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Why Giving Through the Church is Important

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GPS Messages:

Thesis: giving through the church makes a difference – not just for today, but for eternity

Goal: help people learn emotions/motivations we need to focus on, and specific actions that can help them in their giving

Text: Topical

Introduction – Mike

Title Slide

A.   FCCH Response Cards

B.   GPS

1.    Understanding the Concept

At FCCH, we know that God has called us to partner with Him in reaching this world for Christ. 

We know that God’s reputation is honored and people’s lives are changed when we join together with God’s Spirit to mobilize the church for ministry.

God does remarkable things in, through and around this church when we give, pray and serve – our GPS.

C.   Fall is on the horizon

Our school year ministries will kick off again – God will do a life changing work in the hearts of a lot of people but when you give, pray and serve more happens.  Its just a fact, we can make more of a difference together.

1.    We have a building to use because you give.  Stop giving and the bank has a large piece of property to sell.

2.    When we pray, children, teens and adults surrender their lives to Christ.  Stop praying and lives don’t change. 

3.    By serving, we teach people God’s word and they become more like Christ.  Don’t serve and we won’t have Sunday School, Teen Ministries and Small Groups.

D.   Proliferation of Requests

1.    There are over 1 million charitable organizations in the US – over one-third are religious congregations. – I think I get mail from each of them

2.    In 2006, Americans gave $295 billion dollars to charitable organizations (2.2% of the GDP)

76% of all donated money came from individuals and families (not foundations, bequeaths or corporations).

Religious organizations accounted for almost $97 billion dollars of that or over one third of all donated dollars.

3.    Organizations are so eager for you to give, that they’re willing to come to your home and take away a car, boat or RV – even if you’re still using it.

Transition: In light of all the requests we get, the question becomes: “Why is giving to the church so important?”  I thought that what I would do is invite a friend of mine up – John Corey – he’s been the Chairman of our Elders and over the 40 Days of Community from last fall.  John is going to talk about why giving to the church is important and how he has done it over the years.

I.      Why Giving To The Church Is Important

1.    Personal

2.    Giving – joy; Churchill “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”

a)     This is a private thing isn’t it? Look around – You probably see people you recognize and are familiar with their gifting – you know the teachers, the servers, the leaders, the pray-ers.  Do you know the givers?  Likely not.  Giving comes form the heart, and often stays there doesn’t it?

b)     I’ve avoided talking about it publicly for 25 years. It’s a humbling topic!

c)      But God has taught me some things, and my hope is they can be helpful to some of you.  If so – praise God.

d)     Disclaimer – aware of folks who are currently facing challenging circumstances - this could be the last thing they want to hear.  I understand, maybe some of what’s said can be of help down the road

3.    Mike mentioned “why give to the church?”

a)     I get plenty of requests – from LOTS of excellent organizations

b)     I give to many

c)      But most goes to Church, parachurch ministries like InterVarsity and World Vision, and missionaries

d)     Why?

(1)   I’m interested in organizations that are Kingdom Builders.  I’m bought in to FCCH’s 4 Purposes of the church - that’s where my investment dollars are going, to organizations that are committed to:

Slide 2

(a)   Reaching Out to Those in Need of Jesus Christ
(b)   Caring for One Another with the Love of Jesus Christ
(c)   Growing in Maturity to Become like Jesus Christ
(d)  Worshipping God Because of Jesus Christ*
(2)   Investment for eternity
(3)   If I don’t – who will?

Transition:  Since I’m motivated to build God’s Kingdom, and one of the ways to do so is through my Giving, what are some steps I can take?  Here’s some principles God has led me to.”

II.   Building God’s Kingdom through Giving

A.   Understand – that all you have is from God

Slide 3

1.    For me, the path to obedience often starts in my head, so getting a firm understanding of biblical truth helps me establish a foundation for action

2.    King David expressed it well after the people of Israel gave to build the temple of God:

a)     David knew he wouldn’t build God’s temple, that task would fall to his son Solomon

b)     That didn’t stop David from doing some serious fund raising; if my numbers are right it looks to be the equivalent of hundreds of millions of today’s dollars

c)      After David and the people gave sacrificially, did they pat themselves on the back?  No, the response was surprisingly humble:

I Chr 29:14,16 - "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. O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you”

d)     Illus

Overnight Delivery – if you gave a package to the FedEx man, how would you feel if he brought it home to his house?  It’s the same thing with God - Not all that’s given to us is for our personal use. He blesses us, expecting that some of the blessing will pass through us to Kingdom building activities.

e)     Grasping this truth opened up a new way of thinking to me.  Subtle, but profound.  Understanding all I have is from God, the question for me became not how much do I give, but rather how much do I keep?

B.   For the younger crowd – start early

Slide 4

1.    Having developed an understanding of truth, take action.  Build giving habits into your economic model as early as you can

2.    Paul tells Titus that we need to teach the next generation to live wisely.  Let me illustrate that from my own life.

3.    Illus

Kris and I are grateful for people that spoke into our lives about stewardship even before we were married

a)     As we started our lives together, giving was simply ‘built in’ to our budget

b)     We determined that we’d respond to God the Father on the same basis as Our Rich Uncle Sam and other governmental “relatives”.  If Sam received his due off the top, so would God

c)      We’ve never contemplated NOT giving and have been fortunate that we haven’t needed to reduce our giving as we’ve gone through different life stages, most recently the college years

C.   Take a small step

Slide 5

1.    Often, no matter where we’re at in our giving, taking things a little at a time can help.  Whether we’re just starting or considering keeping less.

2.    Here‘s an example of a big step:

3.    Summarize 1 Kings 17:1-24

a)    Severe multi-year drought in Israel

b)    A prophet named Elijah had just had an extended object lesson in God’s care – he lived by a brook and ravens brought him his food

c)    Brook dries up and God sends Elijah to a widow who’s supposed to take care of him

d)    Turns out she and her son are about to die – when Elijah arrives she’s literally preparing for their last meal

e)    Elijah has the God-inspired audacity to ask her to feed him first:

I Kings 17:13,14 - Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.

f)      Widow had a choice:  Hoard what she had and die - or trust in God, let go, and live.

I Kings 17:15,16 - She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

4.    Our steps may or may not be life and death – but can you think of a way to keep a little less?  Pass on the pair of shoes, wait another month to buy the car, the house, the HDTV (guys, now that’s going too far!)

a)     You may decide for example: this child in Malawi is $35/month more important than something else in my life.  You could take some specific steps:

(1)   Consider bringing your lunch to work instead of going out or using the cafeteria
(2)   Go for a 2-fer and increase your exercise – is it possible for you to walk or ride a bike to a specific spot instead of driving and using gas?
(3)   Or maybe you’ll simply trust God that you won’t miss it – and after a month or two you’ll be ready for another challenge! [Share how it goes in the Corey household]

D.   Become a student of history

Slide 6

1.    As giving gets woven into our lives, we can look back and see how God has worked.  Build on those

a)     How many times have we seen God provide for needs in our midst?  Recent Year-end offerings, Malawi, CBC, global issues such as Indonesian Tsunamis and Katrina close to home.  Many of you have given, some sacrificially for sure. Has God taken care of you?  Rejoice in the Lord and remember it…He is Faithful!! 

2.    Illus

a)     [Our story of God’s provision as Kris went from full to half to no time working. Never contemplated reducing our support for the church and friends we loved]

3.    Claim Philippians 4:19:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

E.   Pursue Contentment

Slide 7

1.    As our incomes grow, we sometimes find ourselves with more discretionary income than we used to have

2.    I find it helpful to strive to be like Paul:

a)    I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

b)    What about Paul’s circumstances?  Anything unusual here? A brief review suggests the following:

(1)   Frequently in prison
(2)   Life threatened repeatedly
(3)   Flogged to within an inch of his life 5 different times
(4)   Stoned
(5)   Shipwrecked 3 times
(6)   Starved
(7)   Thirsty
(8)   Homeless
(9)   Without clothes

c)    Content in those circumstances?  Wow!  I want what that guy has got!

3.    How?

a)     In his book “Generous Living”, Ron Blue would suggest being generous leads to a contentment – it starts w/generosity

b)     Paul shares some of his secrets a few verses earlier in Phil 4:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

c)     Illus

In our house this works its way out through the principles of Frugality and Fine [develop more]

F.    Pray about it

1.    Take all of this, your decisions, your unique circumstances and present them to God.  The Bible is silent about which house to buy, what school to send your children to, which of many worthy causes you’re called to support… we need God’s direction.

2.    James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 NIV)

3.    Ask God to protect you from becoming prideful

a)     In Mark 12, Jesus commended the widow who gave a fraction of a penny over the rich who gave from their abundance.  She gave all she had

4.    Present these to God, seek his direction, and take a step

Transition: One thing from this morning:

a)     If all that we have is from God

b)     If we’re taking steps to pursue contentment

c)      If we’re praying and willing to take some steps of faith

d)     Then here’s something to revolutionize your thinking:

(1)   The question is not - how much do we give? 
(2)   The question becomes - how much do we keep?

Not talking about giving it all away and hoping for the best.  God has already provided for many of you – through your current jobs – the ability to provide for your family.

Transition: I’ve been talking about why I think it is important to give to the church and how we do it at my home.  Mike’s going to talk about what happens here when you give.

Application (Mike)

A.    At FCCH, we have four ways that you make a difference by giving to the church

Slide 9 – progress through points

1.    Home Ministry

a)     Facts:

(1)   Home Ministry is the main budget of the church: covering all our ministry costs, staff salaries, building operations, etc
(2)   Our budget for this fiscal year is approximately $1.4 million dollars or $26,800 a week
(3)   Almost all of this comes in through your giving – your offering to God through this church

b)     Impact: What happens when you give

(1)   You make it possible for 600 people every week to come and worship God – you buy the equipment for the music teams, the technology to share the message, the space to meet in – last Sunday, we baptized a dozen people who have heard the good news about Christ here
(2)   CBC: you equip a week long bible club experience for over 400 children – run by 100 volunteers where 61 children make first time commitments to Christ and 69 recommitments.
(3)   Building: you enable us to run this building – did you know it costs over $91K a year to heat/cool the building plus turn on lights?

2.    Missions

a)     Facts

(1)   The missions budget is used to support people, here in America and around the world, who are trying to share the good news about Christ, build churches and help people in great need.
(2)   Their budget is almost $221K a year or over $4K a week

b)     Impact

(1)   Because you give, we’re able to help 34 individuals and their families who are working around the world – point out the flags, people like Doug and Mandy Priore, CBC missionaries, a homegrown who is reaching Palestinian children through a Christian school in Bethlehem.
(2)   The missions budget also supports short term trips like the teen summer missions trips to SF, NO, ME – giving our teens life changing experiences of God

I mean life-changing: letter I received

“Dear Mike, I wanted to let you know what I’ll be doing later this summer.  The earliest roots of my desire to be involved in missions go back to a teen summer missions trip through FCCH.  I don’t know if I ever told you – the youth group and the meaty messages were the major reason I ended up at a Christian school for college.  I don’t know if God will call me to go somewhere as a missionary.  I do hope so!”

This letter comes from a young adult woman who is in Asia, looking into joining a mission that brings the good news about Jesus to a group of people, many of whom who have never heard about Christ.

3.    Discretionary Fund

a)     Facts

The Discretionary fund helps people in crisis and in need – we help people with their rent and mortgage, food for their family, oil for heat in the winter, car repairs so they work.  Every cent that comes into the Discretionary Fund goes directly to helping people.

b)     Impact: last year we were able to give $32,500 to people on your behalf – these people wouldn’t have come to you for help but they did come to us

4.    Building

a)     Facts:

(1)   We took out a $3 Million 24 year loan in March, 2005 – with a monthly mortgage payment of almost $19K
(2)   In Dec. 2008 we’re going to have to refinance the loan to current market rates – this means we’ll pay more for interest. 
(3)   the building fund goes to paying down the principle on the building’s addition.  We try to pay the interest of the mortgage payment out of the Home Ministry so that we can dedicate more funds to paying down the debt as quickly as possible. 

b)     Impact:

(1)   In the first 7 months of this calendar year, we paid $230K directly into the principle (above & beyond our mortgage payment) – saving us about $460K in interest
(2)   The sooner we pay off the mortgage, the sooner we can release that money to doing more for God’s Kingdom

B.   How do I give to these areas?

1.    You can write it down on your giving envelope – show one

If you don’t have giving envelopes, sign up for some in the lobby – you can ask the Information Desk for help.

2.    You can make a note right in the memo of a check and we’ll disburse it

3.    You can give electronically – automatic checking – this helps our because it keeps the giving coming in on a regular basis which helps us keep ministry flowing and the bills paid.

4.    You can put money in the plate – all that undesignated money that is put in the plate goes directly to Home Ministries.

C.   Challenge

This church is raising God’s reputation all around the world – by working alongside of Him, lives are being transformed.

Come this fall, this place will be teaming with over a thousand people involved in and being touched by all our ministries.  What part will you play in that?  How will you mobilize this church for ministry?

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