Up for the Challenge
Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge hit $7 million in annual revenue for the first time in 2015. BGMC national Senior Director David J. Boyd believes collecting $10 million a year is an achievable goal for the Assemblies of God mission program for kids by 2018.
The target would require unprecedented giving, topping the more than 10 percent boost from 2015. The record $7,011,912 donated last year also represented the largest one-year increase — $643,734 — in the history of the program, which started in 1949. Boyd is undaunted.
“There is a momentum across the Fellowship I’ve never felt before,” says Boyd, who has been in the post since 1999. “For years, kids have been faithfully taught about missions and to have a heart of compassion. If they care about the world, they will eventually pray and eventually give.”
These days, giving to BGMC goes beyond asking mom or dad for a quarter on the way to church. Kids are actively doing household chores, setting up lemonade stands, and selling baked goods.
“When a child is willing to earn money and sacrificially give those funds away, it is a huge worldview concept for their spirit,” says Boyd.
BGMC giving in 40 of the AG’s 67 districts increased in 2015, and 21 of the districts had all-time highs in donations. Eleven of the 14 Hispanic districts increased contributions in 2015. As the ministry’s chief cheerleader, Boyd continually asks kids and congregations to give more than they’ve ever contributed before, so that missionaries will be able to accomplish more than they’ve ever done. The new two-year BGMC theme of “above and beyond” is based on Ephesians 3:20.
“Across the board there is a move that’s picking up steam,” Boyd says. “Giving of an additional $1 million a year for each of the next three years is certainly attainable.”
After he graduated from North Central University, Boyd and his wife, Mary, served as children’s pastors in North Dakota, Michigan, and Florida for 17 years. The couple, who have no children, typically worked side by side at desks in church offices. Mary still is working with David as the BGMC national coordinator, one of the six staff members.
The Boyds were praying about becoming AG world missionaries when the offer came 17 years ago to head the new national Children’s Ministries Agency, a post which included overseeing BGMC — with its focus of reaching children around the world. When the Children’s Ministries Agency and BGMC split eight years later, Boyd continued to lead BGMC.
Simultaneous with Boyd’s arrival in 1999, the scope and vision of BGMC began to expand. Initially, BGMC funds primarily purchased Sunday School curriculum for missionaries to use with kids overseas. That has broadened to other printed material, such as Bibles, tracts, and textbooks, as well as a host of other needs a missionary may have to reach kids: a puppet stage, sound system, shelter for Sunday School, even pots and pans.
“It’s not our job to decide where the funds go,” Boyd says. “It’s our job to raise the funds for the missionaries, who decide where the critical need is.”
Although annual giving has more than doubled since Boyd arrived, he notes that the number of churches involved in donating has held remarkably constant at around 39 percent. He says a key to growth is the free annual curriculum BGMC provides to churches that give to the program. The 400-plus pages include videos, graphically enhanced true missions stories, and details about where BGMC contributions go.
Boyd contends that smaller churches with committed laypeople running the local program is the backbone of BGMC. He also maintains that poorer districts give more per capita than well-off regions of the country.
“The less money parents have, the more kids tend to give to missions,” Boyd says. “The more money parents have, the less kids give to missions.”
Yet BGMC isn’t primarily about collecting money, Boyd insists.
“Our reason for being is to put the Great Commission in the hearts of kids, raising up a heart of compassion,” Boyd says. “When you teach kids there are people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus or who don’t have enough food to eat or who don’t have shoes to wear, something clicks in their hearts. Our goal is to perpetuate missions for the next generation.”
While kids don’t have the financial resources of their parents, they can be just as effective at praying, Boyd declares. Testimonies of kids interceding in prayer for missionaries illustrate how God miraculously protects and heals.
“Kids learn that God answers prayer and that their prayers are important and powerful,” Boyd says.
If a comparable amount is raised this year as last year it will put the total past $100 million during Boyd’s tenure at the helm, according to Mark Entzminger, senior director of Children’s Ministries.
Entzminger notes that annual giving has more than doubled since Boyd came on board, and it has increased all but two of Boyd’s years. He commends Boyd for innovative approaches to raising funds, including organizing summits that bring together several missionaries to present project opportunities to groups of pastors.
“David has an insatiable passion for the marriage between ministry to kids and missions,” Entzminger says. “He can help kids understand that they can make a difference by raising pennies, nickels, dimes, and dollars. David is masterful in helping ministry leaders to begin to see the power of the body of Christ teaming up.”
Pictured (from left): Mark Entzminger, Mary Boyd, David Boyd
Photo credit: Jorge Tobar