It’s an exciting time to be at Central. We began the year focusing on the life of David, then moved into a deeper look at the life of Jesus. We spent the summer “Meeting the Methodists” while I was on sabbatical. When I returned, we learned how evangelism is about “Getting Their Name.” We have spent the last couple of months with the Sermon on the Mount, learning just what Jesus expects of us as disciples, how to live a life of love in a counter-cultural way. There’s a spirit in this place that is contagious, and I can’t wait to see where God’s going to take us next.
With that in mind, in the mail you received your 2017 Stewardship information. There is a completely redesigned Every Member in Ministry (EMIM) form, as well as a pledge card for our 2017 Operating Budget. This year’s Stewardship Theme is You Are the Light of the World.
In a culture that seems to be moving further and further away from Christ, how are we called to respond? What are the expectations that God has for us and how do we live out our faith as change-agents and difference-makers? Jesus answers these questions for us in the Sermon on the Mount; we are to be a counter-cultural, shining light into the darkness.
In 2017, we want to provide ways for you to be the Light of the World to those around you. Stewardship is about using all that God has given us to help “Connect People to Christ” and move forward in our faith. When you joined the church, you made a commitment to support it with your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness as you Worship Fully, Grow Deeply, Give Freely, Share Passionately, and Love Unconditionally. The enclosed forms help you to fufill those commitments here at Central and to use your gifts to make a difference. The Every Member in Ministry form is your invitation to serve God in some kind of ministry. We grow in our faith as we serve others, and the ministries of this church do not happen without the entire Body of Christ serving. Jesus said, “I came to serve, not to be served,” and “I have given you an example to follow; do as I have done to you.”
Each year we request that everyone fill out a new form, as we know that your interests and passions can change from year to year, and we don’t want to make any assumptions based on the previous year. For 2017, we have redesigned the form to better reflect our desire for every person at Central to be serving in each Connection Point. We hope you will not serve merely out of duty or obligation; the Body of Christ functions best when every part of the Body is working together out of a desire to use the gifts each one has been given. When your gifts, your passions, and your talents all line up, then you’ve found your place in the Body, and we can’t wait to help you do that!
The first step to finding your place to serve is to know your Spiritual Gifts. Here you will find everything you need to discover those gifts. You can also fill out the EMIM forms online if that would be easier for you than the paper forms enclosed. There is a booklet available (as well as at Information Central in the church Atrium) that has descriptions for every area of service listed on the EMIM form, along with which Spiritual Gifts best teach one. Please be in prayer for where you would like to serve, and then fill the form out either online or by hand, bringing it with you on Covenant Sunday, Nov. 6th.
Also included in this packet is our annual pledge card for our operating budget, giving you a chance to respond to the blessings that God has given you. We set our annual budget based almost entirely upon the pledges we receive, so please pray about what you believe God is calling you to give and consider making a pledge, even if you have never done so before. Because of your faithful giving in the past year, we are on track to meeting our operating budget of approximately $1.5 million and fulfilling our conference shared-giving obligations in full. We have also been able to successfully finish out one capital campaign and begin another to reduce our debt and make much-needed repairs to our campus. Due to your faithfulness, our current debt is down to $5.2 million and is on track to be down to just $4 million by 2019.
For 2017, we will need to take one more step forward, continuing the momentum and expanding the vision that God has given us. We have new mission and ministry line items in our budget for 2017, including increasing our missions budget – reaching out beyond our walls here in the community with the love of Jesus Christ. However, even with all this, we will not see a significant increase in our budget for the coming year – it will be in the 5% range. I am confident we will meet this challenge as we live out our faith and help connect people to Jesus Christ. Please know that I will be praying for you in the coming weeks as you seek God’s will in becoming faithful stewards of the financial resources God has given you.
Thank you again for all you have already done in 2016 for God here at Central. I consider myself blessed to be your Senior Pastor, and I look forward to seeing where God takes us in 2017 – I truly believe the best is yet to come! Please prayerfully look over the materials in this packet or on this webpage, fill them out, and bring them with you on Covenant Sunday, November 6th, at all three of our worship services. Take care, and God bless.
Together on the Journey,