It’s confession time… Back in my middle school days, occasionally I would feign an illness in order to take a day away from the academic grind at St. Mary’s Episcopalian Day School. My parents, much wiser than I thought at the time, recognized my stress level and would act like they believed my exaggerated accounts of incredibly pathetic and unlikely symptoms (a helpful note to all the conniving kids out there in blog land: humans cannot contract rinderpest. Don’t ask how I know.).
Watching television was my go-to activity whilst committing truancy. I would snuggle into the couch and fire up our trusty 19” black and white behemoth of a television and delight at the adventures of Andy Griffith, Jeannie and Major Nelson, and Samantha Stephens. Even F Troop was better than math class.
The highlight of my morning, though, was a show that has been on the air since 1972 – The Price is Right. Bob Barker owned me for an hour a day, and I loved it. I’m afraid that I missed enough days in middle school to get pretty good at predicting prices of items featured on the show. It’s hardly a marketable skill, but one that has served me well as a thrifty-minded consumer in adulthood.
That leads me to the subject of today’s blog. I’ve been working with our staff to develop The Church @ Clayton Crossings’ 2018 budget – God allows us to do so many exciting things in our quest to help people find and follow Jesus. We’re meeting more people than we’ve ever met, our children and student ministries are connecting with more kids than ever, and we’re involved in service and missions projects here in Clayton and around the world.
I love our church and I love that God trusts us with a lot of people and the resources to do His work, but when I look at the budget numbers on paper, I’m overwhelmed at the cost of doing ministry.
Ours is a generous church. You’ve given faithfully, and I can’t thank you enough. Maybe you gave without as much as a second thought. Perhaps you wrestled for many nights about how a financial commitment would impact your family. No matter how it happened, it happened, you gave, and God did big things with it.
Back to my non-marketable (but helpful) skills I picked up while watching The Price Is Right. Since we’re all called by God to serve together, we have a shared responsibility to provide the necessary resources for an expanding ministry.
As a fun exercise, let me break down the cost of ministry using ordinary stuff available at your local Wal Mart. For you mathletes in the crowd, here’s how I arrived at the weekly cost of what we do here at C@CC… I’m rounding up a little bit to make the numbers easier to manage, but we’re close to connecting with 600 people every Sunday morning. The costs below assume 600 people giving each week. (Ed. note: If you’re giving more than this each week, please do not adjust your giving downward – we’ve got a mortgage, don’t ya know?!)
MISSIONS: $.30 per week, or one ear of corn.
From supporting local missions partners like With Love From Jesus to starting and supporting new churches in Boston and Cuba, thirty cents gives us what we need to take the message of Jesus Christ outside the walls of the church to the people and communities who are desperate for hope.
CHILDREN’S MINISTRY: $.86 per week, or one can of Chef Boyardee Mini ABC’s & 123’s.
Lately, we’ve had more kids running around the church than anyone ever thought possible. Our KidMin team is doing whatever it takes to help kids learn who Jesus is and why He’s worth trusting.
ADULT DISCIPLESHIP: $.30 per week, or less than the cost of one can of Arizona Sweet Tea.
This is the “follow” part of helping adults find and follow Jesus (that’s our mission, by the way). We’re all about making disciples who make disciples – we picked up that nugget o’ wisdom from 2 Timothy 2:2.
HIGH SCHOOL MINISTRY: $.62, or one can of Van Camp’s Pork and Beans (Ed. note: this food product is not recommended for summer camp).
Life in high school can be pretty tough. That’s why our army of volunteers share the grace and love of Jesus with kids as they’re navigating the choppy waters of adolescence.
MIDDLE SCHOOL MINISTRY: $.35, or less than the cost of a bag of Great Value hot dog buns.
Did you read what I wrote about life in high school? Multiply that times a million, add a heaping cupful of awkward, and you’ll be close to the challenges faced by middle school kiddos these days.
OUTREACH: $.76, or one box of Imperial non-butter (Ed. note: no one, not even people with post-graduate degrees from places like Georgia Tech and MIT know what’s in this stuff.).
The Church @ Clayton Crossings is a place to call home for a lot of people. Within its walls, people learn that God doesn’t hate them, but that He loves them enough to sacrifice His Son for them. That’s a message worth sharing!
WORSHIP: $.47, or less than the cost of one container of Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt.
Each week, the worship and tech teams usher us into the presence of God and give us meaningful ways to express our thanks to Him. Extra bonus: Greek yogurt helps that crew fit comfortably into their skinny jeans! (Ed. note: that joke expresses the author’s jealousy of Aaron Ruehl’s ability to wear cool clothes.)
ADMINISTRATION: $11.13, or the cost of a 4-pack of Pamper’s Baby Fresh Wipes.
Yep, this is a pretty hefty expense, but this is how we provide for the building, paper, air conditioning, gift Bibles, the hot tub baptistery, and much more!
PERSONNEL: $13.60, or the cost of 24 used golf balls.
This is another big line item, but the percentage of our personnel costs to overall budget is less than the national average and in a very healthy place. These are the men and women who are doing what the Apostle Paul wrote about in Ephesians 2:8-9 “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”
When you break it down, it’s not that tough. All of us are able to give something, no matter our level of income. God uses even the smallest expression of obedience and trust to impact people for His glory.
Your gifts allowed us to connect with more than 300 children last week during VBS. It allowed us to send a couple of teams of missionaries to Cuba this year – you heard some amazing stories about that last Sunday morning. Your faithful gifts make it possible for us to baptize six people this Sunday morning.
Will you prayerfully consider making giving part of your spiritual development? Or, if you’re already giving, ask God to show you how to become more generous in giving to His mission. You can exercise your generosity by giving this Sunday morning or you can join the growing crowd of folks who give electronically (it’s automatic, and I’ve learned that automation trumps determination!) by visiting claytoncrossings.com/give.
When you give, you momentarily step outside your world to appreciate God’s greater mission in the world. When you give, you respond to God’s invitation, and His Kingdom advances. So, when your days seem too full, your schedule too busy, and your perspective too nearsighted, remember that your act of generosity has further implications than you will realize on this side of heaven. But God sees. The mission advances. And you are a part of it. Thank you!
What I’m Reading:
Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood by David P. Setran and Chris Kiesling
Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change by Brian G. Hedges
John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church @ Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.