Every now and then it’s a good thing to look back and take a second look at past practices that served us well, particularly those practices that helped form us into the people we are. That’s also a good practice for a church to pursue from time to time. Indeed, in this 75th Anniversary year we have done so in various ways in order both to celebrate our heritage and to use it as a springboard for the good future we believe God has for us to know. I’m especially excited about our church’s Stewardship Team’s decision to take this approach with our annual Generosity Sunday, which this year will be on April 7.
You may remember how in recent years we have taken a designated Sunday in the springtime and encouraged our members to participate in a giving campaign designed to put into practice our church mission, “Love God. Live with Grace and Generosity.” Last year, we committed a tithe of the proceeds from the campaign to a local missions partner, M-POWER Ministries, which seeks to provide local folk paths out of poverty. That decision was so well received that the Stewardship Team thought it a good idea to dedicate this year’s offering entirely to missions.
I concur wholeheartedly with their sense of God’s leading. For one thing, it gives needed clarity to the Generosity Sunday offering, which has for some unintentionally implied that our people aren’t generous the rest of the year. With this approach we provide clear definition to how this special offering goes for a purpose above and beyond our generous support of our regular church ministry plan (i.e., budget). And for another thing, this approach will enable us to reclaim an important part of our Baptist heritage in utilizing such offerings to supplement our support for missions. Many of us grew up with such offerings around Christmas and Easter. “Lottie” and “Annie” were names that were code language among Baptists in the South. Now, in our Anniversary year, we’ll be turning back a page to consider increasing our church’s already significant commitment to missions. Our Missions Committee will be proposing an allocation plan that will ensure that our generous response will touch international, national, and local causes. And lastly, in the Lenten season, what better way to consider sacrificing something to position ourselves to take on something else more holy? Making a special offering beyond our regular gifts to the church will require many of us to alter our spending patterns and forego conveniences in order to support necessities. Perhaps the joy of our sacrifice will spur us to consider how giving to the advance of the Gospel is worth everything we have, even as in Christ God gave everything He had to us.
You’ll be hearing stories of the blessings that have come from generosity from various persons in our church over the next several Sundays. We’ll hear from folk across the generational spectrum in our church because of how generosity isn’t so much defined by a dollar amounts as it is by the capacity of one’s soul.
As we move toward this year’s Generosity Sunday, which again will be on April 7, begin praying about your own participation, as well as everyone else’s participation in our church. One of the marks of an exemplary church is its willingness to go above and beyond the usual expressions in order to accomplish something truly extraordinary. Such exemplary accomplishment is a goal surely all of us can support, even as our church has consistently done throughout our history, and one we can do with great generosity.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).