It was some time ago that the staff here in the office came to me with information regarding a growing trend among churches. It was that in order to make giving as convenient as possible for the giver, many churches were enabling people to make donations via text. I must admit that at first this seemed a little farfetched to me, but we were able to initiate this process in 2015. Since then, I have been amazed when I have received the reports that come my way. Particularly in 2017, we saw a surge in giving through this process.
We more than doubled our gifts via text as we compare 2017 and 2016, and it seems to be continuing to grow. So this article comes to you to say, “Thank you,” as well as to explain how this method can be accessed by those of you who may not be aware of this opportunity.
Here is the text giving process…
This is just one more way that we are able to demonstrate our generosity toward, and involvement in, all that the Lord is doing here at Quail.
When you consider the Great Commission that Jesus left us, the action that is called for is “make disciples.”
“…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt. 28:19)
That is the job description of the church and, in fact, of every believer in Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish that, we need to keep a few things in mind. Here is my take on the most important points:
What is a disciple? A disciple of Jesus Christ is a Christ follower who is growing in his/her understanding of the Word of God (head), in his/her life transformation toward righteousness (heart) and his/her active service for the Lord (hands).
Since discipleship growth takes place in these three areas (head, heart and hands), the church ministry must assist in all of these ways. We have a Commission here at Quail called the “Discipleship Commission,” but we can quickly see that the true discipleship process will take more than the programming that is birthed by just this one group. Here is a quick review of a few of the program areas that touch each of these discipleship arenas…
I recognize that given enough space and time, I could fit almost all of our Commissions and activities into one of these three categories. However, this list represents what I would call the primary considerations. The Commissions have the responsibility in each area to sponsor excellent programming, deploy gifted people into leadership positions, and train and mobilize new and future leaders for all. If any of this interests you, feel free to contact the church office and we will connect you to the contact person for the specific area of ministry you are interested in.
However, on an individual level, we all need to realize that being and making disciples is not a program, it is a lifestyle. That lifestyle calls for the practice of the basic habits of the Christian faith such as prayer, Bible reading and service. It calls for a consistent life model that realizes that long-term spiritual growth will come as we practice an “everyday” faith. One author says this, “You can’t micro-wave a disciple, it is a crock pot recipe.” That is the truth. I hope in 2018 that you experience slow, steady growth in each of these three arenas, and that our teams lead with excellence in all.
His and Yours,
Recently I saw the piece by Professor Todd Miles of Western Seminary. He had some good ideas about what we must remember not to forget as we study our Bibles. These simple points will help us stay away from bad habits than can creep into our time in the Word. Here they are…
What this means is that we must remember to seek to understand the immediate setting and context of the passages that we read. Have you ever noted that politicians and movie stars, when they are trying to get off the hook for saying something foolish, will claim, “I was taken out of context!” Basic to human understanding is what is going on in the setting where we speak and that is true of the Bible as well. When we rip words out of the context and derive meanings for verses that are not meant in the original setting, we use the Bible as if it were a series of magic incantations that we can “claim.” Let’s remember to not do that!
What this means is that the original audience for which the Bible was written is very different from our modern age. Of course we are all humans trapped in the human condition and in need of a savior. However, we are separated from the original readers by geography, culture, chronology and language. Thus we must resist the temptation to woodenly apply passages to our setting, but seek instead to read for meaning and principles that last across culture. Here is an example: When Paul says to greet one another with a holy kiss, it does not mean that our greeters at the front door should start kissing people. It means that we should welcome one another warmly.
What this means is that the Bible contains a host of different literary genres. With the words there are poems, historical narratives, prophecies, laws, letters and more. Which of us has ever confused a baseball box score in the newspaper with the letter to the editor on the back page? We pick up on the difference between this kind of writing in modern usage, and we must watch for it as we read the Bible as well. Once we have an insight into the sort of literature we are reading, it will help us avoid making claims that the Bible is teaching something that it never intends to teach. A primary example is that proverbs are not promises, they are expressions of observations of things that are generally true and thus proverbial.
Most of our interpretive errors can be avoided by pausing to ask these two questions: What is the context? and What is the genre? So, be a reader and a student of the Word and as you are, remember not to forget these principles.
Recently our own Sandi Cornett traveled to Houston to serve in the relief efforts sponsored by Samaritans Purse as they responded to hurricane Harvey. Sandi is a Pediatric Physical Therapy Assistant here in Stockton and has been attending Quail for almost 10 years. She and I dialogued about this experience of self-mobilized missions and here is what she said.
Deut. 8:10, 17-18
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you…But remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers…”
In Deuteronomy 8, God warned his people not to forget that it was by His hand of blessing that they were able to enjoy their prosperity. It is an interesting paradox that people will cry out to God for help when they are having financial problems and then forget about Him when things are going well.
Your good stewardship, which includes giving funds to God and His work, is an expression that says, “Thank you, Lord, for all of your blessing and goodness to me.” We cannot afford to forget that God is the source.
Proverbs 3:9-10 tells us to honor the Lord with our substance and with the first fruits of all our increase:
“Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
These verses say that if we do this, God will bless us. When the management of our lives and finances includes giving to God first, we honor Him and recognize that He is indeed the source of all. This keeps stewardship in the place where God intended for it to be, in and from the heart.
Thank you to all of you who faithfully give to support the ministry here at Quail and to those who will for the first time start this important life habit. I know that you will be blessed.