It is my great pleasure to give you a brief but important update on our church finances.
As many of you know we commenced our church financial year on the first of October, and as promised we're going to provide a verbal and written update once a quarter.
The good news is we have a chart!
The bad news is the chart needs some love!
Let me explain.
The white bars represent our budgeted income. This is an annual amount divided over twelve monthly blocks — each signifying the amount of money we need to help realise the vision God has put before this church.
We are a growing community with new initiatives and future goals, which explains why the black bars get higher as the year progresses.
You'll also notice that from October through December the white bars are higher than the rest. This is because we invited the church to make a one–off contribution as part of the 'Generous' appeal. The gift coincided with our church's birthday and kick started the mission for the year ahead.
Now what do the black bars tell us?
They tell us our actual income, which for October and November is below expectation.
To be precise we are currently around 80k short of our planned budget. This is not insurmountable, but it's worth noting that December and January are traditionally our lowest months, and if that trend were to continue we'd be in a difficult position come February 2014.
I'm praying you and I can change that today.
Very simply, you can give.
For those who are giving — thank you. City on a Hill is a story of God's extraordinary grace, which – under God – has only been possible through the generosity of His people. People who see the opportunity to do something of eternal value and be part of something bigger. So we are thankful for all that you are doing for this church.
In addition, let me invite you to evaluate your contribution and see if there is any room to increase your offering or consider a one off gift at this important time. As a guide, my family give around 10% of our income to support what Jesus is doing here. We do that thankfully knowing that lives are being changed, people are getting saved and every dollar goes to furthering God's kingdom.
For those of you who are not giving, now is the time to get involved. We each need to play our part and you can do that by heading to the give page to find out how you can partner with us in this important way.
However, it is important that we not only know how to give, but why we give.
Number 1 – We give because Jesus first gave to us.
The Christmas message is about God's great gift to us. In Jesus you were adopted into the family of God, given a new identity and made inheritors of the fullness of His blessing. We didn't deserve it or earn it – it is from start to finish His gift to you.
Number 2 – We give because it fuels the mission that Jesus gave us.
In 2 Corinthians, it says "...just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving."
Why? Because giving enables the mission of the church to move forward.
And that is certainly true for City on a Hill.
Thanks to your giving, we're able to host weekly services and community groups: we can offer courses, provide training; we can be generous with our resources to serve people around Australia; we've planted our first church in Geelong, we're providing funding for our first independent plant; and we're serving Melbourne's homeless through Many Rooms and blessing our city with great initiatives like Restore and Welcome to Melbourne.
On the horizon we've got some very exciting projects, as we plan to plant City on a Hill West and launch our School of Ministry. We're also going to host a city–wide evangelistic event, and appoint a community director and a biblical living pastor. All very important ways to enable us to not only grow in number but also in love, care and maturity.
Number 3 – We give because it is our act of worship.
Did you know that Jesus spoke about money more than heaven and hell combined?
That's because He knew that money is a powerful idol that competes for our affection and adoration of the one true God. When you give of your money to serve God's mission you demonstrate His supreme worth and your dependence and trust upon Him. We not only want to lift up God with our words, but also in practical terms with our wallets.
So let me encourage you to give.
Give joyfully — because God is worthy of our praise.
Give generously — because God has been generous with you.
Give sacrificially — because the mission is before us and our time is now.