This Sunday we announced a $110,000 surplus in congregational giving for the year. Wow. We also announced the ways we'll be using it. And those ways are SO exciting. You can watch the announcement below or read the transcript of the announcement...
Well we’re three weeks from the end of 2016. For us as a church, it’s been a year filled with good things.
Among many other things,
-You gathered together for ShareFest to give our extra to over 500 people in need.
-You hosted almost 200 kids from this city for a week of Champs Camp, where they had a blast learning about Jesus and worshipping together.
-You invited our neighbors across the street to a party where we fed them and gave their children over 200 backpacks filled with school supplies.
-You welcomed more than 1,000 people from the community for Fall Festival and treated them to an evening of fun and hospitality.
-You gathered again and again for Plus One Celebrations, packing out a home to celebrate baptisms, thanking God for salvation and life.
-You filled the teachers’ lounge at Voigt Elementary with pastries and drinks, volunteered at Voigt’s events, mentored their students, and prayed for their faculty.
-You provided a place every Monday right here for dozens of children to have school.
-You sent teenagers and adults on mission trips to Peru and Africa.
-You funded a year’s worth of work by an incredible couple in Zagreb, Croatia and a year’s worth of work by another amazing couple in Tabora, Tanzania.
-You welcomed 69 new members into the RRCOC family and cheered for 14 baptisms.
-You helped 117 families who needed things like electricity and food and gas and a place to stay.
-You made it possible to add an entirely new staff position, bringing Dan Burgess to serve as our Connections minister to help newcomers get connected to our church and their Heavenly Father.
-You served and grieved alongside the Morrisons and others who said goodbye to precious people this year.
-You created 5 new small groups, giving 80 adults and kids a circle in which to love and be loved.
And all of that is just the tip of the iceberg.
What we need to talk about today, though, is something else you did this year.
Our weekly budget--what we’ve set as what we need to accomplish all of those things and more during a year like this one--is $12,500. You gave that and enabled all of what we’d planned to do.
...But you didn’t stop there.
In March, I preached a sermon and talked about our call as followers of Jesus and as a part of this church to give boldly. I want to play you 60 seconds of what I said. [PLAY CLIP]
I’m excited to tell you that that is exactly what you did. A lot of organizations end the year figuring out how to deal with a shortfall. You turned that upside down. Because of your generosity and intentional giving, we’re ending the year with a surplus. And that means that we get to do something extra.
So: Wow and thank you.
In terms of what we’re going to do…
There are a few projects we need to do to improve this facility. This old girl isn’t as young as she used to be. :) And so you’ve enabled us to move forward with those, to the tune of $15,000. Thanks to you, it’s paid for before it begins.
Also, as many of you know, our middle and high school students meet in a portable out here that hasn’t seen much love in about 10 years or so. Carpet and furniture is expensive, but your giving beyond our budget has enabled a $12,000 facelift.
Also, many of you know Tom and Sandra Sibley who serve as missionaries in Zagreb, Croatia, leading a Bible Institute there. They do incredible work, and the school is a one-of-a-kind resource in helping equip men and women for ministry in a place that needs light so deeply. One of their big needs is the translation of books to be used in the school. But translation is expensive, ranging from 1-2 thousand dollars per book. Because of your generosity, we’re going to send $10, 000 to them to provide the texts they need.
Also, for the last couple of years, we’ve sort of adopted Voigt Elementary, a title 1 school less than two miles from here, with a desire to invest in the school, its students, its teachers, and its administration. We’ve done some things, and we want to do more.
Several weeks ago, we met with the administration and asked, “What could we do to bless you?” And in that conversation, they told us about a program where teachers could apply for micro grants to take care of classroom needs---$50, $100, $250. (Teachers run into these needs all the time, things they could use, things they wish they could do for their students.) The problem is, sometimes those grants can be pretty difficult to get. And at a lot of schools that may be okay….they might have other funds they can access through boosters and PTA's. Voigt doesn’t have that.
But Voigt has us.
And so, Cheryl/Chrissy, we want to do this for you. We’ve created a fund where there’s $1,000 for your teachers to apply for help with classroom needs. They let us know what they’re needing, and we’ll pull from this fund to take care of it. We figure $1,000 should last for at least a good month’s worth of needs.
Except a school year’s 9 months. So we decided to put $9,000 in this fund. It’s all yours. We love Voigt and we’re grateful for what you and your teachers do.
This church is a community that’s committed to caring for orphans. A few weeks ago, on Orphan Sunday, we prayed for children who don’t have a family. That day, we prayed for God to help those who are journeying toward adoption. Prayer is powerful. Today we’re also putting our money where our mouth is.
Adoption can be expensive. And we want to bear the financial load as a body. And to that end, we’re devoting a portion of our 2016 surplus to help you adopt.
We’re praying that there is at least one family in this church who wants to bring a child into their home. Because our intent is to come alongside that family financially and take the financial obstacle out of the way. And if there are two or three families, we want to do this for all of them.
There are a lot of things about this--details and logistics--that we don’t know yet and can’t foresee. Who, when, how--there are unanswered questions in every one of those categories. Also, this is a unique financial opportunity that your generosity this year has enabled. We can’t be sure we’ll be able to do this again. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to; and you’ve proven that this church’s generosity and willingness to let God open our hands creates opportunities we wouldn’t have imagined.
Because of what you’ve given this year, we’re devoting $30,000 entirely to enabling someone or some someones here to give a child a mother and father.
On behalf of the leadership of this church, let me be clear: this is a place where when you do big, audacious, Kingdom things, you don’t do them alone. We walk together. We partner together. And we do things that are bigger than us because thanks to God and you, I’m bigger than me. And you’re bigger than you.
So if God is leading you to adopt a child, please talk to us. Because your church is ready to help.
CHRISTMAS - ?
Also, because of your generosity, we’re going to do something fun during our worship on Christmas Day that you’ll want to be here for if you can.
Also, because you kept giving, we’re doing some really beautiful things for some people in need that we hope to share with in the future. But know that God is about to write a beautiful story through you.
In the words of the Apostle Paul, you have excelled in the grace of giving. You have allowed God to be generous through you.
In all, together, we get to do $110,000 worth of ministry beyond what we’d planned this year. That is amazing.
This is what it means to be a part of a church. To be a body that, thanks to God, can do more than any one of its parts can do on their own.
As we look ahead to 2017, let’s remember: give more and we’ll do more. Let’s get crazy. :)
I’d like for us to borrow the words of Solomon in 1 Chronicles 29--words that he prayed on a day when generosity reigned. Would you pray them aloud with me?
"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? / Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand./ Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name."