Conventional wisdom says that there are three things you simply don’t talk about in polite conversation: religion, politics, and money. To enter into a conversation on any one of these subjects today is to risk entering into a heated battle regardless of the congenial nature of your relationship with your conversation partner. While it is virtually impossible to avoid conversations about politics as we prepare to cast our votes in a presidential election, it is just as impossible to separate conversations about money from conversations about religion, at least when it comes to the church.
As Christ-followers, each conversation we have about money is also a conversation about our faith. Christ seemed to offer more lessons and parables on the subject of money and its relationship to living as part of God’s kingdom (mostly that it gets in the way) than almost any other subject. As a result, our faith must speak to the way that we understand, spend, and share our money. The inescapable truth is that how we spend our money matters. It is how we communicate our concerns, our preferences, and our priorities.
As Christians we are called to be good stewards of the resources with which we have been blessed, both as individuals and as a congregation. While always ensuring our family’s needs are met, we are also called by Christ to give to the ministries of Christ’s kingdom in ways that invest in its future. That is why we give to the ministries of the church.
During the fall season many churches, including ours, are focusing on the congregation’s stewardship. Many have annual campaigns to encourage their congregations to make a pledge to support the ministries they will try to accomplish in the coming year. “If you gave to the ministries of the church in the last year,” they will ask, “how much more might you be able to give in the coming year?” These are important conversations, because when we write the church budget we are not simply looking at the expenses we have that must be met. More importantly, we are looking at the budget as a ministry plan. Each line item represents a ministry that we are called to support as a congregation, and, though we do not have an annual pledge campaign, we are always working to raise the funds necessary to ensure our ministries are accomplished.
As we move through the final quarter of the year, and as we look to our plans for 2017, let me thank you for the ways you so diligently support our ministries. We have set faithful financial goals for our congregation, and we believe that God will enable us to meet them. Let me, therefore, also encourage you to continue to financially support our ministries in the coming weeks and months.
As of the end of September, we are a little under $18,000 behind our expected congregational giving for 2016. This should be a challenge to us, but it is one we can meet. The good news is that we have kept our expenses at an appropriate level, and we are still ahead of where we were in total giving at this point last year. While we are in excellent financial shape overall, we must also recognize that it can prove difficult for us to make plans for the coming year if we do not know if our current goals will be met.
We have exceeded our budgetary giving for the past two years, and I am confident that this third year will see the same result. You have always been faithful to the goals we have set for our congregation, because you have felt connected to the ministries of our church. You also want to ensure those ministries are available to others in the foreseeable future. As you analyze the way you will set your personal financial priorities for the coming year, please consider how you might be able to continue to invest in the ministries of Augusta Road Baptist Church as we work together to build upon the wonderful things God is doing among us.
As always, know of my prayers and my gratitude for your faithfulness to the ministries to which God calls us.
Rev. W. Mattison King