Dear Grace Family,
I want to try and cover two things today being as brief as possible with each of them. First, as the busyness of the holiday season and transition into the new year have passed, I want to make sure y’all are in the loop on our 2023 church budget. Second, I want to give just a few introductory comments on the book of Acts to help prepare us for our upcoming sermon series that will begin this Lord’s Day morning.
Let’s begin with the budget. By way of reminder, our income in 2022 ended up being $470,451.76. This was up $20,000 from the year 2021. Let me just pause right here and make sure we are all appropriately thankful for God’s provision of this abundance. This wouldn’t have been possible without your faithful response to the Spirit’s leading in your hearts to give with such generosity. Let this be an Ebenezer to encourage all of us, as we press on in the days ahead. Our 2023 budget has been set at $446,614.00. For the second year in a row, this represents a “yes” budget in which every internal ministry we want to see flourish is fully funded, along with the missions & outreach portion of the budget coming in at just over 12% of the whole budget. More than just a financial outlook, a church budget represents all that the officers think God has called us to faithfully accomplish in the year ahead. It includes some wiggle room for future missionaries. It includes room to spend more money on food to facilitate fellowship across all ages of our congregation. It includes a deacon’s fund that can handle tangible needs that might arise from among our number. As always, this budget can only be met by the faithfulness of God spurring on the faithfulness of our people. I commend this task to you.
Now, what about Acts? If y’all have some extra money for a new book and want to get a grasp on Acts, order “The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption” by Dennis E. Johnson. In his preface, Johnson says, “whatever our condition as the church of Jesus Christ may be, and wherever we may be scattered among the nations, Luke’s second volume, which we call “Acts” or “The Acts of the Apostles,” is God’s call to remember and reflect on his design for his church, and reconsider how our fellowship fits-or fails to fit- the blueprint. As we return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, we see the New Testament epistles’ instructions for living fleshed out in real history. The history in Acts is, after all, real. It is full of people who don’t get along, who don’t catch on, and who don’t always rise eagerly to the challenge of discipleship. On the other hand, this history is also real in demonstrating the powerful impact of Jesus, risen and enthroned, at work among these flawed people by his Spirit’s quiet but invincible strength.” So this is what we can expect over the next 12-18 months as we work through Acts. Each of us is going to have to give up something. A dream we had for the church will be exposed as an unbiblical one. Or a dream we missed for the church will be exposed as one to cultivate and prayerfully attempt to bring to fruition. Officer and congregant alike, we’re all about to get stretched as our preferences and personalities come face to face with how Jesus’ design for the church might differ from ours. It’ll be a journey as messy as the people’s in Acts. But it will also be as Spirit-filled and blessed as theirs, too. I’m equal parts excited and nervous to get this journey underway. I hope y’all will join me.