Why do you give money to the church?
I suppose there are lots of reasons out there, maybe as many as there are people giving money. I suspect all of those reasons fall into one of these categories: Some people give out of a sense of habit. Some people give out of a sense of obligation. Some people give to keep the institution alive. Some people give out of a sense of guilt (I wish I could figure out a way to stop this one). Some people give because they see it as a way to act like Jesus. Some people give to create a sense of investment in the church and what it stands for. And some people give to further the mission of the church.
I was going to say that I give to the church for the last two of these reasons, but if I’m honest with myself, I also give out of a sense of obligation. The church is important to me and so I feel an obligation to contribute to keep it going. I don’t know how spiritually healthy that is, but it is honestly one of the reasons I make a pledge each year to support the church financially.
I also give in part to connect myself more deeply with the church. I know I spend money on the things that matter to me (food, for instance), so giving to the church makes me feel more invested in the church. But the most important reason I give is that I care about what our church is doing.
Following the example of Jesus, Niles Discovery Church welcomes all people, grows in our relationship with God and each other, and serves our neighbors near and far.
That is how we have articulated our mission as a church. That is how we have said we embody and carrying the great commandments – to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We tend to think of love as a feeling, a feeling connected to romance. But love (at least as I understand these commandments) is a decision to act, to act for the good of another person or the community. Love is an action that asserts the worth of the other. In some cases, the actions of love – actions for the good of others – may be motivated by tenderness and compassion. In all cases, the actions of love are centered in a choice, a sometimes painful choice, to act for the ultimate benefit of other individuals and the community.
We’ve said that Niles Discovery Church carries out this love by choosing to welcome all people (and “all” really does mean all), to grow in our relationships with God and each other, and to find opportunities for service to our fellow human beings.
Jesus demonstrated this kind of love, a generous overflowing love. And he calls us, his disciples, to love in the same way – with generous, overflowing love. Which gets us to the theme of this year’s pledge campaign: The Generous Way of Jesus. The invitation of this pledge campaign is to choose, as stewards of the resources we have access to in our lives, to use them to be more generous with our love as lived out in the mission and ministry of Niles Discovery Church.
In the coming weeks, you’ll hear sermons and testimonies about the Generous Way of Jesus. You’ll receive letters and emails about the Generous Way of Jesus. And you will be invited to make a financial pledge of support of the mission of our church in 2018 that we hope will draw you more deeply into the Generous Way of Jesus. I hope you will join us on this journey.
Peace, Pastor Jeff