Archive for category beyond campaign

Video: Beyond Update – Celebrating God’s Grace!

Yesterday was a great day for Second Mile Church. We had a really sweet time celebrating God’s grace and looking ahead to our next series, Jesus on Prayer (click here for yesterday’s message). Our people have really stepped up to pledge and give sacrificially, and the pledge commitments continue to grow.

Check out this brief video for the latest financial updates as well as the latest on construction.

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“What If I Don’t Think I Can Give to Beyond?”

This is a common question that I have been getting over the last few weeks from committed people in our church related to their involvement in our Beyond Campaign. It takes a few different forms, but it’s essentially the same question. I thought it might be helpful to discuss it here.

At the outset, I think it’s important to note that this question often comes from people who are committed to Second Mile, who love our church, who give their time and energy to our ministry, and who invite their unbelieving friends to join us. I would guess that many of them also are regular givers, though I don’t know or track who gives. These are often owners, not just consumers. This is why this is such a point of tension and concern in these folks’ lives — they own the ministry now and they want to own the Beyond Campaign as well. But, for various financial reasons, they don’t feel like they can.

It’s also extremely difficult (impossible) to communicate publicly, whether written or in a Sunday sermon, in a way that addresses everyone’s specific situation. It’s a scenario primed for confusion. I hope that this post will minimize the confusion rather than intensify it…but we’ll see.

Here are a few thoughts on this question:

Some who think they don’t have enough money actually do. Some people ask this question because they have been devastated by the economy. They really don’t have money. Others ask it because they are committing resources to things that they could give up for the sake of the mission if they wanted to. This is why each person needs to evaluate his or her life individually and make their financial and giving decisions with intentionality (2 Cor 9:7).

Not all people who are in financial hardship are irresponsible stewards. While there are many people in our culture and church who are experiencing financial hardship because of greed and/or poor choices, there are plenty of others who have been good stewards, given generously, and tried to be responsible who have simply had difficult circumstances come into their lives. We must guard against assuming that financial difficulty equals poor stewardship.

There is a tension here that needs to be felt and wrestled with. We struggle with tension. We don’t like tough questions. We don’t like things that aren’t easily resolved. But the Scriptures are filled with tension, especially in this area of money. Consider the tension in the following truths:

Scripture says that we should provide for our families: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). This is serious.

Jesus commends a woman who gave all she had: “And he called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on'” (Mark 12:43-44).

Paul commends the Macedonians for giving beyond their means: “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Cor 8:3-4).

Do you feel the tension?

Should we provide for our families or give generously? Both.

How does that work if, like the widow, the money I have to give is the same money I need to live on? I don’t know.

It’s a tension to be managed not resolved. That’s why I keep encouraging people to prayerfully seek godly counsel, follow the leading of the Spirit, and then do what God calls them to do.

One of the places this comes up is related to paying off debt vs. giving. I don’t think there’s a simple answer. Some say–motivated by faith–you should give and God will provide money to pay back debt. Some say–motivated by faithfulness–you should pay back debt first. Who is right? I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to issue a blanket statement that applies to everyone. But I love the questions, because they cause us to wrestle with this stuff and be intentional with our lives.

The gospel mandates that we give out of love and faith rather than guilt. Many in this situation are paralyzed by guilt. They feel like being in this place must mean that they are unfaithful or not committed. Others are overcome with the guilt of their past bad decisions. Here’s the good news: Jesus can deal with the guilt of past mistakes, and Jesus is not pleased with guilt-motivated giving. If you are feeling guilty over past mistakes, go to Jesus. If you are tempted to give motivated by guilt, either let Jesus change your motivation or don’t give. Throughout this series we’ve tried to be positive, talk about the vision, and celebrate God’s glorious grace rather than try to guilt people into giving. I feel confident that this is the right approach.

Most people can give something sacrificial. There should be very few people who give nothing. Most of us should be able to make some kind of sacrifice–no matter how small. My challenge to those who say they can’t give is that they should consider giving something. If $50 is sacrificial, give it–not because the $50 will make a huge difference in the campaign, but because it will make a difference in your treasure-following heart.

A lot can change in 16 months. We’ve been asking for a 16-month commitment to Beyond, with the hopes that we can have the project funded by the end of 2011. In the meantime, some will lose jobs and be unable to fulfill their commitment. Others will find work and be able to give more than they expected. Many will get unexpected money and will have the opportunity to give it (for example, I don’t know what speaking opportunities, weddings, funerals, etc. I will get — but those will be opportunities to give more to Beyond). If a person can’t give now, he or she should pray that God provides in a way that would allow them to give more later. This would be a way of trusting God to provide.

Don’t let not being able to give keep you away from the church or from these moments together. Some might be tempted to skip church the next few weeks (September 19 is Commitment Sunday) or months out of shame or embarrassment that they can’t participate. If that’s you, DON’T! We are a family. We flourish together. We struggle together. And we share these moments together.

What would you add? Other thoughts on how we should approach this?

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Please Pray for Beyond

I hope you’ll join me in continuing to pray for the impact of Beyond. Here’s a brief video update on some things to keep in mind while praying:

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5 Reasons I’m Excited for the Beyond Series

This Sunday, we kick off a new series and vision campaign called Beyond, which coincides with the news of our new full-time facility. I will be introducing the vision of Beyond as well as lots of information about this new facility and the investment that we’ll be making to make this vision a reality. Here are 5 reasons why I’m excited about this series:

1. I rejoice when I think about the power of the gospel to change lives. Beyond is really a dream that we could continue to be an agent of radical life-change through the power of the gospel. Not through techniques or tips or self-help advice with a little Christian lacquer — but through the bold, direct, hope-giving proclamation of the gospel. This is the kind of life change I’ve experienced, the kind we are seeing in our ministry and the kind that our community needs.

2. I love how we have a God that is so focused on reaching lost people. Mission (the sending of God’s people to seek and save the lost) is not just one part of the Christian faith — it’s a central part. God is a missionary God who goes BEYOND the comfort of heaven to take on flesh in the person of Jesus and seek and save the lost (Luke 5:23). Then he sends his people out to do the same. Why? Because God loves saving sinners. Jesus said, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). We get to now join God in his mission.

3. I am thrilled about the plans that are developing for this new facility. This new facility will provide worship space on Sundays (for about 500 adults) and multi-purpose space throughout the week, making our church the first medium-large sized church in the southeast edge of the Valley with a facility. I think God will do wonderful things in this space, and I love how the drawings and design are coming together (just wait until you hear about “The Box”)!

4. I look forward to seeing God provide miraculous answers to prayer. This facility will require financial sacrifice from everyone who calls Second Mile Church home. I can’t wait to hear the stories of how God provides for people who step out in faith and trust him with their financial commitment.

5. You and I need moments that remind us of our utter dependence on God. We are always dependent on God, whether we realize it or not — after all, he graciously provided the air that’s in your lungs right now. But sometimes God allows the circumstances of our lives and the desires of our hearts to be so beyond our control that we remember that we desperately need him. To see the kind of ministry and life change that we dream about actually happen will take much more than a well-organized campaign and a building. It will take the unparalleled power of the Spirit of God.

With this in mind, will you join me in praying that God’s Spirit works in an undeniable way through this series?

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Upcoming Stuff at Second Mile

As school begins again for most people in our neck of the woods, this is a fun and full-throttle time for me and for the leadership of Second Mile. Here are a few key things that are coming up in the weeks ahead:

1. Tomorrow night (Wednesday, 8/4)  is our Children’s Ministry Preview Night. It will be fun night where we discuss and demonstrate some of the new changes to our recently revamped ministry environments for kids, The Pond and Route252. If you’re a Second Mile parent or volunteer, make sure you get there at 7pm. More info is here.

2. This Sunday (8/8) we’re studying Elders and Church Leadership. Few things in life run well with poor leadership, and the church is no exception. Additionally, many people’s church experiences (positive and negative) are shaped by the attitude, role, and makeup of the church’s senior leadership team. In addition to exploring what the Bible teaches about church leadership and followership, we’ll be introducing a group of men that we hope to install as the initial elder team of our church. You can read more about our expectations for the elder team and the process for becoming an elder here.

3. Next Sunday (8/15) is “You Pick the Sermon.” People have been voting at www.secondmilechurch.com/poll and the race is tight (it really is–I’m not hyping it). Your votes matter and literally determine what we talk about that day. Should be fun!

4. The Community Group On-Ramp is about to start again. This fall, almost all of our community groups will be going through the same sermon-based study together — which will be related to our vision as a church and Jesus’ teaching on prayer. I think this may prove to be one of the most life-changing and prayer-habit-forming seasons we’ve ever had. Stay tuned.

5. August 22nd will be the beginning of our next series, “Beyond.” We’ll be looking at our vision as a church, what God’s calling us to do and be in the future, and how God’s heart for those beyond our walls compels us to love the people God has sent us to.

This should all make for a fun fall…plus there will be a few good surprises along the way. Be praying that God would use all these things for his glory and fame.

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