As one gets older time seems to be a reality rag that wipes away the rose color on the glasses of idealism. At an earlier time of my ministry I would attend conferences and retreats just to be close to those leaders I admired the most. I got married when I was 33 years old and my wife was 30. Being a pastor, I wanted her to meet some of my heroes whenever we could. I remember being on my honeymoon and it took us from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta and then back to North Carolina. While in Atlanta I stopped by one of my heroes homes for my wife to meet him. Dr. Johnny Hunt was so very gracious and accommodating as he was preparing for church members to come by for a Christmas celebration he would hold every year. Of course, FBC Woodstock was not as large then as it is now so he could still accommodate the church family in his home. We pulled into his neighborhood and saw him in the driveway and he insisted we come inside for some “hanging out” time.
If you have heard Dr. Hunt speak you will know that “hanging out” is one of his spiritual gifts. Approximately two years later Dr. Hunt and Ms Janet were passing us in a convention and he stopped Gail and I in the hallway. He reminded Ms. Janet of our visit to their home a couple of Christmas’s earlier and we picked up where we left off. Now, when Gail and I speak of our honeymoon with others we tell them that part of our honeymoon trip was a visit to Dr. Hunt and Ms. Janet’s home. Of course, people may think we are crazy, but it certainly is a fond memory of ours because he is one of my heroes in the ministry.
Over the years I have seen Brother Johnny and interacted with him but these times have grown fewer and fewer. One of the reasons is I followed Brother Johnny and his ministry over the years and there have been some things about which we disagreed. Instead of vocally and publicly stating my disagreements, I have remained quiet because I do not want to do or say anything that would cause him personal anguish. One such area of disagreement is the area of Cooperative Program giving that Brother Johnny has led FBC Woodstock to give over the years. I have tried not to make any public statement concerning this about Brother Johnny — that is, until now.
Brother Johnny is one whom I can truly say has placed feet to his words. Around North Carolina there is a saying; “put your money where your mouth is.” Brother Johnny has certainly done that. Let me give you some facts straight from the Annual Church Profile.
Undesignated Funds: $17,450,278
Cooperative Program: $432,977 = 2.5%
Undesignated Funds: $16,963,244
Cooperative Program: $468,750 = 2.7%
Undesignated Funds: $17,450,278
Cooperative Program: $920,346 = 6.3%
What a great example!!!! Dr. Hunt has led FBC Woodstock to double their CP giving. While we have never held any church to a percentage of giving most Southern Baptists would agree that 3 percent or below is just not showing much loyalty to convention causes. The average giving in SBC churches, the last I saw, was between 5 and 6 percent. Dr. Hunt has increased to above the average and look at the amount. $920,346 is nearly $1 million I do not care how you look at it. Also, if one examines the undesignated funds one will find an increase of $487,034. This means Dr. Hunt led the church to increase giving to the CP more than the amount of what they increased in “undesignated” funds. No matter how one slices this pie one will find that FBC Woodstock sacrificed in order to increase to this percentage.
Let me say this in closing. Brother Johnny is one that I admire as I see in him the integrity that is so desperately needed in all of our leaders. Brother Johnny did not increase his giving to be elected president of the SBC; he has increased his giving when it has no potential help for him in the SBC. CP giving not only helps the SBC and gives small churches like mine encouragement, but it also helps the GBC. Georgia is struggling in finances just as other state conventions, but they are certainly buoyed by the increase to the coffers by just one church. Can you imagine what would happen in Georgia, better than that, across the convention, if all churches would increase their CP giving by just 1 percent?
Thank you, Dr. Johnny Hunt, for your leadership in doubling your CP giving. Yours is certainly an example that is worthy of emulation.