God’s math is strange. Consider the way it worked in the churches of Macedonia.
We wish to make known to you the GRACE of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a GREAT ORDEAL OF AFFLICTION their ABUNDANCE OF JOY and their DEEP POVERTY overflowed in the WEALTH OF THEIR LIBERALITY. (2 Corinthians 8:1-2)
Here’s the math of those verses:
Great ordeal of affliction
+ Deep poverty
+ Abundance of joy
= Wealth of liberality
This math has a special name. According to verse 1 it’s called GRACE. “We wish to make known to you the GRACE of God.”
As I was praying recently the Lord directed my attention to this text as a remarkable parallel to our situation as a church. We have been through “a great ordeal of affliction.” As a result there is a kind of “poverty”—numerous givers are gone. So we qualify for two of the three components of this math: affliction and “poverty” (even though we are very wealthy by world standards!).
The big question is, will the third component in the equation take place this fall at Bethlehem—ABUNDANCE OF JOY?
Here’s the answer of the staff.
I told them two weeks ago that we need another $400,000 to meet our expenses this year (not counting the building fund). I am told that after children and departures are subtracted from our regular giving units (=envelope boxes), there are about 500 left.
$400,000 divided by 500=$800. That’s what each giving unit would need to give on average by the end of the year. I realize that $800 between now and the end of the year is like tithing on an annual salary of $48,000 (which most of our units don’t make). But a lot of the 500 units have not been tithing during the year, and $800 would only catch them up to where they perhaps should have been. Others will go far beyond their tithe. Others will have to give less than $800 and God will see it as more (and treat it like loaves and fishes).
All this does not take into account the unpredictable gifts that come to us from outside the church. This is always one of God’s wonderful wildcards.
I asked the staff to pray, make pledges for this year-end effort, and give it to me anonymously. I have 17 commitments in my hand. The average is $1,069.70 per giving unit (33% above the $800 needed). This includes pastors, assistants, receptionists and custodians.
I hope this remarkable commitment of the staff to the future of our church releases in you the crucial component: abundance of joy. I hope you will join us in this strange and wonderful math called GRACE.
Growing in new joy,