September is the beginning of my favorite season–Fall! Soon, the leaves will change and blanket Smoke Rise in a quilt of colors. We will once again we will stand in awe and wonder at the beauty of God’s work in our world.
Of course, we have seen the beauty of God’s work throughout the summer. We have sent mission teams to serve in Appalachia, New York, and Tijuana. We have strengthened our partnerships with the refugees in Clarkston as well as the Lilburn and Tucker Coops, providing help for those in our neighborhood. At Vacation Bible School, we had the opportunity to share God’s love with more than 120 children from our church and community. Step back, stand in awe at the beauty of God’s work through Smoke Rise Baptist Church.
While all of us cannot take every mission trip or teach in every VBS classroom, we are all a part of these ministries when we give to support God’s work through our tithes and offerings. At Smoke Rise, we are committed to fostering a culture of generosity in our community of faith. We give to God as an expression of our faith and in gratitude for God’s good gifts in our lives. Stewardship is more than church business, it is a spiritual practice. Jesus reminds us, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be…”
September represents the mid-point in our church fiscal year. I am pleased that due to the commitment of our congregation to give faithfully, our budget receipts from (April 2017-July 2017) exceed the receipts given in the same periods of 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012. Along with this giving, our church continues to honor pledges to the Refresh Campaign that have already helped to enhance our campus, most recently by improving our sanctuary.
While celebrating this good news, we are still facing a budget deficit for the first-half of the year. While our receipts have increased, expenses like benefits, electricity, insurance, and utilities have increased as well. I want to commend the work of the Stewardship Committee that has worked diligently to foster a culture of generosity to encourage giving. We are seeing the fruits of these labors. I also want to commend the work of the Finance Committee that has worked diligently to monitor our spending practices and use our resources wisely.
This year, our church has made an intentional effort to increase communication with the congregation about the church’s financial condition. We have simplified the church newsletter to provide information in a manner that is easy to access and understand on our Generosity Page. On September 17, during morning worship, we will have a mid-year report from the Stewardship Committee and the Finance Committee as suggested in our Strategic Vision Report.
The leaves are not God’s only work in our world this Fall. God is doing something special at Smoke Rise Baptist Church. Let us all be faithful stewards…