“Jesus said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 18:22-25)
As we enter that time of year when church committees begin to think about budgets; preparations are underway for our Annual Charge Conference; and the inevitable stewardship sermons are being written; thoughts naturally turn to what Jesus has to say about money. Over the next couple months you will hear about our plans for the coming year and how those plans need to be funded. You will be challenged to take a fresh look at the way we do church and what really makes sense in the future. You will be asked to examine your own life and decide what enough is and what is too much. We will all face the question asked by the rich young ruler in Jesus’ parable: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” When you hear the answer, will you walk away sad because Jesus is asking too much of you?
Many of you recently received a letter from our Finance Chair, Kent Warkentin. In it Kent outlined where our church is and where we need to be. It is clear that we are not doing everything we need to be doing to ensure the continued mission and ministry of the church. We are not fulfilling our connectional obligation through faithful payment of apportionments. It appears we are doing the minimum necessary to get by. More importantly, the financial message is not the end of the story. Stewardship is about many things.
While our attendance is growing nearly every week because of the addition of visitors and new members, many of you seem to have gotten out of the habit of attending church each week. We miss you and hope that you will soon return to join us as we worship God and do ministry in Jesus’ name. The move to two worship services earlier this year was in response to your comments and suggestions. Faithful stewardship of our time includes regular worship attendance to praise and thank God for the great blessings in our lives. This is part of the community of the faithful.
Serving God’s community is another element of stewardship where we seem to be falling short. Yesterday in worship many of you heard Dick Ford talk about stepping up to be leaders in the church. This is a follow-up to our recent spiritual gifts inventory and our call to action in terms of fulfilling the many leadership roles in our church for the coming year. This is also part of our stewardship obligation – to use God’s gifts to serve God’s people. Will you walk away sad because Jesus is asking too much of you?
Friends, we have proven that this church is capable of answering God’s call. We recently allowed God to lead us in a mission that I believe will forever change this congregation for the better. We do a lot, but we can do so much more. I pray that our church will step out in faith and walk boldly into the future…Give more; worship more; be present more; witness more; and love more. I believe our church is called to move from where we are and to take our place as a bold witness in a new facility that is equipped for real mission and ministry. God is saying to us: “Now!” What are we waiting for? Will we really walk away sad because Jesus expects too much from us?