On Sunday, October 21, every member of Providence Baptist Church will be invited to make a financial commitment to support our shared mission and ministry in 2019. Commitment cards will soon be going out in the mail. Extra cards will be available in numerous locations around the church for those who, for whatever reason, don’t receive one in the mail or misplace the one they got. As you pray about your giving to Providence in the coming year, I hope you will do so with a spirit of joy and gratitude, because we have much to be joyful about and grateful for.

Already in this year alone, the Lord has used the offerings we’ve given to provide warm shelter and hearty meals to our city’s homeless population during the winter months, crisis assistance to our fellow Charlotteans in times of need and distress, and several hundred pounds of produce from our garden to Friendship Trays so that our hungry neighbors can have fresh, healthy food to eat.

Already in this year alone, the Lord has used the offerings we’ve given to help send teams of missionaries to do evangelism and food bank ministry in Quebec; compassionate service to the sick and hungry in New York City; community-building outreach in Danville, Va.; and home repair work in underserved areas of Knoxville, Tenn.

Already in this year alone, the Lord has used the offerings we’ve given to bring over 400 children and their families onto our athletic fields and basketball courts on fall, winter, and spring weekends; up to 580 children and their families to Vacation Bible School and day camps over the summer; and 185 children and their families to our Weekday Education Ministry throughout the year.

Already in this year alone, the Lord has used the offerings we’ve given to support Christian education and spiritual formation for all ages every Sunday morning; inspired and inspiring music during worship; and the technology to make weekly sermons and other devotional material available online.

These are just a few examples of how, already in this year alone, the Lord has used our offerings to share, serve, welcome, and encourage in Jesus’ name for the good of God’s kingdom. There are, of course, many, many other examples of how God transforms our generosity into life-shaping, life-changing ministry at Providence. You can probably think of several right off the top of your head that I didn’t name. Each one of these examples is yet another reason to be both joyful and grateful in our giving.

As the apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 9:8, God provides us with blessings in abundance so that we “may share abundantly in every good work.” Our giving in support of the mission and ministry of Providence is how all of us can share abundantly in the good work that God is doing through our church. The result? According to Paul, it’s joy and gratitude. That, at least, is what God intends: that we all share abundantly in the good work of this church—and in the joy and gratitude that comes from being a part of something bigger and better than ourselves.

Between now and October 21, then, as you decide how generous you will be in 2019, I’d like to give you something to think about. When it comes to cultivating generosity in our financial giving here at Providence, I have two dreams. The first is that every member be a giver. Not all of us are right now, but we need to be, both for the good of the church as a whole and for the good of our own spiritual health as individual followers of Jesus.

The second dream I have is that every giver become a tither, which is the biblical word for someone who offers the Lord ten percent of his or her income. This amount is the Old Testament standard for faithful giving (see, for example, Malachi 3:8-12). Hilary and I tithe—that is, we give ten percent of what we earn to support the mission and ministry of Providence—which is why I am comfortable asking for the same kind of financial commitment from my fellow church members. For most of us, moving from our current giving level to a full tithe is a process. But it can be done. I know that for a fact.

So, maybe you’re a member who’s not giving. Now is the time to start. Maybe you’re a giver who’s not yet tithing. Now is the time to begin moving in that direction. We are, as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12, better when we are together—more joyful, more grateful. It’s through the church that Jesus has chosen to continue his ministry in this world—and God has given us everything we need in order to be faithful to that work. What’s left is for us to make God’s blessings available to be used for God’s purposes. May the peace of Christ be with you!