And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

At some point this week, you’ll be receiving in the mail an invitation to make a financial covenant to help fund our shared missions and ministries in 2022.

There is, of course, an element of obligation that comes with such an invitation. Members of Providence are expected to be givers to Providence. We don’t try to hide, or downplay, that expectation. It’s one of the six specific commitments featured in the church pledge that Providence adopted in August of 1973, and we repeat together each Anniversary Sunday: “To be faithful stewards, as God has prospered us, contributing our financial support for the church and its ministries, and by offering ourselves for God’s work in the world.”

So, yes, there is an element of obligation here. If you’re a member of Providence, then you ought to be giving to Providence. Period.

That said, obligation can only take us so far. What the Lord truly loves, writes the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7, are cheerful givers who delight in the opportunity to be a part of life-changing, life-giving ministry in the name of Jesus. We glorify God, Paul tells us, “by [our] obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of [our] sharing (2 Cor 9:13).

In other words, something profound—spiritually profound—happens when our trust in Jesus reaches the point where we are not only willing to give freely, but are able to give cheerfully. God is glorified, and we move that much closer to experiencing the abundant life that Jesus wants for us, one that’s defined not by an endless list of have-to’s but, instead, by a joyous invitation to a lifetime full of get-to’s.

Giving freely and cheerfully in the name of Jesus is indeed something that we get to do. We get to contribute to missions that matter. We get to participate in ministries that make a difference. We get to be the body of Christ in this place, joined together by Jesus himself and prepared for good works by God’s Holy Spirit. We get to do all this because Jesus loves us and wants us to share that love with the world.

And, according to the New Testament, the way we get to do this is through the church, where God’s people come together in order to be together the presence of Jesus. So that’s the invitation you’ll be getting in the mail this week: An invitation to come together with your brothers and sisters at Providence in order to be together the presence of Jesus in our neighborhood, our city, and our world in 2022.

Over the next month, we’ll be hearing more about how our Financial Plan for Missions and Ministry next year advances our Providence Will objectives of Cultivating Generosity, Making Disciples, Engaging Cotswold, Blessing Charlotte, and Sending Apostles. We’ll be hearing more about how our Financial Plan for 2022 puts a priority on renewing our ministry space, increasing our giving to missions, welcoming our neighbors to a more beautiful campus, and investing in ministries that help us reconnect with one another after so much time apart.

We get to do this, together, in Jesus’ name—and in 2022, truly, it will be important for all of us to make a covenant to do this together. As I mentioned earlier, every member of Providence ought to be a giver to Providence, but we’re not there yet—which means that there is room for growth. With this in mind, then, the Stewardship Committee has set a goal for 2022: Let’s increase by ten percent the number of Providence members who are Providence givers.

I believe this is a worthy goal. If you didn’t make a financial covenant for 2021, then I invite you to make one for 2022 and be among that ten percent of new givers. If you did make a covenant in 2021, then I invite you to join me in doing so again.

Joyful generosity in the name of Jesus should never fall into the have-to category. That it so often does says a lot about where our hearts are in relation to where Jesus is.

So, then, “let us consider,” writes the author of Hebrews, “how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” How can we help one another get to where Jesus wants us to be?

May the peace of Christ be with you!