Planning for the Unexpected to Help Make It Happen

I don’t know where it comes from. But year-end giving at Bethlehem is usually so good that we wind up giving 15% of the budget in 8% of the year. The numbers always look staggering. And that drives us to prayer. It feels humanly impossible for a congregation like ours to give those kinds of dollars. It’s the same this year.

It occurs to me that one concern you might have is this: “What will become of my money if I dig in deep this month and give extra and then it’s not needed? What if we take in more than we need to pay our budget commitments?” Don’t laugh. It can happen! And, yes, I think it’s going to happen. It happens almost every year, as a matter of fact.

So with this exciting possibility I went to the Trustees and to the Deacons with a special proposal. Their response was totally positive. Here is what I recommended.

I recommend that all regular giving to the church in 1987 which exceeds our 1987 Budget be given 50% to the Last Thousand Campaign of the U. S. Center for World Mission, and 50% to “Countdown to Freedom”—the new effort of the Baptist General Conference to eliminate its debt. I further recommend that these gifts be limited to $12,000 each, maximum.

In other words, suppose you are praying about a special year-end gift to Bethlehem. (I hope you are. I am.) And suppose you don’t want to just fatten the pad that we sit on next year. But in fact what you really want to do is give enough to Bethlehem to meet the need, and then help the USCWM pay off its campus this year (like I do!).

Well, now we’ve got it all set up for you!! We will pay our commitments and then we will funnel the excess to the USCWM up to $12,000.

But what about this other project called “Countdown to Freedom”? What’s that? When Bob Ricker became the new President of the Baptist General Conference he inherited $1.3 million in debt at the Arlington Heights Conference Center. There is no point fuming over how it got there. Past mistakes have been admitted. The issue now is how to get rid of it.

The new plan from the BGC Board of Overseers is to ask each church to give one dollar per member per month for one year. I think it’s a good idea! For us that means $1 x 1,000 x 12 = $12,000. So I thought, “What more painless and exciting way to do our part than to let it be an over-the-top celebration at the end of December!”

Wouldn’t it be great to thank God for all this during Prayer Week in January?

Planning for the “unexpected,”

Pastor John

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