Last month, I shared with you the challenge of our finances here at ECC and invited us all to pray about our giving. Might God be asking us to give more, or to give more intentionally, or (for those of us who’ve not given in the past) to start giving altogether? I wrote then that, unless some things changed in our stewardship practices here at ECC, we would be eating into our Strategic Ministry Fund at the rate of about $10,000 a month! However, as I shared in worship yesterday, it is my great joy to tell you that during the month of October, we met and slightly exceeded the necessary amount to cover our operational expenses at ECC! And that hasn’t happened in several months. We did this together and I want to thank you.
With all of the challenges we’ve had in the previous five months, what made the difference in October? How did we do that? We did it with the power of faithful intentionality.
In 2 Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul urges his readers to give generously but never to do so begrudgingly. In v.7, he writes, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” There is so much in this one verse, but this month, let’s zero in on one phrase. Paul instructs them to give what they have decided in their hearts to give. That implies a faithful and intentional plan. It implies a prayerful consideration of our income, our current giving practices and our reasons for giving, and it implies that we are seeking to hear from the Spirit.
For some of us, this kind of planned, faithful, intentionality has been our practice for years. Kim and began being intentional about our giving from day one in our marriage. We looked at our income, we prayed about it, and we have always aimed at giving 10% of our income, at least. For some of us, we may be more spontaneous in our giving—and spontaneity can be used by the Spirit of God, too. But my challenge to all of us is to take our cues from the Apostle Paul, as many of us have already done for the month of October. That is, let us spend time this week asking God to show us what we should “decide in your hearts to give” in the coming months. And let us commit to that number, whatever it is.
Some of us are already there. Great! For others, our practice may have been simply to see what feels right on a particular Sunday. If that is the case for you, I invite you to step out into a new level of faith and a more deeply into the adventure of trusting God. And then make a commitment give accordingly in the coming months. Our fiscal year ends on June 30. Maybe you could make a commitment to give what you decide through June 30. If not, what can you commit to? The next three months? Six months? A whole year? Prayerfully decide a period of time, an amount, and the frequency of giving (weekly or monthly), and follow through with faithful intentionality. One of the most helpful tools for this kind of giving can be done as e-giving where you can set up automatic gifts using your bank account or a credit card. Click this link to find out more and sign up.
At the end of your commitment, I encourage you to evaluate your experience. Have you experienced God’s goodness during that time? God’s provision? Were you able to give cheerfully? Does God want you to continue this practice further into the future?
In the past, ECC has always been a generous church—especially when it comes to special appeals and projects. This month and this year, we’re asking for a new kind of generosity: prayerful, faithful, intentionality in your giving. And, along the way, we are trusting that God will use it to transform us as a congregation and each of us, individually, as followers of Jesus. Let’s keep up the good work!