mission Match fundraising effort. Their contribution totaled $7,287.25.

And because a young Champaign, IL couple donated a special gift, $20,000 was available to double these contributions. The couple wanted to leverage their gift by encouraging other donors to build the available matching fund balance.

Findings in empty tomb, inc. research support the need to encourage increased support for missions. In its annual ‘State of Church Giving’ edition, empty tomb staff surveyed 34 denominations about their congregations’ spending.

In 2004, of each dollar donated to congregations, 2 cents, on average, was spent on denominational overseas missions.

This figure contrasts with an average of 8 cents spent by congregations in the 1920s. And the ‘State of Church Giving’ highlights a congregation in South Korea that gives over 70 cents of each dollar to overseas missions.

Meanwhile, an empty tomb analysis of available data calculated potential giving. If church members had donated an average of 10 percent, instead of the actual 2.56%, there would have been an additional $164 billion available for mission work in 2004. Estimates are that $5 billion a year could stop most global child deaths, $7 billion a year could provide primary education for children around the globe, and $1 billion could fund world evangelization. Mission Match supporters feel the potential is great to impact these needs.

To encourage congregations to act on this potential, empty tomb staff developed a practical approach. If congregations raise money beyond current missions spending, Mission Match will contribute an equal amount.

To obtain funds, a congregation applies for a matching contribution. The congregation identifies a specific mission project it wants to support. Matching contributions can be requested in amounts from $500 to $3,000.

Once Mission Match reserves the money, the congregation asks its members to contribute for the specific mission project. When notified that the money has been donated by church members, Mission Match provides its matching contribution.

To date, congregations have received Mission Match funds for a variety of projects including: the building of a pastor-training center in Cambodia; a water system for a village in Haiti (sponsored by a youth group); a self-esteem program for low-income youth in Ohio; and educating women in Tanzania.

Congregations located in 16 states have received Mission Match funds so far. Projects have been located in 21 countries, in addition to eight projects in the U.S.

‘Historically Christian’ churches in the U.S are welcome to apply for Mission Match funds. These include communions such as evangelical and mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, and Pentecostal. More information, including the application and guidelines, is available at the Mission Match button at www.emptytomb.org.


For more information about Mission Match, contact:

Sylvia Ronsvalle, Executive Vice President
empty tomb, inc.
(217) 356-9519

Contributors to Mission Match and its ‘friendly challenge to churches in the U.S.’ include:

Rev. Randy Gauger, Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Champaign at Savoy
(217) 352-2240, ext. 108
First Baptist Church directed its 2006 Christmas offering, amounting to $7,287.25, to Mission Match in order to encourage other congregations to increase missions.

Quesnell Hartmann
Work: (217) 373-1590, ext. 100
Donor, with his wife, of a $40,000 contribution to Mission Match. They requested their donation be leveraged to encourage other donors to build the available Mission Match balance. Of the $40,000, $20,000 was used to match 200 gifts averaging 100 each.

Shannon Cook, Helping Coordinator
empty tomb, inc.
(217) 356-7943
Donor to Mission Match: “My first time going global!”

Linda Kennedy
Cell: (217) 841-1789
Donor and Member of Wake the Sleeping Giant® Funding Team for Mission Match

Contact Sylvia Ronsvalle for other congregations donating Mission Match funds to challenge churches across the U.S., and/or for contacts in congregations that have received Mission Match funds. (217) 356-9519 or missionmatch@emptytomb.org.