Connected & Committed

Connected&Committed_Cover

I really feel like God is using this season at Restoration City to strengthen and prepare our church for greater impact in our city and world.  That’s the heart behind our Membership Renewal Process and our Connected & Committed Giving Commitments.  As we get ready to bring our Connected & Committed Giving Commitments to our gathering this Sunday, I want to make sure we’re all on the same page with why we do this and what I’m asking as well as let you know how I’m praying as we head into this Sunday.

Why Connected & Committed?

There are two really simple answers to this one:

  1.  Our fiscal year runs from September 1 – August 31st and we present the annual budget to our members for a vote at a Congregational Meeting in late July.  So, we’re in the early stages of pulling that budget together. In order to do that responsibly, we need to get a sense of what our giving will be for next year.  Rather than guess, we ask.
  2. Our weekly attendance has increased by 37% since we started meeting at Gunston in July but our internal giving has only increased by 6.5% during that same period.  In some ways, that’s how it should be – nobody expects you to start giving the week you start attending a church.  But if you’ve made Restoration City your church home, I want to ask you to pray about investing in our mission.  Something like Connected & Committed creates an easy opportunity for you to start giving regularly to our mission.

What Am I Asking?

Simple answer: Fill the card out and bring it with you on Sunday!

Complete Answer:  Pray about what God is asking you to give next year.

If you’re currently giving to Restoration City, I would love to have you doing what Laura and I are – reevaluating your budget and planning your generosity for next year.  That may mean you end up giving the same, more or less than you are giving now.  However the Lord leads, I’m convinced the discipline of planning out your generosity for the coming year will have tremendous benefits for your budget and your soul.

If you’re not currently giving to Restoration City and consider this your church home, I’m asking you to set up a recurring donation on CCB.  God is opening a lot of doors for us as a church to be serving our city but we can’t walk through them without your generosity.  So, please, consider partnering with us financially.

How Am I Praying?

“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.  And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4

No, I’m not praying you give all of your savings to the church!  Nor am I praying for a couple of really big commitments (although we’ll take ’em!).  I am praying that a lot of us will participate.  You may only be able to give $20 a month or even $5 – that’s awesome!  Don’t you dare believe that Jesus would be more honored if you gave $2,000 or $500.  He delights in a heart that trusts Him and is captivated by the gospel enough to sacrificially give towards the advancement of the gospel that changed everything for us.

I’m really hopeful for all the Lord is going to do for His glory and the good of our city this summer and in the year to come.  Let’s be motivated by that as we pray over our Connected & Committed Giving Commitments for this Sunday.

Celebrating Generosity

surplus

This past Sunday, I shared some incredible news with Restoration City about God’s financial provision for our church throughout the past fiscal year.  I know talking publicly about money can be awkward and I even debated how specific to be in this post.  Ultimately, I decided to be as specific here as I was on Sunday because it’s not a story about our church.  Although this story is best told with numbers, it really is a story about the faithfulness of God and the generosity of His people.

At the start of the fiscal year that ran from September 2015 – August 2016, we felt God leading us to adopt a $482,445 budget. To be honest, that seemed crazy to me for a church plant that was only 11 months old! I remember asking Dan Iten, our Operations Director, how much of that money we had to spend and how much we could pull back if giving didn’t meet our expectations. Well, giving didn’t meet our expectations; it exceeded them! Through your generosity, the Lord provided $511,714.43! At the same time, we were able to hold expenses to $456,395.32, meaning we finished the year with a $56,000 surplus. That’s incredible for a 2 year old church plant! So many of you have sacrificed so much to make that happen and I can never thank you enough.

In addition to strengthening our operating reserves and saving for some long term needs, our elders felt compelled to give $6,000 of this surplus beyond Restoration City. We were thrilled to make an additional $1,500 gift to four of our external ministry partners, which continues a pattern of giving that is essential to us at Restoration City. As part of our budgeted expenses for the past fiscal year, we had already given $52,186.42 to other ministries, including church plants, international missions, and local ministry partners.

More than a few friends have joked with me in the last couple of days that announcing a surplus is a pretty amazing way to get people to stop giving to the church!  To be honest, I hope it has the opposite effect.  Personally, I love knowing that over 10% of everything I give to Restoration City goes beyond our church to other gospel partners!  It makes me want to be more generous, not less.  I’m praying you’ll feel the same way – inspired to continue giving, to increase your giving or to start giving to the vision of Restoration City.  We’ve significantly increased our budget for this year to just over $700,000, so we need your ongoing support. But I’m not just asking on behalf of our church. I’m asking on behalf of those beyond the walls of our church who are touched by your generosity. By God’s grace, we’ll exceed the $58,000 we were able to give this year and be able to do even more in the year to come.

Ultimately, our generosity is motivated by Jesus who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9).  A generous church makes the gospel visible to the world around us in a way that’s utterly captivating.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to be know for our generosity as a church?  

If you would like to set up a recurring donation to Restoration City or make a one time gift, you can do so at RestorationCity.Church/Give.  I would love to have you participate in the culture of generosity God is creating at Restoration City!

Moving Away From Greed

This time last week I was driving a moving truck down 95 from DC to Durham.  Yes, that means today is pretty much an upgrade no matter what happens.  It also means I’ve been thinking a lot about moving recently.  And thinking about moving has made me think about materialism, greed and my obsession with stuff.

It wasn’t until we started packing up the house in DC that I realized just how much stuff we had.  I’d lived in the same house for over 8 years – that’s more than enough time to accumulate more than enough stuff!  What really struck me wasn’t how much we had but how much of it was just totally unimportant to me.  It didn’t matter if we brought it to Durham, put it in storage or gave it away.

Now I know some of you are getting ready to throw the “good for you, Captain Self-Righteous” flag.  Don’t.  Because that is NOT how I felt when I bought all of that stuff.  I remember how much I wanted that CD, how cool I thought that shirt was, how essential those shoes were to impressing that girl, how I bought that tv even though I couldn’t afford it, etc…  Less than 8 years later, that treasure had faded to junk.

King Solomon said the same thing in even more extreme language:

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.”

– Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

Our culture sells us a perpetual chasing after the wind.  And I fall for it a lot.  I still have a list of things I want right now – stuff I really want, stuff that will make me cooler or happier or better.  But the gospel frees us from needing the latest and greatest because we already have the best and ultimate in Jesus.

So, I’m trying to remember the lessons of moving – today’s treasure is tomorrow’s junk.  Before you make that next purchase, ask yourself if you are even going to care about whatever it is in a year.  My guess is a lot more will stay on the shelf thanks to that question.