Famous racecar driver Mario Andretti once said, “If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.” I’ve been thinking about this quote as Covenant Sunday approaches here at Central, specifically as it relates to making a financial pledge to the church. There have been times that I have been guilty of giving financially to the church only what is comfortable, what keeps me in control and doesn’t push me outside my comfort zone. It’s mostly due to fear and a lack of trust that God will provide. I tend to forget that I have never been able to out-give God; every time I have taken a step forward in my giving, he has honored that step of faith.
In Hebrews 11:1, we are reminded that, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Tithing to God through the local church, or working toward a tithe, certainly takes faith. We may not initially see how God will provide, but we know that a faithful disciple is one who acknowledges that, as James tells us, “Every gift comes down from God above.” The Psalmist reminds us that “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” To be a follower of Jesus is to give one’s life for the Kingdom – to give time, talent, and treasure so that others will come to know the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here at Central our budget includes opportunities for all of this to happen. As you give to our operating budget, your giving helps us Worship Fully, Grow Deeply, Give Freely, Share Passionately, and Love Unconditionally. You are having an impact both locally and globally in sharing the Gospel message, and you are taking a step forward in your faith by placing your trust in the God who provides.
On a national level, the average United Methodist gives just 2% of their income to the church. If that’s where you currently are, I realize that a tithe (10%) is too big of a step for most. But what about taking one small step toward a tithe and giving 3%? For a family making $100,000 that means going from giving $2,000 a year to the church to giving $3,000 a year to the church. For a family making $50,000 it means going from $1,000 to $1,500 a year. If you’re not currently giving anything, why not take an initial step of faith and start your journey of discipleship in 2017? If you were willing to give even $20 a week, that would be just over $1,000 over the course of the year!
I want to encourage you to consider coming alongside us on this journey. Paul tells us in his second letter to the Corinthians, “Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. You must each decide in your heart how much to give…God will generously provide all you need.” May you take a step of faith in your giving in 2017, even if it means you feel a little out of control!