For our From the Front Lines series, we asked several pastors to share the stories of their church plants. These pastors will be checking in online with regular updates on their churches and experiences, allowing readers a front-row seat to the ins and outs of church planting.
Madison Church: Update No. 2
Our ability to raise funds has been an essential part of our church’s ministry and mission, especially in the pre-launch phase. I can remember the first call I made to a friend who had graduated from college with me just a couple years earlier. Both of us were recently married, just getting started in our careers and broke. My ask was for $5,000, and, to my surprise, after a couple days of thinking it over, he agreed. We hadn’t even moved to Madison yet, and his generous contribution was the first we received.
Many friends and family members have given to Madison Church, but this story of generosity is one of my favorites. My friend confessed he was going to tell me no when he heard God speak to him, leading him and his wife to emptying their savings account. They were saving that money to put a down payment on a house they wanted to buy. For them to be able to say yes to God’s dream in Madison, Wisconsin, they had to say no to their dream in Tennessee.
That kind of sacrificial faith and love, evident by their obedience to give, has motivated me to make generosity something that is celebrated in our faith community. To do that, we’ve had to change the way we talk about personal finances, tithing and giving offerings at church. To do so would require being intentionally positive and focus on the mission of connecting people with God and each other. Giving to Madison Church would be an investment toward changing lives and impacting culture. I feel we have done this well so far in a lot of little ways, but one of the big steps we have taken to inspire giving is through an annual event called Celebrate Generosity.
This is a concept we adopted from Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, and contextualized for our church in Madison. Each year, we take one Sunday to pause and celebrate what we’ve done and look forward to what we’re going to do in the future. This year was our second time at it. Half of my sermon was spent recapping all the different service projects, social justice causes and missions giving we invested in together since our first Celebrate Generosity weekend. There was a lot of excitement in the room as we reflected on all the good we had accomplished together. The other half of the message revealed some of our vision for the next year.
I mentioned how our church was organizing volunteers and supplies for the largest community-development event in our neighborhood, which is happening later this summer. We talked about launching a new small-group leader to start a new group this fall. And I shared that by the end of 2016, I would be going full-time at Madison Church. There was now a tangible energy in the air. This event isn’t just about looking back; it’s also about looking forward.
We encouraged everyone to be even more generous this year than last. I insisted that for us to grow and expand our community presence, each individual’s contributions would have to increase. It is not up to one person to step up, but all of us must take our next step. Last year, our weekly giving doubled for a quarter before settling at 50 percent more than what it had been prior to that point.
This year, we’re still waiting to see God move in and around our community in the area of personal finances as we anticipate what he’s going to do through us until our next Celebrate Generosity weekend.