My hope is that…

This will be a joyous season of giving thanks and giving gifts that last for eternity.

During the month of November, Living Hope has the opportunity to do what few families of faith can do. We receive an offering that allows us to take the gospel directly from our church family into our city, nation, and the world. God has provided us with not only a Global Impact, but also a Local Impact ministry. We have partners in our city and around the world, and we are able to send our people to work alongside these leaders that are taking the Gospel into dark places.

I know of no other way to provide a greater blessing and investment in the Kingdom of God than with an offering to the Gift for Christ. Every dollar given will enable our church to share the Gospel, and countless thousands will be able to hear the Gospel all over the world.

We will receive this offering on Sunday, November 5, and we’ll continue to accept offerings through the end of the year. This allows us to give the first gift in this season of thanksgiving to Jesus. Please pray how God intends you to give, and also pray where God may send you in the coming year. We all need to give, and then pray specifically about going on mission in 2018. Be open to that idea and be ready to say, “Yes!” to God. You can find out more about the opportunities to go on mission at the 10/40 Café on Sunday mornings.

Please also understand why we are able to have the Gift for Christ. It is because of the regular tithes and offerings of the church. Our 2018 budget is being finalized right now. In that budget, we plan to provide the salaries of our staff, the ministries of the church, and also provide dollars for our partners and the Southern Baptist Convention, which oversee the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board. It is through our denomination and these two agencies that we are able to have partners. They supervise and provide resources for our missionaries, which frees us to focus on going to them to help. The more we give, the more that is able to get done for the glory of God.

On top of providing for the financial needs of the ministry of Living Hope and our Global and Local partners, our budget also provides the salaries and resources needed for the Counseling Center and the soon-to-be launched Pregnancy Center. The counseling provides care and hope for hundreds of people, and we have seen many come to saving faith and return to an active and healthy faith in Christ. The Pregnancy Center will provide for the most vulnerable in our culture: the unborn babies and the mothers that carry them. We will be providing a brief update on the Pregnancy Center on Sunday, November 19.

It is crucial that Living Hope remains a healthy, vibrant, generous church. If you are not giving financially to the church, please begin to give. Prepare your own 2018 budget and plan on giving a percent of your income to Living Hope. Increase that percentage yearly, or more often, to reach 10% (a tithe). The word tithe means 10%. Regular giving is not tithing. To tithe is to give 10%. After you are tithing, pray about how God would have you to be generous and give more either to the church or to other Kingdom needs, like the Gift for Christ or ministries God leads you to support.

I must confess that I do not preach enough on money. I believe that financial stewardship is crucial for a disciple of Jesus to thrive. It is just as important as prayer, Bible study, worship, and sharing the faith. If you are not giving, you are missing out on a crucial aspect of your spiritual growth. If you are giving, make sure you are pressing outside of your comfort zone. It is outside of our comfort zone that we grow best.