Dear First Baptist Church,
I am continually astounded by your generosity.
You give so deeply and so frequently. Let me count the ways:
First Baptist Church, you give with your hands.
I have never been associated with a congregation that was so willing to work. When asked to help, you say yes. When notified of a need in our church facility, you’re there. Never once have I experienced a spirit of entitlement when it comes to the condition of our church campus. You never assume someone else should do what needs to be done. You jump in and serve with muscle and expediency. You assist in cleaning, you help set-up, you help tear down, you pick weeds, you move this, you move that, you trim our rose bushes and tidy up as you see fit. You are a generous people.
First Baptist Church, your hospitality is a spiritual gift.
I have been deeply humbled at the sweet spirit that accompanies your commitment to provide a meal for the bereaved in our church family. Regardless of whether the deceased was actively attending or not, you jump at the chance to provide a casserole, bake bread or make a dessert for their family. And if that is not enough, you decorate the tables in the Mission and Fellowship Center, you pull out the nicest place settings, you create centerpieces for the tables. This beautiful gesture gives families a sense of dignity and warmth in a time of loss. In providing this ministry, you are giving to others an elegant and priceless gift.
First Baptist Church, your service in leadership is rich.
Our deacons share their wisdom and provide care for us. Our team leaders bring their practical experience and simple but profound willingness to do the work of the church. Our Sunday School teachers consider God’s word and are committed to sharing the Good News with us time and time again. Our committee members attend to the mundane, yet critically important duties of our church. Our Circles and Missionary Unions invest in local ministries, teach our children about the Great Commission and collaborate to provide opportunities to serve and grow. Our ushers provide hospitality, our children collect our offerings, our musicians sing and play, our young people sacrifice their time to work with sweaty teenagers. In ways too numerous to count, our church gives their time and attention so that Jesus is present today and tomorrow.
First Baptist Church, you invest your resources in our mission.
The financial gifts that you give to the church become the fuel that powers our work. Your investment employs individuals in our community and helps to provide them with income for rent, food and clothes. In turn, these staff members work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide services that are as wide as the view from Waterrock Knob. Your invested contributions cool the air in the Mission and Fellowship Center, making it possible for our neighbors and partners to have a place to meet or have a banquet. The money that you give to our church makes it possible for us to be generous to local ministries and to help fund missionaries around the world. Your tithe funds our Baptist Children’s Home, the ministry at our Baptist colleges, disaster relief and so much more. Furthermore, the money you give on-line or on Sundays becomes a down-payment on the promise we made 128 years ago to be a source of good on Main Street for future generations.
First Baptist Church, your generosity is contagious.
Your gracious blessing of our 1st Explorers Program has expanded our ministry and extended our missional reach. Many of us are aware that our 1st Explorers Ministry leadership could have taken an easier path in providing care for families in our community. Some could have argued that the decision to provide specialized care for an individual with developmental needs would have been an unwise move. Caring for this bright young man required much more thoughtfulness and logistical coordination. And yet, in a beautiful testimony of the generosity that has been modeled to them by our church, these staff members continued to welcome this individual even though it would require much more time and attention than it might otherwise require. First Baptist Church, this is what your generosity inspires.
In short, your generosity makes our mission possible.
I suspect that people come to church so that they may be generous. And if so, it is incumbent upon our church’s leadership to provide opportunities for our church to be generous to one another, our community and the world around us.
Rest assured, First Baptist. Your gifts and generosity of time, skills and resources are not wasted. In fact, it’s how God is changing our world.
A Grateful Pastor