God is Always Changing
Making the Shift from Church-Focused to Kingdom-Focused

The Church Modeling Stewardship & Generosity (or "Why We're Giving Away $36,000?")

Churches and pastors are good at promoting the message that people should tithe and give generously, cut up credit cards, eliminate debt and save accordingly. The only problem is that while the message is true and right, often the church doesn't actually model that very well.

Hands lightThat's why I am so excited to share once again that the financial leadership team of the church (made up of laypersons) continues to lead us to a place where ministry continues to be done and missions is supported, at increased levels, while saving, giving and eliminating debt is being modeled.

As the church models this as a whole, it is much easier for me and you to see how it should be done in our individual lives.

So, here we are once again. A surplus of funds from regular tithes and offerings from the past six months allows us to worship God through our actions. Like I said Sunday, talk is cheap. This is more than just talk.

We shared at our quarterly meeting last Sunday evening the details, but let me explain them here.

A net "income" has accumulated over the past six months. This was carried over from 2011 and now we are at a place to distribute funds accordingly.

The total amount to distribute is $143,504. From this, per the distribution scale developed last year, the following is happening now:

  1. We are "paying" our accrual accounts a total of $23,673 to bring us up to where we should be as of 3/31/2012. The accrual accounts are new and designed to provide funds for replacement and upkeep of high cost items (i.e. A/C units, roofs, transportation).

  2. This leaves us with $119,831. Of this, the distribution is as follows:

    1. 40% for capital improvements and/or debt reduction. The total amount is $47,933. Of this, $16,016 was spent in January for the purchase of our needed new sound system in the Worship Center. That amount will be applied to the Music Ministry Budget to put it back in order for the remaining ministry needs for the year. The remaining $31,917 is available for capital improvements and/or debt reduction. Most likely this amount will go towards new signage around campus and the stage rebuild in the Worship Center. These things will take place over time this year since they will cost more than $31,917 and we will not spend money we do not have.

    2. 30% will go in our Emergency/Opportunity Fund. The total is $35,949. This fund is being filled to provide us "rainy day" funds. These are for real emergencies such as fire, hurricane, etc. that may cause us to close for a number of weeks.

    3. 30% of the funds will be given away to Gospel-centered ministries. This is our church being generous and aiding in the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. The total amount is $35,949 (however, we have been told by one individual that they will give $51 to make it a nice round $36,000.) Here's who we are blessing this month:

      • $5,000 to Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, North Carolina and church planter Andrew Hopper.

      • $5,000 to Caleb Crider, church planter in Portland, Oregon.

      • $5,000 to Sean Benesh, church planter in Portland, Oregon.

      • $5,000 to Matt Jolley, church planter in Portland, Oregon.

      • $5,000 to Anthony Harris, church planter in Vancouver, Washington.

      • $5,000 Clay Holcomb, church planter and pastor of Trinity Church in Happy Valley, Oregon.

      • $3,000 to the Clay County First Coast Women's Services.

      • $3,000 to Living Water International to provide clean water and the message of life through Jesus Christ in Guatemala.

It's an exciting time to be at First Baptist. I've never experienced anything like this. I pray that we remain faithful and focused and continue in this story.

When you see these numbers, in addition to what we were able to do last fall, it's astounding. Also, this is in addition to what we do regularly through our giving to the Cooperative Program, Associational Missions, the Orange Park Clothes Closet, the Florida Baptist Children's Homes, the benevolent gifts distributed regularly through our Deacons, and more. 

Some may not fully understand why we do this, especially the giving away of funds to ministries not in our own backyard and not seemingly benefiting us locally. It's the Acts 1:8 model. We aren't forgetting or ignoring the local mission. We are just living obediently to reach "Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world" at the same time.

Whether we all get it or not, I truly believe God is smiling on us.

We are blessing ministries that focus on women and children, orphans, the least of these, and church planters and missionaries. Sounds very biblical, doesn't it?

As we model what godly stewardship looks like, I pray that we (me included) will begin to make the changes necessary to get our own houses in order. Let's get out from under the debt that keeps us in bondage. Let's live unselfishly and generously.

Oh, by the way, for information on personal stewardship as well as helpful resources for you and your family, go to this page on our website (it's more than just the portal to online giving.)  - http://www.fbc-orangepark.org/giveonline.html.

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