This morning during the response hymn, many of our members came forward with their pledge cards (they didn’t look like this, however. These are some of our college students at a mission project at Rountree School). They were indicating what their giving would be over this next fiscal year beginning April 1. This action was very meaningful, not only on a personal level but also on a public level. It is encouraging to see individuals responding to the commitment of financial support of our operating budget. We are indeed “investing in eternity” as the sermon topic indicated.
Last Wednesday night, our church came together for a Town Hall Meeting to discuss our upcoming budget. Dr. Bob Perry led us to gather around tables and discuss in small groups three questions. I recorded answers on butcher paper and will compile them soon for distribution. I can’t remember the specific wording of the questions, but in essence here they are:
1. What church activity or event was especially significant or meaningful to you this year?
2. In light of the current economic difficulties, what are some ways our congregation can minister to those in need this year?
3. In looking ahead to better economic times, what are some areas that you think deserve additional funding in the future?
We went a little bit longer than usual in our discussions, but the time proved well spent. Those in attendance seemed genuinely encouraged by the ways our church is involved in missions and ministry already. Sometimes I get the impression that not everyone realizes what our church is doing, and it bears repeating to get folks informed.
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the gathering to me had to be the responses to question #2. It was so exciting to hear our church members talking about ways to reach our community and minister to one another during these economic difficulties. So often we don’t think about others when times are hard, and only focus on ourselves and what our problems are. However, I didn’t sense any of that mentality last Wednesday night. Instead, the consensus was the God may be doing a new thing and can work through our church family even during trying times. There were many good responses, and it may time some time to distill the results into a workable plan.
Most if not all congregations are being affected by the financial woes our economic situation brings. We are no exception, but it means a lot to hear people talking about ways God can minister inside and outside our church family through willing hearts and hands. I’m thankful for the generosity of our church in its giving and its living for Christ. The church has a wonderful opportunity to impact society during times of persecution and hardship, and it is a challenge to stay encouraged. Still, my hope will be that we remain relevant and sensitive to new ways of service as the Holy Spirit leads.