We are at the conclusion of our “Setting the Table Generosity Initiative”. For several weeks, Josh and I have cast the vision as to why we believe that God is calling us to enlarge our building space so we can “make room” for more people at the table. I have often asked myself, “Is this the right time?” “Couldn’t we better spend the money on something else?” “Why not use the money and plant more churches?” These are all questions I have pondered. I don’t take it lightly to ask people to sacrifice creature comforts, or put off large purchases, so they can invest in what God is doing at St. Patrick.
I had those same questions four years ago when I asked a much smaller congregation of St. Patrick folk to give a lot more money per capita than we are asking for now. Was it worth it then? Was it wise a few years ago to raise money for the present facility we are in? Well, you be the judge. We have almost doubled the number of people we minister to on a weekly basis. We give twice as much money to church planting as we did then, and we now support not just the two churches we have planted but two other churches in our presbytery. This is possible because our missions budget has almost doubled in the last two years. A much larger percentage of our people are being shepherded in Community Groups than when we were much smaller. I should also add that that means they are experiencing more life and better care! Our move to this new building, which cost a lot of money, forced that. It forced us to see that if we were going to shepherd people we had to get all our members in people’s living rooms to do life as family. It forced us to say that we will not get bigger just to get bigger, but as we grow we must maintain our core value of “Community is Family” and not let people get lost in the numbers.
And, on top of all that are all the new faces! In our context, buildings communicate! Space matters. I am not saying you can’t grow without buildings, but had we not built this last time, there are so many blessings which we take for granted now that we simply would not know. So, we do feel that now is the time to build the kind of facilities that will help us make more and better disciples of Jesus who love God, love people, and love life. Mission is the only reason to sacrifice time, talent, and money!
So, think about that as you fill out your pledge card. We are almost twenty years old now and the first group of people at St. Patrick had a seat at the table because people at Second Presbyterian gave over three hundred thousand dollars to a minister they didn’t know, entrusting him to help make God real in the suburbs, and for people they might never meet. Many of you that now have a seat at the table do so because people that were here before you invested in you without even knowing your name! And now we all have an opportunity to expand the kingdom and offer a seat at the table to people that right now we don’t even know. How glorious is that?!
Do pray and give sacrificially, generously, and joyfully. This Sunday, at the climax of the worship service, when we all walk the aisle yet again to both give ourselves to Jesus and be welcomed by him, we will bring our pledges. There will be a place where they will be collected. This is an exciting time in our church. Pray that God will open our hearts in rich generosity, not only with our money, but also with all we have.