Summary: This was the first in a series of four messages for our stewardship month.
Treasures of the Heart
Here we are, April. At Cornerstone, as most of you know, April signifies the end of our church year and the beginning of a brand new church year and financial year. If you are wondering why April and not December there are probably a couple of reasons. And if you are really interested give me a call sometime and we’ll chat about it.
I made a decision ten years ago that instead of preaching about stewardship in response to some financial crisis in the church that I would begin to develop a theology of giving at Cornerstone and methodically preach on it each year as one church year came to an end and another one began. It also allows us to address the issue of year end finances and new year finances together. So here we are. April, or money month as it’s been dubbed by some.
Now I understand that not everyone enjoys it when the preacher preaches on money, don’t feel bad, most preachers don’t enjoy it when the preacher preaches on money. But I have discovered that most people don’t mind, they understand that if they are going to enjoy having a building to worship in, with heat in the winter and cooling in the summer, if they are going to enjoy the benefit of having a pastoral staff then somewhere along the line it will have to be paid for and paid for responsibly.
And all the expenses at Cornerstone are paid by those who attend here and who give sacrificially. And some folks think “Well there are others who can afford to pay for it.” Regardless of our circumstances giving costs something, every dollar that someone chooses to give to God’s work could have been spent or invested elsewhere, but a choice was made.
But the issue isn’t what others are doing; the issue for each one of us should be what we are doing. Throughout the Bible from the very first book God’s people were called to make giving a part of their worship, because God knew that something that costs you nothing is worth exactly what you pay for it.
And we appreciate those who sacrificially give to God’s work here at Cornerstone and with a $275,000.00 a year budget it really does require effort from all of us. There is no one person who can or does underwrite Cornerstone.
So the message today begins with a little history lesson. Cornerstone had its beginning 17 years ago this summer. Angela and I and our two children, who were 10 and 7 at the time, had returned from Brisbane Australia and under the sponsorship of the Atlantic District came to Bedford to start a new Wesleyan church.
The financial commitment from the denomination was $10,000.00 American which was to be used to buy equipment, supplies and advertising and provide some training. And back then $10,000.00 American was about 14 grand Canadian. And from the District we were on a three year plan where the first year we would receive $30,000.00, year two we would receive $15,000.00 and year three we would receive $7,500.00 and then we were on our own. And from that funding we needed to pay my salary, office expenses, phones, advertising and facility rentals.
So as you can probably guess part of my responsibility was to raise the extra support we would need. So, our first year in Bedford I would meet people through the week and try to convince them to join us on this grand adventure and on the weekends I would travel throughout the Maritimes and Maine and beg.
Well, the churchy term was to do deputation, and I called it my “Dog and Pony show”, but the reality was that every week would see me in a different church and sometimes two different churches with my cap out asking for money and prayer support. And some I did very well at, and some, well not so well, not even sure if it paid for the gas to get there. I wore out a car that first year, it was not unusual for me to put a 1000 or more km on my car each weekend.
But I had an interesting conversation with an old Wesleyan preacher by the name of A.D. Cann on one of those trips and by old I mean old. It was at First Wesleyan in Fredericton, I had spoken there in an evening service toward the end of Denn’s magical mystery tour.
We actually were worshipping together as a church by that time, so one Sunday I had preached at our service and then I jumped in my car and drove to Fredericton for the six o’clock service.
After I had finished speaking Rev. Cann approached me at the door and told me that I was making a mistake when I stressed having prayer partners over giving partners. You know in my appeal I would let people know that as important as having their financial support was that what we really needed was their prayer support.