Ask, Imagine, Abundance
I hope I’m telling you something you already know, but 2015 was a remarkable year in the life of a church that has had many remarkable years. Here are just a few of the highlights:
• We rekindled our relationship with our brothers and sisters at First Baptist on New Street in partnership with the New Baptist Covenant.
• We embarked on our Write the Vision process to dream together about our future with intentionality and focus.
• 2015 was a banner year for missions. In addition to the roughly 175 folks from the church who served in hands-on mission work last year, our church also gave over $150,000 to missions efforts both through the budget and extra-budget gifts.
• In fact, 2015 was a tremendous year in giving in a number of ways. The nearly $710,000 given toward the budget was the most since 2008, and the total gifts to the church rang in at over $1.1 million—the most in some time and by a lot.
These numbers reflect remarkable generosity that needs to be celebrated, but there is one number that requires our attention.
While budget gifts were the most since 2008, our expenses were even more, resulting in a roughly $35,000 deficit. We have a sizable operating reserve, so this is not an issue in the short term, but it is a trend that obviously not continue in the long term. Church leadership has reviewed the numbers and the short answer behind the rise in our expenses is that we’re simply doing more as a church. As Rodney Goff, our Chair of Finance put it, all of these increases are good increases; they’re exactly the kind of increases you want in a vibrant, healthy and growing church.
So this is our special challenge for the year ahead: to match our gifts to the operating budget with all the other gifts we’re offering to God and this church the way of our time, energy, compassion and love. And it will not take much to make a big difference if each of us does a little. My invitation to you, as we look to the year ahead with anticipation of all that God will continue to do among us, is this: join me in asking and imagining.
Ask yourself how you and your family have experienced the presence of God in this place and among these people. And from this, ask yourself and as a family what small thing more we can do to show our support for all the good things we see happening here among us, and ensure they keep happening, along with so many more. Maybe it’s something as small as a few dollars a week, $50 or $100 more a month. Maybe it’s 1/2% more than you planned last fall. Maybe it’s something more. Whatever the case, join me in asking this of yourself and talking about it as a family. Audrey and I have already started talking about what we can do. Talk about it, and by all means, pray about it.
And as we ask ourselves all these things, I you also invite you to imagine what more God has in store for us as a church. Imagine all that God can do through us in this community. Imagine what families will be touched, what hope will be offered, what love will be shown and to whom.
Ask, and then imagine. And when you do, when we do, I promise you what will be revealed is nothing short of abundance. Because we are a people of abundance, not because of anything we have or anything we’ve done, but because of the story we’ve chosen to claim as our own: the good news that from God all things come, in Christ all people are loved, and with the Holy Spirit all things are possible. This is our story, and it’s one that the people who have called themselves the First Baptist Church of Christ have been telling for many years now, and with God’s help and yours, we’ll continue to tell it new ways for years to come.