MORGANTOWN, Ky. (BP) – Early on in his pastoral ministry, Randy Burns said he realized, “I was blessed to know there is an underlying generosity here,” at Monticello Baptist Church, which averages never more than Was 75 years old in Sunday morning services except in 1991 when it reached 80.
That group — reduced to about 60 on-site and maybe a dozen online post-COVID — donated more than $57,831 to Annie Armstrong’s Easter offering® for North American missions and $75,000 for Lottie Moon’s Christmas offering® for international missions in the Church’s final fiscal year.
The church is also consistently generous to its association and other missionary offerings.
“Our desire is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through gospel-centered worship and ministry,” Burns told Baptist Press. “We have been blessed with many people who are very generous, and we really want to take the gospel to as many people as possible.
“Part of the reason we do what we do is because we remember Jesus said, ‘Whatever you do to the least of these, we do to him,'” the pastor continued. “And it makes us feel good to be able to help others in a practical way.”
Burns spoke about “Socktober,” a church WMU sock collection for elementary school children and residents at the local nursing home, a sophomore ministry.
Monticello Baptist is about 11 rural miles west of Morgantown, the seat of Butler County. Members include farmers, small business owners such as a sawmill owner, a veterinarian, teachers, workers, nurses, and others.
“Many people were born and raised in this church, and others have just moved in,” the pastor said. “It’s a good mix of young families, teenagers and our oldest members who are now in their 80s.”
In addition to the regular tithes and offerings, 10 percent of which is dedicated to the cooperative program, the way Southern Baptists work together in North America and around the world, Monticello Baptist includes five special offerings each year: Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions, Lottie Moon International Mission Offering, Eliza Broadus State Mission Offering, Bill Wells Offering for the Gasper River Baptist Association, and the Sunrise Children’s Services Thanksgiving Offering of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
A longtime couple testamentally established a foundation for Monticello Baptist, the annual proceeds of which are shared equally with the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board at their request. A significant additional amount is added each year during the Easter and Christmas Weeks of Prayer.
The efforts of the state, the association and the children’s mission all come from the pockets and paychecks of the current Monticello members.
“We had a goal of $12,000 for one of them, which we hadn’t quite reached yet,” the pastor said. “I was about to say, ‘Let’s round up to $12,000,’ and at a business meeting someone else first said, ‘Let’s round up to $15,000.’ That’s the spirit we have here.”
The goal has been more than achieved, said the pastor.
Disaster relief is another example of the generosity of Monticello Baptist’s missions.
“We give 2 percent of unrestricted funds to disaster relief, primarily because many people in our church see what disaster relief has accomplished,” Burns said. “Some would like to help but cannot get away from work or have health problems. [Giving to Disaster Relief] allow them to participate in this work.”
Monticello’s generosity begins with financial support and goes outward from there.
The Morgantown Elementary School Resource Center communicates with the Church when children need winter (or summer) clothing. There’s the local sock ministry, student Christmas backpacks, and Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
“If need arises with our own [church] Body, we’re trying to take care of that and we’re trying to stand alongside other departments and help where we can,” Burns said. “In my opinion, this is the best use of our resources. If we try to do everything here, we could do less than if we helped these other organizations.
“It multiplies our reach,” the pastor continued. “During my time here, no one has committed to full-time missionary work, but our donation allows us to help thousands of missionaries. The collaboration program helps us to maximize our reach.”
Burns was in his 20s in 2001 when 42 members of the Monticello Baptist Church voted to call him their pastor. He was a graduate of Clear Creek Baptist College and also had an MDiv degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). By 2015, he had also earned a Doctor of Education from SBTS.
The Monticello Baptist Church was founded in 1805; The members in 2001 were “mostly older,” said the pastor. Some were in their 90s.
“I’ve seen the Lord do many amazing things, like the way He brought the church together,” Burns said. “I know I have a part to play as a pastor, but really it’s the way the Spirit of God is at work in the hearts of his people.
“There was a time when I wasn’t sure if we were going to become a mission-oriented church. It seemed unlikely from a human perspective, but again people have responded so that any success we have as a church is largely due to the Spirit at work in the body.”
Prayer and mission remain at the forefront of his leadership of the church, the pastor said. At his request, the WMU group continues to focus on the five great offerings taken each year, and Burns routinely preaches on both prayer and mission as they appear in the scriptures from which he preaches.
The church also has special times of prayer during each of the five times of sacrifice.
Monticello members twice joined the Gasper River Baptist Association on mission trips to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They worked with a church in St. Louis, Missouri for two years to help reach their community. They helped when a Hispanic church, Luz y Vida, was started in Morgantown. Last year they went to Otoe in northern Oklahoma to minister at Camp Crossway an hour north of Oklahoma City and plan to return next year.
Children from the Hispanic congregation come to Monticello for vacation Bible school every summer, a connection made because Pastor Delia’s wife teaches English as a second language at Morgantown Elementary School.
“A lot of what we make seem like a success, a lot of what we’ve seen over the past 21 years is people responding to God’s Word and God’s love,” Burns said. “We exist to know him and to make him known.”