Suncrest’s generosity

Our “Exponential Offering” saw another surge last weekend and we’ve now passed our first goal of gifts and commitments over $85,000.  I love your commitment to this vision of becoming one church in two locations!! 

And, I still have hopes that we will cross the $100,000 mark so we can implement a wonderful addition to our children’s ministry check-in process at both our east campus (Merrillville/Hobart) and west campus (St. John).

 I’m often “blown away” by the generosity of Suncrest people.  They rise to every occasion when we present a vision for what can be accomplished.  Consider this…

 In the context of a less than stellar economy and now $4 gas…

·         Our regular offerings have increased almost 100% since 2003.

·         We’ve done special offerings in the spring the last 3 years that have averaged over $100,000 each.

·         Our Christmas Eve special offering always goes fully to benevolence needs and has steadily grown.  Last year it was over $30,000.

·         Late summer is always a special offering for a church plant and last year’s was over $12,000.

I had a fellow pastor ask me to identify the reasons for this the other day, so I’ve given it some thought.  Here’s my reflection on it…

 1.  As a church, we give enormous amounts of money away.   A full 10% of our budget and most of the special offerings are given to plant churches and help people on need.  And where there is something to benefit us, we make sure we still give at least 10% of that away.  We gave away 10% of our capital campaigns.  The Bible repeatedly links God’s blessing with generosity.  It is a sewing and reaping principle that seems counter-intuitive to some– the more you give the more you receive — but works wonderfully in God’s economy.

2.  Our leaders lead in generosity.  We actually check on the giving levels of ministry staff and elders, along with the business management team to make sure we are modeling it.  If there is a situation where someone is falling behind, we talk about it.  It’s always redemptive, but never ignored.

3.  We never link generosity teaching to our budget need.  I know this shocks some people, but I distance these two things as far as I possibly can from each other.  Generosity is about you and God, not you and the church budget.  The reason people don’t give is because of fear they won’t have enough and selfishness…no church budget overcomes that.  Growing a trust-relationship with God does, though.

4.  We teach tithing.  We do it sensitively, but unapologetically.  We also do it regularly (at least once a year).  Why wouldn’t you?  You can argue it is an Old Testament principle and the New Testament doesn’t demand it.  OK, but as I read the NT, it pretty much asks us to subscribe to most every OT principle and go beyond it.  And, sluggish economy or not, we are wealthy so I can’t imagine asking people to do less than the OT baseline for generosity.  On top of that, when we give we receive blessing.  I get stories about this all the time and I’m actually afraid if I don’t teach tithing that people will miss out on the blessings they would receive.

5.  We celebrate the difference our generosity makes.  Every time there is a story of God using our church or a program we offered or a benevolence need we met or whatever…I try to celebrate it by showing how God has worked and thanking people for their generosity that helped us meet the need.  Giving to a budget is boring.  Seeing how your gifts make a difference is inspiring.  Use stories as much as you can.

6.  We are sensitive to generosity fatigue.  We have done three special offerings a year for a while– but we wisely space them out.  And, we say “no” to almost any other special offering.  I think our one and only exception in the last 4 years was for Hurricane Katrina Relief.  Our large special offerings in the spring are part of our plan to delay further major capital campaigns — and we make a point to communicate that clearly.  I see churches that don’t plan for this “nickle and dime” people to death with need after need, and in the end none of them really have people captured by the vision.  It just wears them out.

~ by Greg Lee on May 23, 2008.

One Response to “Suncrest’s generosity”

  1. Good stuff Greg.

    1. As a church, we give enormous amounts of money away.

    I think that this one is very valuable. People often view the church with the mindset of, “they’re only after my money.” People often cringe when money comes up in the church. It is a touchy subject (and Christians don’t always have the best track record either). But hopefully people will see that the money that is given to the church is to spread the Gospel and nothing else.

    tim

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