October brings a host of expected events: OU/Texas football, Friday night homecoming walk-around in Stillwater, cooler temperatures, sweeter weather, and an annual Stewardship Campaign for the Church. It is possible not all the fall happenings listed are met with the same degree of enthusiasm, but each plays an important role within our annual cycle.
There are two facets of the Stewardship Campaign I want to discuss: the financial and the spiritual aspects. While the two are certainly interrelated, they each have their individual centers.
It would be difficult to understate the importance of the Stewardship Campaign from a financial perspective as it serves to establish a baseline for our ministry plans for the coming year. The operating budget for Church of the Servant currently sits at just over $4 million dollars annually, with an additional $1.5 million dollars in capital expenses and monies drawn from designated gifts to the congregation. It is necessary each year to generate this revenue stream, as there are few if any funds set aside in reserve.
While this pattern requires a great deal of faith, we believe it is an appropriate response. Our desire is to pour each dollar into current ministry today, rather than storing it away for some potential future need. The leadership of the congregation strives to be diligent in the financial stewardship of the congregation and I believe the results speak for themselves. As we enter into the final months of 2016, we are celebrating an unexpected surplus from operations as well as a nearly $1 million reduction in our total indebtedness in the past twelve months.
As we plan for the coming year, each pledge, whether from a longtime Church of the Servant member or a family who has just recently joined, is important to our ministries. Each pledge, whether large or small, makes a difference. Whether we are paying an electric bill that averages $411 a day or purchasing a $12 book to support a Sunday school curriculum, your giving, no matter the amount, makes the ministries of this wonderful congregation possible and contributes to changed lives in the name of Jesus Christ. As you consider your estimate of giving for the coming year, I would ask you to prayerfully consider what God would have you do.
While the financial aspect of a Stewardship Campaign might seem to dominate the discussion, particularly when we consider what our individual giving might do for someone else, the question of how our giving impacts us as the “giver” is just as important. The spiritual discipline of giving is deeply rooted in Scripture as from Genesis to Revelation. The idea of an offering to God in response to what we have received is ever present. Our giving is not conditional; we do not give with the expectation of blessing (spiritual or material) to occur, and our giving in no way obligates God in our favor. The change is not in God, but in us. We give as a recognition that all we have we have first received as a gift – whether in the form of financial resources or the strength, skill, and ability to generate them. Our giving is an acknowledgement that from our first dollar to our last, we are dependent upon God in all things.
May you find joy in the month of October and relish each and every aspect – even an annual Stewardship Campaign. God is at work changing the seasons, and changing our hearts as year-by-year we grow in the likeness of Christ.