Summary: To create interest for supporting the ministry of Asbury.
Last Sunday I shared with you what I thought God was placing on my heart regarding Asbury for at least the next couple of years. A direction that I believe is based on three key Scriptures; Mark 12.18-21, Matthew 28.19-20 and John 15.8. Taken together, these three passages tell us that God wants disciples of Jesus to make thousands of disciples that are devoted to loving their God and loving their neighbor. I used the eighth wonder of the world, compound interest, to illustrate what that could look like for us if we compounded our interests together. After all, if Jesus said that one person’s faith could move a mountain in Matthew 17.20 then imagine what combining the faith of 400 people could do. Faith, there’s no doubt in my mind that we have the faith to become known as the church that sets the bar for what it means to love God and love neighbor.
But I have to tell you that it will take more than just faith. It will take faith AND finances just as it did for Jesus’ ministry according to Luke 8.1-3.
[S] “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” (NIV) [S]
Did you notice that Jesus’ ministry didn’t rely on faith alone? According to verse three Jesus’ ministry depended upon the financial support of his followers as well. Likewise, if we’re going to be successful at helping others love God and their neighbors it’s going to take more than just a lot of faith. It’s going to take a lot of finances just as it did for Jesus. But don’t let that discourage you! Don’t let that scare you. Because I believe we have the financial ability to make it happen here. All we have to do - is follow God’s plan for the revenue.
And for that we read from the Gospel of Matthew 23.23-24. [S] “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (TNIV) [S]
The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
God’s plan for the financial revenue of the church is the tithe. That might surprise many because so many disciples have been taught that the tithe is Old Testament and obsolete. Nothing could be further from the truth as Jesus’ response displays. Note that Jesus did not condemn the tithe! Jesus did not say the practice of the tithe was to be ignored or neglected. In fact, Jesus said just the opposite. Jesus said to show more mercy without neglecting the practice of tithing. In other words, Jesus encouraged them to keep tithing. And this makes sense because Jesus was a Rabbi which meant that Jesus would have most likely been a tither too.
The tithe, literally translated means a tenth. And in the bible it was applied to giving God one tenth of one’s revenue whether that came from farming, trading stocks (sheep and cattle) shepherding, or business. Ten percent of one’s income was given to God. God’s plan is for us to live on the remaining 90%, which is enough to live on because in Malachi 3 God said He would provide for those who tithe.
I had some figuring done the other day to help me get an idea as to what kind of difference Asbury could make if we became a tithing church. And boy did I like what I saw. I took the average household income from several of the zip codes that the majority of those who associate with Asbury live to figure out the average tithe. And then I multiplied the average tithe by the number of households associated with the church. The average household income in our zip code is $67,000.00 a year making the tithe $6,700.00. Multiply that by 904 households in our congregation and we would have a little more than $6,000,000.00 available for ministry each year. To put that in perspective the annual giving for last year was a little over one million dollars.
Imagine what we could do if we took Jesus’ statement on tithing seriously. No more summer slumps! No more last minute appeals. No more extra requests. No more capital fund campaigns. Within a year’s time we could not only fund all our ministries, but we could pay off our existing debt and still have enough left over to build a new worship facility without borrowing a dime. We could also buy school supplies for the children who are unable to afford it and probably even their school clothes or uniforms. And that’s just the first year. Imagine what a difference we could make the following year with another six million dollars for ministry! Unbelievable isn’t it?