Answered Prayer, $57,000, And Strategic Confirmation

Yesterday at the end of church we announced that we had just written a check for $57,000 to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in support of its efforts in Haiti.

There are a couple of things about that gift that explain why we did what we did and why we do what we do.

First, several of us prayed throughout 2009: “Lord, let things happen in and through this church for which there is no explanation but that God did it.”

While God answered that prayer in many ways, nowhere was his answer more evident than with the church’s finances. During a year in which many churches cut back programs and released staff due to the recession, Good Shepherd enjoyed an unprecedented level of financial health. The people were generous in giving, the finance leaders judicious in spending, and God performed the inexplicable in our midst.

So the result was that we had the resources to make a major investment with an international partner and with a local partner. When the earthquake hit Haiti, it became obvious where our international money needed to go. UMCOR is one of Methodism’s bright lights, and we’re glad to partner with them for the work in Haiti.

We’ll announce the Charlotte-area partner in the upcoming weeks.

Second, we’re grateful that our ability to give that kind of gift serves as confirmation of our church’s strategy towards money & giving. The most popular way of saying it is that “we don’t nickel & dime people.”

What that means practically is that we don’t have fund raisers. No bake sales. No yard sales. No pumpkin pathches, pine straw deliveries, magazine subscription drives, or special offerings. None.

We don’t have fund raisers because we regulary observe the one fund raiser Scripture ordains: the offering at worship. Because people are not subject to relentless appeals, they give freely and generously.

(In fact, I have a deep suspicion based on admittedly anecdotal evidence that the more special interest fund raisers a church has, the worse its financial picture becomes.)

So in the case of 2009 and early 2010, we simply receive the weekly offering, people respond, God gets the glory, and we pray the saints in Haiti get some relief.

Answered prayer, a $57,000 gift, and strategic confirmation.

That’s why we do what we do.