Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Grace Gives Back (pt. 3)

A little more than a week removed from the beginning of our churchwide emphasis "Grace Gives Back", I want to try to explain how we went from conception to reality. 1st & foremost, my heart as a pastor was burdened to lead a church to be a driving force in meeting needs in our local community. We're to be Great Commission & Great Commandment people. Too many Christians live w/ blinders on & only focus on the needs of those immediately around us at home & in the church (& many times we miss those too).

I knew the "honeymoon" phase of being a new pastor would soon wear off as it always does. I felt we needed to do something meaningful & impactful soon to continue the momentum of the 1st few months. Spending much time in prayer, meetings, & brainstorming I felt this concept of giving back to our people so they could be empowered to be a blessing was what we needed to do.

Our staff discussed many things & this idea came up a time or two (aware it wasn't original w/ us). I then attended a one day event called "THR3E" @ Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC. This event radically confirmed many things in my heart as well as opened my eyes to many things. When getting the rare privilege to talk directly with Pastor Steven Furtick for only a couple of minutes I shared my situation & we talked personally. Then before I walked away he encouraged me to "do something big, & do it now." I left that event & on the flight home that evening had a headache from information overload. After processing all I had experienced I shared w/ my staff about what I felt God taught me. Soon after we talked about doing something to kick off the Fall ministry of our church & I was told by a staff member Elevation had done this one Sunday (I wasn't aware they had done it, but maybe that was the "big" thing we needed to do). Long story short, God put all the pieces in place & used Pastor Steven to confirm this vision from God.

This decision wasn't made on a whim. It was a process we struggled through for awhile, but the end result has blown us away. We're beginning to see what a New Testament church is supposed to look like. God has overwhelmed us w/ His glory in numerous ways. There were times I questioned whether this was the right thing to do or not & if it would have the desired impact. All along the way God has given us confirmation. I plan to share stories of God's blessings every week for who knows how long. We'll eventually post them on here or our new website so others can be blessed through this project. God is changing lives right before our eyes & using us in the process...there's no greater privilege this side of heaven!

I end by giving an example of God's confirmation in a practical way. Since we gave away a week's worth of offerings & didn't receive any that Sunday, we gave up 2 weeks of offerings essentially. The Sunday BEFORE we did this (& only 6 or 7 people knew about it) our offering was a little more than double the weekly average. God blessed before as if to put His seal of approval on it. We expected God to bless & make up for it the following Sunday & boy did He ever. The Sunday AFTER we did this our offering was a little more than triple the weekly average.

YOU CAN'T OUT GIVE GOD! Let's continue to give in response to the great mercies God has given us. Be a blessing, whether you are a member of our church or not. I look forward to sharing God's stories as a result of this in the future.