Summary: Looks at the principle of giving and receiving, not only in finances but also in Judgment and forgiveness

Over the Top

Well here we are, for some of you it is your favorite month of the year at Cornerstone, for others, not so much. If you are new to Cornerstone or a guest today a little background, each year at Cornerstone during the month of April Denn preaches on Money. Well to be exact I preach on Stewardship, how we treat what God has given us.

But for most people they just see it as Money Month, when Denn preaches on money.

And it wasn’t just an arbitrary or random decision on my behalf, you know one day I was in my office wondering what I could possibly preach on each April, and I suddenly thought “I know, I’ll preach on money each April, that will draw a crowd.”

That wasn’t it at all. 12 years ago we decided to take a different approach to dealing with finances at Cornerstone. Instead of dealing with the crisis of finances, that is harping at you every time things got tight financially in the church that instead we would teach the theology of stewardship one month each year.

Because our church year ends in April we decided that would be a good month and so here we are. And so if you can handle four messages on stewardship then you get a free pass on the preacher harping at you about money for the rest of the year. As part of that process we adopted what we call “Step-up Cornerstone”. Each year, at the end of April, we ask those who make Cornerstone their church home to step out in faith and fill out an “estimate of giving” card. And just like the name implies, we ask you to estimate what you hope to give for the upcoming year. We collect those cards at the end of that service and we use that figure to plan our budget for the new church year.

And there are benefits to that, both for the church and for you. For the church it gives us a responsible way to plan our budget for the upcoming year. For the first twenty years of my ministry the churches that I led did what most churches do. Each year the leadership would pull a budget out of the air. It was may have been based on the previous year’s budget with a small increase for additional expenses, or perhaps department heads had submitted their wish list for the upcoming year.

Often it was done by committee but realistically it wasn’t based on any knowledge of what the church income would be for that year. Often time’s churches would talk about how they were stepping out in faith. But the result was that the preacher would end up talking about money all the time challenging people to step up and pay a budget that was not rooted in reality.

In 2002 the leadership at Cornerstone decided to take a different tact. I would speak on the biblical role of stewardship for a month each year. And it’s an important topic, and it’s an important part of our spiritual lives.

And at the end of the month we allow the folks who call Cornerstone home to respond and provide an estimate of what they believe they will be able to give in the upcoming year. In affect you get to have a say in the budget and say “This is the type of church I would like to have this year.”

I think I handle the mechanics of it well; we try not to embarrass anyone or put anyone on the spot. If you don’t want to participate that is fine, although we encourage everyone to take part. And we don’t come knocking on your door if you aren’t able to give what you thought you’d be able to, we hope you will after all we have based our budget on those figures. And we provide you with updates throughout the year about where we are in relation to what was committed and where you are personally in relation to your commitment.

Last year our theme was “A Blessed Life” and we spoke about Who Gets Blessed, the Blessing of the First Things, The Blessing of Faithfulness and the Blessing of the tenth. And I don’t know how you felt about the series but I really enjoyed it.

This year our theme is “Over the Top” and that was my thought when I read a portion of the scripture that was read for us this morning.

Buried in Jesus’ teaching about judging one another and forgiveness we find this statement Luke 6:38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

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