Thursday, July 30, 2015
Letters from the Soul: This Month's Newsletter Column + New Sermon Series
The rapper Snoop Dogg (yep, actually gonna quote him in a church newsletter article) is reported to have said once, "If you stop at general math, you're only going to make general math money." It was a comment on education--the shallower you go into educating yourself, the less you will be able to provide for yourself in the marketplace of jobs and employment. It's a pretty sound life lesson--from a guy who led an army of angry gummy bears in Katy Perry's "California Girls" music video, but still, the lesson still stands.
And I think it is a sentiment that goes beyond simply measuring personal income--it is a part of our own income as a church as well. If you stop at just the pew, and never want to get plugged in to any of the programs, small groups, missions, or other amazing work we do, it's a tough sell to want to invest yourself into our church or any church. People don't feel like giving their time, talents, and treasure to an unfamiliar cause, and understandably so. Jesus knew what he was talking about when He said in the Sermon on the Mount, "where your treasure is, there your heart is as well"--we tend to invest our treasure to whatever is dear to our heart.
In other words, how we spend and give our money is an expression of values. If we value the experience of speeding down the highway, we may own a sports car or a convertible. If we value eating out, the chef at the Rutherford may know us on a first-name basis. And when we value and become invested in a church, we give back to that church community.
The tough thing for us, though, is that as we've grown in faith, numbers, and impact in the community, our finances haven't followed suit. It used to be that it would--growth in numbers would inevitably lead to growth in income for a church. But that isn't the case for us--we live in a tough community with lots of economic pain and hardship, and that definitely includes us. We have been drawing on our savings substantially lately, and that is simply not sustainable in the long term.
To that end, I have explored a few different opportunities for renting out parts of our beautiful facilities to longterm tenants like schools or other churches, but none of those opportunities panned out. So if we want to continue to be a church that offers way, way more to the community than simply general math, but to instead be that church we have always been that offers depth and profoundness and purpose to one's Christian identity, we will need to find more resources in order to be able to do that. Such resources have not as yet materialized, but I know that God is good, and we must continue to have faith that God will provide for us. But that provision also starts with us.
As you are willing and able to give, your financial gifts to the church go an awful long ways to not just keeping the doors open and the worship services on, they also make possible the life-changing, soul-sized work that I and all of you that I am proud to call my church are engaged in. And for the chance to be able to continue that work and to grow upon it, I thank you.
Yours in Christ,
New Sermon Series
August of this year is a month I have been looking forward to in a while as far as my preaching and teaching is concerned--it is where I'll be delivering the bulk of the sermon series that we just started last Sunday, July 26th--"The Writing on the Wall: Daniel & King Belshazzar," which goes verse-by-verse through one of my favorite stories in the Bible for its palace intrigue, suspense, and parallels to other stories like Joseph before Pharaoh: Daniel interpreting the writing that appears on the wall during a lavish feast thrown by the Babylonian king Belshazzar. We'll pick back up with that series for three more weeks in August, and I'm looking forward to all of it!
I'll see you Sunday,
"The Writing on the Wall: Daniel & King Belshazzar"
July 26: "You Have Been Weighed," Daniel 5:1-9
August 2: “You Have Been Measured,” Daniel 5:10-16
August 9: “You Have Been Found Wanting,” Daniel 5:17-23
August 16: “Your Kingdom Will Be Divided,” Daniel 5:24-30