From Our Hill
FOH October 17, 2014 Click here for full issue
“Let your light shine at Calvary!” - for the last month or so, we have focused on stewardship in a holistic way following that theme from Matthew 5:14-16. We’ve heard testimonies about our Christian responsibility for the mission of “Worshiping God, Following Jesus, Loving you, and Serving all.” That is at the heart of Calvary. That focus culminates this week in Consecration Sunday.
As I have been prayerfully preparing for the message that I will bring on Sunday from Matthew 5, it has been amazing to reflect on the multitude of ways that God’s light does shine from this church. For the last few weeks, friends have witnessed in worship, in From Our Hill, by voice and in print, to so many ministries and missions that happen in the life of this congregation. If we could translate each of those into a lighted bulb or a candle flame, well, Calvary would practically be glowing at the top of this hill where our church building sits!
That image of Calvary shining from the top of our hill, beaming like a beacon, helping to illuminate our neighborhoods and our world with Christ’s light – well, it got me thinking and with my engineering background still firmly in place, some of my thoughts always seem to turn…to math. I’ve been doing a little math.
I asked our church financial secretary, Melinda Grigsby, for a ballpark estimate of how many giving units (households or individuals) regularly contribute to Calvary’s operating budget. No names, no amounts. Just a round number. Melinda’s ballpark figure was 300. I’m a conservative numbers guy, so let’s make it 250. Now, I have no idea what kind of income those 250 giving units make but let’s say each one (person or household, however you want to imagine this) made $50,000 per year. If each of those units was committed to tithing (giving 10% of one’s income) to the church, then that would be $5,000 in offering for the year. Now, here’s the math: 250 giving units X $5,000 tithe = $1,250,000! Bump up to 275 giving units tithing $5,000 per year and that’s $1,375,000! To be perfectly transparent, Calvary’s giving numbers this year don’t look like we’re going to approach that, but, really, does that seem out of reach?
If getting personal bugs you, then skip these next couple of paragraphs because I’m going to share. And I am going to share simply as a statement of fact, as a statement of one of the faith commitments my household made a long time ago. When Heidi and I married, we decided to tithe right from the start – as an expression of our own faith and because we decided that as a pastoral family we couldn’t encourage others to tithe if we weren’t willing to do it, ourselves. So here are our numbers. Don’t worry, they are public knowledge; my salary gets approved out in the open by a vote of the charge conference with the District Superintendent every year. Heidi is not employed outside the home, so this is our whole picture. In 2014, our salary from Calvary (everything, before taxes) is $80,070. We calculated our tithe (10%) and our estimate of giving for 2014 was (and is) $8,040 ($670 per month – we rounded up; I hate writing checks for weird amounts). That does not include our pledge to last year’s capital campaign which is above regular giving. Looking ahead to 2015, our estimate of giving will go up a bit (to $8,250) because Calvary’s charge conference on October 7, approved a 3% raise (thank you, by the way!).
Now, I confess my ignorance: I have absolutely no idea if households in Calvary’s congregation have income greater or less than what I’ve shared. But, I have this sense that if we are all moving towards tithing, are already tithing, and some perhaps even able to go beyond tithing, then the math I shared above is not unreasonable. Here endeth the personal stuff.
“Shine your light!” That’s the theme. That’s the focus. That’s Jesus’ own word to us in Matthew 5. It’s true; you’ve borne witness; Calvary’s light shines bright, already. But, by God’s grace as we continue to grow in faith, how brightly do you suppose that light could shine?
God’s peace to you,
Pastor Bryan Brooks