Summary: We leave a legacy through our giving, but some of those legacies last longer than others.
Length of Your Legacy
How long will you be remembered? I remember my Grandfather Guptill, we called him Da. He passed away when I was 11. I vaguely remember my mother’s grandfather, he passed away when I was seven, but we had moved overseas when I was five so those were my last recollections of Grampy Peter. I never met my mother’s father, he was killed in an industrial accident when I was just a month old.
Often we live on in the memory of our children and grandchildren, but for most of us that will be it. I don’t expect strangers to be talking about Denn Guptill seventy-five years from now, but there is a chance that my grand-daughters will remember me and their children.
And I’m not sure if that is depressing or not. It was Benjamin Franklin who said if you wanted to be remembered you would need to “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” And while I am published it’s doubtful that the Penn of Denn will ever be remembered as great literature. Mark Twain defined a classic book as “Classic: a book which people praise and don't read.” So maybe the Penn is a classic.
This is week three of Money Month here at Cornerstone. If you are new to Cornerstone this month is really for those who call Cornerstone their church home. We do finances a little different at Cornerstone then most churches do, but it hasn’t always been that way.
For the first seven years of our life we struggled with our finances and really didn’t have a financial plan at Cornerstone. We did write a budget each year, but it was more of a wish list then an actual budget. As a leadership team we would sit down at the beginning of the new church year and draft our budget. These are the things we need to spend money on, and here are the things that we’d like to spend money on. And we felt that we were being fiscally responsible, but the budgets weren’t really based on solid data. We didn’t actually know how much money we would receive and estimates were really guesses.
So we would prepare a budget and present it to our annual meeting and it would be approved because. . . it was the budget.
And then at some point in the year we would realize that we were under budget, usually on the income side, not the expense side. So there would be suggestions, perhaps we should put our finances in the bulletin so people could see what was needed. But that usually was just depressing and wasn’t really the message you wanted to send to guests.
Then someone would suggest that maybe letters be sent out to everyone in the church and that Denn should preach on stewardship. And I have copies of those letters and those sermons, and the message always came across as a little desperate because no matter how you worded it the message was the same. . . “We need your money”. And people just tuned out. Those who were giving would dig a little deeper because it was a priority for them, and those who weren’t giving, very seldom started.
So in 2002 we made two major changes in how we would present and deal with our finances. The first is that I would teach on stewardship and the theology of giving in April each year. It is the end of our church year so it seemed like the best time. Easter often falls in April so a lot of years that limits us to three Sundays, some years like this year you get four Sundays and when you are really lucky Easter falls in March and there are five Sundays in April.
So I’m not preaching on money because we are desperate or because there is a problem, but because it’s April. And there are some folks who don’t come in April because they know what I’ll be preaching on, and that is their choice.
The second thing we do is to ask those who make Cornerstone their church home to estimate what they think they can give that year. The last Sunday of April we hand out estimate of giving cards and ask, not tell, you to fill them out. It is completely voluntary. But you get to have a say in the budget, when you are filling out a card, or not filling out a card you are saying “This is the type of church I want Cornerstone to be.
And we use that figure to determine our budget for the upcoming year. And we feel that is the responsible way to do it.
This year our theme is “Your Legacy, Your Choice!” And in week one I spoke about how Everybody leaves a legacy and that we leave a legacy with both our lives and our money.