By now you've heard from everyone who expects a commitment from you in 2011. Already this year, I’ve been contacted by Parker's school, my alumni association, and the nonprofits I support. I’ve renewed magazine subscriptions and memberships. All of these are important, but all pale in comparison to the annual commitment I make to our church.
Last year people demonstrated their commitment to First Baptist in historic ways. Through God’s generous blessings, we set a record in budget giving, paid down our debts to the lowest they have been in 10 years, and repaid all the money we borrowed from our designated funds to get through the budget crunches from 2006-2009. At a time when we thought that we were desperate, you became dependent, sought direction from the Lord, and began a process called “Because I Have Been Given Much.” We acknowledged that as James 1:7 suggests, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above”; and we’ve been blessed with incredible gifts.
The generosity season is here again. Our goal is to “Make Room at the Table” for every person that is touched by First Baptist in 2011. I believe that there is plenty of room for everyone at God’s abundant table. We need your help to provide the meals, staff, camps, materials, mission, air conditioning, fuel, building repairs, and so much more to make that happen.
Our budget goal is $1,876,000. Our remaining debt is $465,750. You saw what we were able to do this year: repay designated funds and pay down the debt. After we meet our financial obligations and provide for appropriate cash in the bank, any excess to the budget will go toward the debt. A gift to the budget is a gift toward getting out of debt. That would create plenty of new seats at the table.
This year our students will take a very active role in the budget. Through Michael McEntyre and Susan Tatum’s leadership, our youth are adopting the Mission Friends as their budget goal. Our children are adopting the ESOL ministry as their budget goal. They will be receiving offering envelopes and a program tailored just for them.
On April 10, we will demonstrate that love for the Lord and our church by turning in commitment cards for 2011. We do not sign pledge cards at First Baptist. We ask people to commit toward a 2020 vision of tithing. By taking one step at a time, you will become a generous tither within 9 years. Last year, many of you took the first step and will take another small step of sacrifice again this year. If you've never experienced the joy of tithing, or had to organize your finances last year, now is the time to take the first step.
You can begin today. Please fill out the online commitment card. Once you press "submit," the information will go straight to the financial office and will be handled confidentially. You may also print the card and bring it with you to worship April 10. The deadline for commitment cards is April 24. We will conclude our season of generosity with the “Step Up” offering May 15. This offering kicks off a summer of ministry and celebration.
I will have to admit to you that last year we did this on a bit of blind faith. Since all faith is blind, now we obey on lots of evidence of what God can do through you. So let’s enjoy the bountiful blessing of his table.