If you’ve been around me long, you know my commitment and passion to reach people not connected to God or a church community. That was Jesus’ passion. He risked his reputation by hanging out with lost people. His best stories (parables) were about reaching lost people. He declared his mission as coming to seek and save the lost. It has to be our focus as well.
So our staff and elders are constantly trying to figure out how to do that best and eliminate any unnecessary obstacles that might hinder someone from finding and making a commit to the lordship of Christ. If Jesus himself and the truth is the stumbling block, then so be it. But let’s not do things that create unnecessary obstacles for people to come to Jesus.
This past Sunday, I started a new series called Open. If you missed it, you can watch it online. And if you heard my message you might have been surprised by something I announced. The context was this: I encouraged us all to live an open and generous life. The starting point is always with God so I challenged everyone to create and sustain an open heart by giving generously to God first on a consistent basis. And I suggested that there are some ways we give that can help us with the consistent part of being generous.
Some folks like to give with a check and put it in an envelope and physically “give it to God” in the offering during service. That’s great and we’ll always have boxes where you can do that. If you want pre-printed envelopes to use, call the church office. Others like to have their giving automatically deducted from their checking – it’s called ACH. That’s great too.
But I also want to encourage you to give online. It’s how my wife and I give and I think it is one of the best ways to give. Here’s why. You set up the automatic schedule and then you don’t forget! It helps you be more consistently generous. You schedule it so it helps you follow the biblical principle of giving to God first before covering all your other expenses. And it is easy to change the amount or pause if you need to.
Here’s why I’m encouraging all of us to begin giving electronically and this is the announcement I made Sunday. Soon, we hope to eliminate passing the offering buckets. Not because we don’t want people to give and not because it isn’t a part of worship. But that practice is often misunderstood by those who are unchurched or not connected to God who are visiting. These are the very people we are trying to reach. They don’t know yet that we are a church with high financial integrity and very generous. When a guest sees the offering being passed, it can easily be misunderstood or confusing. There are a number of reasons why.
Already almost half of all giving is done by ACH or online. So visitors might wonder why most people don’t put anything into the buckets. They might think that our people are not generous – which is the absolute opposite of the truth. The fact is Pantano people are generous to our church (AND THANK YOU!) and that allows us to be very generous in how much we give away. One of the main and consistent reputations we have in the community is all about how generous we are. The offering bucket can say to a visitor “Please give to us!” but doesn’t tell the full story of what a generous church we are. Further, it might bring up bad experiences they had in a previous church or the horror stories of a lack of financial integrity that is all too common. They don’t know that we are a frugal church guided with high financial integrity. Hopefully, they will find that out in time, but they don’t know that yet.
It is your choice how you give. We are fine with whatever works best for you. But please consider automatic electronic giving. Give online at pantano.church/give. While you are there, you’ll also find our Generosity Report that tells a few of the stories about how we’ve been able to be a blessing to our community. Thank you, Pantano, for being so open-hearted and open-handed. I love our church!