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  • We are coming to the end of our fiscal year for us as a church. As pastor, I am grateful and proud. I am grateful because God has been extremely generous to us and given us the opportunity to give in His honor. I am proud because over the past twelve years our team has managed what has been given in such a way that have ended in the black each year, living within the means of what has been given.


    This special series is to speak to the issue of generosity. I want to take a few minutes over the next couple weeks to answer two questions, “Why should we give generously?” And secondly, “What happens to what we give?”


    First, why should we give generously through our church?


    1. Generosity is a character trait of God our Father (James 1:17). Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He created all things, and therefore owns all things. Yet He is generous in providing for and giving to us.

    2. God has told us that generosity brings blessing to us (Proverbs 22:9; Psalm 112:5; 2 Corinthians 9:11). He encourages us to be like Him, for He created the world to function this way. It is a recognition of His ownership and our stewardship. That means that all “things” are to be used for His glory rather than for hoarding or amassing them for ourselves.

    3. The level of our generosity is reflective of our relationship with God (Matthew 6:24). Jesus indicated that we can’t serve two masters. Either we view God as God and our resources as tools to honor Him or we idolize money and seek to get as much of it as possible. We can’t do both.

    4. Generosity brings joy and cheerfulness (2 Corinthians 9:7; Acts 20:35). We are blessed when we give. And every decision we make about our giving should not be under compulsion, but by a thoughtful, strategic decision flowing from a heart of generosity. Thoughtful, intentional giving causes us to well up with great joy.

    5. God is choosing to showcase His economy, His generosity through His people, the Church (1 Timothy 6:18; 2 Corinthians 9:6; 2 Corinthians 8:15). God wants to show off what it means for those who are rich to share willingly and for those who have extra when others have nothing to give joyfully to help. We know that all material things will disappear one day, so using them now for the care of people and the funding of ministry is a demonstration of the heart of God who has given us all things for our enjoyment.


    We could point to several other reasons for generosity, but you get the idea. In fact, God commanded that the Israelites give the first 10% of their crops, called a tithe, to Him through the Temple to provide for those who served at the Temple and to assist the poor. In addition, there were other offerings that the people gave sacrificially, all of them to either demonstrate their love for the Lord or to be used to help others in need or take care of the Temple itself. The poor and needy were a high priority on the heart of God.


    We believe in this age of grace that we should begin with a tithe and then go beyond, according to what we have decided in our hearts to give. Grace frees us to be even more generous.


    Next week, I want to give you a kind of end-of-the-year update on where our finances are at the church and where the money that has been given has gone.

  • In this second installment of the Heart of Generosity, I want to give you an update on where we are as a church financially. Our fiscal year runs from June 1st to May 31st of the following year. People ask me at different times how we are doing financially. We are always happy to give you an update. And we will try to do so more frequently in the years ahead. Giving is a spiritual issue, not a financial issue. As we saw in the Scriptures on Sunday, “where your treasure is, your heart is also.” They go together. We are passionate about the things we pour resources into.

     

    Some quick background. On average, we have around 400 giving units in the church. That means week to week, an average of 400 different homes contribute something to our general fund. In addition, money is given for missions and to eliminate the debt. The average household income in Erie County is $60,652. That means if each of our households were tithing, honoring the Lord with 10% of their gross earnings into the general fund, we would receive $2,426,000 in a year. Our budget for this year was $2,278,000. If every home was tithing or we averaged that amount by some giving less and some giving more, we would have $128,000 extra in the general fund. How did we do?

     

    We have a couple weeks left in this fiscal year, but if giving is the same over these last couple weeks, we will close the year receiving roughly $30,000 to $40,000 below the budget for the year. At the same time, we will end the year in the black because of managing our spending based on giving. That is less than 2% below budget. That is commendable in light of the other giving.

     

    Missions giving for the year is such that we will meet all of our commitments and have some left for extra blessings.

     

    The Immeasurably More Campaign received $289,075 this fiscal year up to May 12. Overall, since beginning in January 2021 we are almost to the 50% mark of our goal of $1,042,000 by May 2024. This is a great praise. This is above and beyond our tithes. In addition, I know there is giving to other causes as well, like the sponsorship of over 200 children around the world through families in our church.

     

    For this coming year, the Board has approved a budget of $2,323,422, a slight increase over last year. This includes both the required minimum wage increases for hourly employees and a small 2% increase for most other positions. It also anticipates increases in utilities and other services. We have worked hard at keeping the personnel part of the budget neutral, meaning no new hires, and in fact over the past couple years have lowered staffing through attrition and moving some positions from full time to part time.

     

    Thank you for honoring the Lord with your giving. If you have any questions, please ask.