New Orleans church supports missionaries with ‘Lottie on the Lawn’

Children at Lakeshore Church pose with a life-size cutout of Lottie Moon. The church’s ‘Lottie on the Lawn’ initiative has ‘given us opportunities to educate our people [about Lottie] and Southern Baptist missions,’ says Milly Holder.
BP photo

New Orleans church supports missionaries with ‘Lottie on the Lawn’

This month, members of Lakeshore Church, New Orleans, might have awakened to find a shadowy figure in their front yard. There wasn’t cause for alarm, though.

This is the second year the church has raised money for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering with “Lottie on the Lawn,” in which a life-sized cardboard cutout of the 4’3” Moon is placed on the lawn of an unsuspecting church member under cover of darkness.

Upon the cutout’s discovery the next day, the member must donate to Southern Baptists’ annual offering for international missions and choose Lottie’s next destination. The church’s goal for the 2020 offering is $5,000, matching the amount raised last year.

The event’s value has stretched beyond raising money for missions, said Milly Holder, who leads the church’s greeting team and coordinates missionary care.

Opportunities to educate

“This has given us opportunities to educate our people [about Lottie] and Southern Baptist missions,” she said. “Even people who may have been familiar with her name didn’t know a lot about her story.”

Holder and Katy Beith, Lakeshore’s children’s director, coordinate Lottie on the Lawn. They also have a firsthand knowledge on the offering’s impact.

In her role at Lakeshore, Holder helps maintain a connection between the church and three families it has sent out as missionaries — one through the International Mission Board and two through the North American Mission Board.

The connection comes through a monthly Zoom call, care packages and weekly texts and emails.

The church’s missions outreach also includes a residency program for would-be ministers and two church plants since its 2017 launch.

Holder and Beith also have a personal understanding of life on the missions field. Each served two years as an International Mission Board journeyman — Holder in Central Asia and Beith in the African country of Lesotho.

Like Moon, Beith was a schoolteacher before entering the missions field. The path to missions began in earnest on Oct. 7, 2013, when three of her students died in a tragic car wreck. “It rocked me,” she said. “It made me realize that eternity starts now. Don’t put things off. Ever since I’d been a little girl, I felt like I was to do something, and the time had come.”

Inspired by tragedy

She finished the school year and signed up to go as an IMB missionary in the spring of 2014. In looking through the possible assignments, a teaching position in Lesotho seized her attention. More importantly, it was the date the assignment had been written: Oct. 7, 2013.

“I felt God calling me to that position,” she recalled.

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering helped pay for many aspects of Holder’s ministry in Central Asia too, she said.

Rock climbing, for instance, was a popular activity where she served. Those funds helped build a rock climbing gym and café at the place where their church met in the predominately Muslim country.

Those attractions served as locations for gospel conversations and evangelistic opportunities.

‘Nor alone’

“When people give, it reminds you you’re not alone,” she said.

Last year “Lottie” made her way to as many as 15 lawns. There was also a Lottie’s Nite Out where parents could donate to the offering in exchange for child care and a date night.

This year, the night out will be replaced Dec. 12 by an event designed to care for church planters.

“It will be kind of like a Christmas party,” Beith said. “Milly, myself and others will help watch their kids as well as some more from the neighborhood.”

George Ross, Lakeshore’s lead teaching pastor, also serves as the New Orleans Send missionary and Send Relief Ministry Center director with the North American Mission Board.

“Lottie on the Lawn has been great for promotion, education and raising funds for international missions,” he said. “Our people love it. It’s quickly become something everyone has latched onto and love participating in.”

Five years ago, Pontchartrain Baptist Church became Lakeshore Church as a replant effort and has around 90–100 attending on Sunday mornings now. Beith said the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is a good reminder that size bears little relativity to impact.

“It’s encouraging for me to know that even if a church isn’t big, if they’re passionate about missions, they can give,” she said. “It’s another reason I love Lakeshore so much. We believe people need to hear the gospel to be saved.

“Lottie did something countercultural. The gospel calls us to do things that aren’t expected and go against the flow.”

Reprinted with permission from Baptist Press, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.