A few months ago we were sitting in the Fellowship Hall listening to a presentation by Amanda Wuttke about the International Service Learning project she was part of. She and others travelled to some of the poorest parts of Nicaragua, provided some medical assistance and training, but most of all, learned about life and the world from a unique perspective. While viewing her slides and listening to her presentation, you couldn’t help notice the passion she has for serving others and the compassion she offered to those whose life circumstances as vastly different from her own. I also thought about how her experience in Nicaragua was made deeper by the foundation in faith—real-world faith—that she received through her church.
And I think about others who have been raised in or shaped by this congregation and who are out making a difference in the world by sharing the love of Christ—Jenny Ehlers Suydam, who is a pastor in Ames; Beth Ehlers, executive director of Lakeshore Center at Okoboji; Rex Davenport who went to Kenya with a group from this church.
Many things come together to produce women and men like these who are changing the world—good parents, good schooling, and just good character. But I can’t help thinking that growing up in this church, going through Confirmation here, being part of the Youth Group, and having mentors like Nate Ruge and other adults, or serving on staff here—these components also contribute to shaping the lives of people who, in their own way, are “going out the make Christ known.”
But here’s the thing. None of these things can be quantified. You can’t really pinpoint one single program at the church, one youth group experience, one Confirmation class that made a difference in the life of a person. It takes all these components working together over time to shape any of us into a follower of Christ. And it takes what I have been calling the “infrastructure” of the church to support our mission and ministry—a building where we can gather, staff salaries, supplies, insurance, utilities, educational materials, and many other resources, large and small.
Not everyone is called to travel to Nicaragua, Haiti, or Kenya. Not everyone is called to be a pastor or camp director. But each one of us is called to be a part of these lives by supporting the base from which these ministries are launched.
In many ways, our church makes a difference in the world—right here in our own community as well as in far-flung places in the world. We should be proud (in the right way) of what God has done and is doing through us. But we should also remember that it is through our giving, our support of the infrastructure of the church, that we will continue to nurture the faith of children, youth and adult; continue to produce church leaders; and continue to take the love of Christ across town to Community Kitchen or around the world to Kenya or Nicaragua.
So, when you are considering your 2016 pledge of financial support, please remember that there can be no better use of the gifts you have been given than to invest them in the work of God through this congregation. Please consider increasing your pledge by 10% so that we are financially healthy and can focus our energies on mission and ministry for the future God has in mind for us.