A preacher friend tweeted the other day: “Churches spend more time on the spending plan than the funding plan, and then complain about the lack of giving.” Fortunately, I do not believe that describes us.
In the three years we've been together, I have watched Salem be faithful, generous, and sacrificial in your giving. Not every pastor can say that because it is not true of every church; or even any church at all times.
Since coming here as your pastor, I haven't been reluctant to talk about money. Some of you know why: it gives me a fabulous opportunity to brag on God!
In the last few years I’ve tried to look carefully at how/why/when people in the Christian church (and in our culture at large) choose to give. I want to understand why we give (or don’t give) the ways we do so that I can persuasively and helpfully lead us to give – and live – differently.
One of the insights I’ve gained from reading and from experience is this: We often imagine that giving to one cause trades off with giving to another. Certainly that’s possible. Many of us wish to give to more good causes than we can (or believe we can). But in the church that does not happen nearly as often as we are tempted to think. The money for these “competing interests” tends to come from different pockets.
Some people think we shouldn’t give money to international missions (like our upcoming trip to Mexico) because they think that those gifts trade-off with money that should be given to local causes; or vice-versa. But most often, the people who are going to give to one aren’t going to give in the same way to another, so a church makes a mistake if it forfeits the opportunity to one for the sake of the other. The church should do both … because, in many cases, the money comes out of different pockets. The same could be said of domestic mission trips like our upcoming trip to North Carolina and local service projects.
Sure: there will be some people for whom a local church’s aggressive vision for missions will force some tough choices. But that kind of variety also allows people with different passions and priorities to give generously to the projects they believe in most and the needs that touch their hearts.
That’s pragmatic and sterile and not at all touchy-feely; but it remains true nevertheless. And it is one of the reason our vision for missions is as comprehensive as it is.
But there’s another reason, too: Jesus said to do it! In Acts 1:8 Jesus says that his followers are to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Here. There. Everywhere.
Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for giving as you give. Thank you for making my family welcome in your hearts and lives. Thank you for making my being your pastor such a joy.
Pray with me about the legacy we will leave and about the good future that God has for us as we live life together on this side of the Jordan and take possession of the Promised Land.
Dan has been the Pastor of Salem UMC since June, 2017. He loves preaching, the Atlanta Braves, beach vacations, and precious time with his wife Brenda and their grown sons. Read More . . .