Hi church family! For today's devotional I want to share with you the devotional I wrote for our council meeting last Tuesday. At council the leaders of the church approved the 2022 budget which includes our team ministries, committees, staff, and assets. My encouragement to the council was to not view the budget as the work of the finance team but rather to embrace the budget as their own and to not view the budget as a restriction but permission for the good we will do next year. However, we're also projecting the largest deficit to date which means we need the faithful to stay faithful! Like I spoke about in my message on Sunday, just because we're in the wilderness and things look uncertain doesn't mean God can't produce life from what appears lifeless. God wants to do good things through us! Believe that! We're eager to see how God moves through you for the benefit of others in 2022. To do that we need your commitment to trust that God will provide a way. Consider making a pledge today.
Scripture to Read
As you will soon discover our theme for stewardship season is “gratitude.” Stewardship can often feel “all about the money” so I want to get us warmed up by encouraging you to think quickly about 3 things in your life you are grateful for. Maybe its your job, family, home, or a skill you have. Think about those things for just a moment. These things that you are grateful for you are also a steward for and God has entrusted you with them. The result of that stewardship is gratitude and likely other emotions.
Now, let’s bring this to our church family. What 3 things are you thankful for for our church. Maybe it’s the music program, a friend, or a specific service where you felt touched. Each of those experiences is a result of God making us stewards of our church. Those involved in designing worship, practicing and organizing of music, and making connections that allow us to touch the lives of others through outreach. God has trusted us - the leaders of this church - with these responsibilities and the end result is not all about the money, but joy and gratitude.
So why do we view stewardship with discomfort when the end result is always joy and gratitude?
The focus of this meeting is approving our budget. Our budget is so much more than line items and numbers. The budget is central nervous system of the life that our church produces and inhabits. Whether that’s creating space for the youth group to meet each week and share in food and study, or grand fellowship events that bring us all together like this past weekend, or providing opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ. By approving this budget tonight you’re not giving a thumbs up to the work of the finance team, you’re co-signing as a contributing author to the Gospel of Chagrin Falls United Methodist in 2022. The lives that we will touch, the staff that we will provide for, the ministries and opportunities that God will reveal in time. You are a part of that. This budget is yours. You are a steward of the joy and gratitude that will come with it.
As we think of this will you bow your heads with me in a word of prayer?
Loving God, thank you for the things we are grateful for right now. Thank you for trusting us with things that bring us so much joy. Thank you for our church family and the way our church has helped us to grow deeper in our bond with you. As we approach the budget this evening let us claim it as our own as stewards of the good work that you will do through this church in 2022. In your great name we trust and pray in thankfulness. Amen.
Praying through Praise
Sometimes short and sweet is the right way to do things. (How about you take your own advice there preacher boy?) This short and sweet hymn perfectly captures the essence of stewardship. If you like it - let me know! It might make an appearance as a prayer response to the offering next week.