Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
To start with: don’t forget that daylight saving time ends on Saturday evening. That means we get an extra hour to catch up on sleep and be well rested for worship and Sunday School!
Next, and this is very important: during all three services on Sunday (November 4) you’ll have an opportunity to renew your commitment to God and the ministries of St. Matthew’s Church through your 2019 Estimate of Giving. We handed out these forms in worship last Sunday and you should have received another copy in the mail this week. If you haven’t done so already, I hope you will take some time to prayerfully consider how you will respond to God’s blessings in your life through tithes and offerings, then fill out your form and bring it with you to one of Sunday’s worship services. If you need a copy of the form, you can download it at this link. You can also make your Estimate of Giving online. There are four specific things that I hope you’ll consider:
1. Return an Estimate of Giving form regardless of the amount. We hope that everyone who considers St. Matthew’s their church home and is blessed by God through the church’s ministry (whether officially a member or not) will participate. Even if your giving for 2019 will be unchanged from 2018, please let us know through a new Estimate of Giving form.
2. If you are not currently giving to the church, commit to giving something on a regular basis, regardless of the amount. I believe you’ll discover the life-changing power of generosity and experience an increased sense of joy and peace.
3. If you are a regular giver, but you are not yet tithing (the Biblical standard of returning the first 10 percent of what you receive to God), I hope you will take a step in that direction, and increase your giving for 2019 by 1% to 3% of your annual income. That’s how most people who tithe reach that goal – by increasing a few percentage points every year. (As I said on Sunday, the tithe is the floor for giving, not the ceiling.)
4. Online giving is available. If you want to set-up automatic payments to the church, you can use the online Estimate of Giving link. You can also fill out the back of the Estimate of Giving form we’ve sent you and bring it on Sunday or send it to the church office. Online giving saves church resources and makes sure you can fulfill your commitment when you are traveling. Many people find online giving helps them grow in their stewardship. Please note: if you use our automatic online giving service, it must be reauthorized every year.
Don’t forget that our giving is first and foremost a response to God’s grace. It is one of the keys to living the good life that we seek. It is an expression of worship and an act of Christian discipleship. It is also an investment in the ministry of our church and the lives of every person affected by our ministry. Through your giving, God uses St. Matthew’s Church to change lives, bless our community, and transform the world in Jesus’ name.
Last month, the St. Matthew’s Church Council approved a $1,170,000 spending plan for 2019, which is a decrease of 3.3% from 2018. Despite the decrease, the spending plan still funds programs and ministries that the Council believes will accomplish the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and blessing our community. It includes funding for worship, music, children, youth, and adult discipleship ministries; funding for mission, outreach, and evangelism programs. It also provides for the church’s staff, maintains the church’s facilities, and contributes to the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church in Virginia and around the world.
I’m thankful that the Church Council took the budget planning challenge seriously and prioritized the programs and ministries that will accomplish the Church’s mission. But as you might expect, they were not able to fund everything that was requested. Going into 2019 we have just under $80,000 in unfunded or underfunded requests (which include funds for long-term capital improvements, continuing education for staff, and new initiatives like video live-streaming.) The Council hopes that by the end of 2019, they will be able to fund everything that was requested and more. However, this will not be possible without the generosity of the St. Matthew’s Church family.
The bottom line is that a miracle occurs every time you and I return to God a portion of what we’ve been given. God’s blesses our offerings and uses them into transform our lives and the lives of every person who is impacted by the ministry of St. Matthew’s Church. Thank you for changing the world.
Finally, Sunday is All Saints’ Sunday. We will honor the members of our church family and our own families who have died in the past year. We will also conclude our short series of sermons about The Good Life. This week’s message is called Success and the Good Life. It will be based on Galatians 6:7-10 and Matthew 22:34-40. We will consider two final keys to living the kind of life that God desires for us.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.