God has truly been working through His people at First Baptist Church. Over the past few years, He has led us to strategically focus on three primary Kingdom expanding emphases: Church Planting, Orphan Care and Global Missions.
As you may know, for the past two years, God has allowed us to model proper stewardship for members of the church by how we handle the financial gifts He has provided. We desire to model good stewardship through the tithe (yes, we know the local church is not instructed to "tithe" but we choose to model this by giving a tenth - actually more than a tenth - of every dollar to Cooperative Program Missions,) debt reduction, repair and upkeep of property, savings and generous giving.
Every six months (in October and in May) we evaluate our giving and spending. For the past couple of years, our giving has exceeded spending. Money in the "overage" has been distributed in three specific areas. One-third goes to debt retirement/facility upkeep, one-third to savings in an "Emergency Fund" (in case a hurricane or other real emergency were to hit) and one-third is given to Gospel-centric ministries focused on expanding God's kingdom.
Our giving generously has been to ministries in the three areas of focus: church planting, orphan care and global missions.
This week we are pleased to share that we have been able to put money into a fund for debt retirement/upkeep with the focus on repairs in the Student Center, Worship Center and yes, painting the steeple. We have been able to place funds in our emergency fund, working toward a total of $300,000 in this fund and are able to generously give $18,000 away to ministries expanding God's Kingdom.
We are able to bless three church planters and one ministry focused on compassionate care to those in great need with gifts at this time.
MIKE HAUSER - Church Planter/Pastor of Starting Point Church in Burlington, Ontario
First Baptist Church is strategically partnered with Starting Point for the next three years. This church plant launched earlier this year. I will be leading a group of pastors from Jacksonville to Ontario this September and while there will meet with Mike and others. We have already tentatively planned a student ministry mission trip over next Spring Break to this area to work with Mike. Mike is a former youth pastor in Toronto and followed God's lead to plant Starting Point.
We have known Caleb for a couple of years and our most recent mission team to Portland met with him and numerous other church planters in the city. Caleb is serving in a hard-to-impact area of Portland, but is seeing breakthrough. This city is #11 on the most "post-Christian" cities in America. Caleb's understanding of missional living is inspiring. He is co-author of the book Tradecraft which we require our mission teams to read and work through before launching out. He is an active leader of the Portland Church Planting Network. First Baptist Church is committed to working alongside Caleb for the next three years as a partner in planting.
CHASE DELPERDANG - Church Planter/Pastor of Legacy Church in Tucson, Arizona
We have partnered with Chase for almost three years. His leadership at Legacy Church has led to many God-stories. He and his wife, Jennie, have an expanding family and as with all our church planters, there are financial needs that seemingly come from nowhere. Our continued partnership with Chase enables us to have an impact in another of our nation's most "post-Christian" cities.
MERCY SUPPORT SERVICES - Rescue Ministry in Clay County
This ministry is local, but we must remember "global missions" begins right outside our front door. This ministry is focused on helping those in need who cannot seem to get a break. Through this network, churches and organizations throughout our community are able to minister to and help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.
Some may never understand the value in giving generously to such ministries. Yet, we know this is God's desire, not just for the church, but for each Christ-follower.
We are truly blessed and understand that God blesses us so that we may be a blessing. May His Kingdom increase in Ontario, Portland, Tucson, Orange Park and throughout the world. May we remain faithful to His calling.