Regardless of what kind of computer you’ve used, I suspect that nearly everyone reading this has had that inevitable experience of their operating system getting bogged down by other software, drivers, applications, and temporary files that use up valuable system resources. You’re probably even more aware that the #1 way to fix that bogged down laggy computer is to press that reset button. The first question always asked by any tech-support agent is always “have you rebooted lately?” More often than not, that usually does the trick.
Regardless of the fact that my bachelor’s degree is in Computer Science, I believe that this “system reset” is a great illustration for our recent history at Cross of Hope. In January we even had a 4 week sermon series delivered by lay leaders of our congregation centered in this concept of 2018 being a year of “reset” for the church. Computers systems and social systems of churches alike eventually gets bogged down by excess running programs, log files, and more running processes/initiatives than can be handled by the system. Computers get bogged down by too many browser tabs from days, weeks, or months past, and churches most certainly get bogged down by the way we always done it. The good news is, a system reset can help church communities just as much as it can help computers to function as they were intended.
One such example at Cross of Hope is our recently updated/renewed congregational approach to benevolent giving. This particular update was more of a system rebuild after what might be considered a critical system crash rather than a simple reboot. It was with heavy hearts all around that the council brought forward a 2018 budget proposal that did not include any systematic benevolent giving, but we all also agreed that this would a temporary situation. That gave us the time/resources to address/reset other areas of the church system. Now after a successful capital appeal followed by the unfortunately timed need, but equally successful appeal to congregation to replace our broken furnaces, we are now back on track for what we believe to be a sustainable path forward to pursuing the mission of the church. Part of that mission is to serve the world, and while some of that call to serve the (more local part of the world) is fulfilled by the work of many of our own hands, some of that call to serve our broader world is fulfilled through partnering with other organizations that provide vital services to those in need. One significant and perhaps simplest way we can partner with global serving organizations is through our benevolent giving.
In past years, multiple councils had discussed (on a multiple occasions) about the short falls of our previous system of quarterly benevolent giving particularly when it came to congregational engagement and even awareness. The beneficiaries of our quarterly benevolence were chosen by the church council to dedicate a percentage of the previous quarter’s offering to a particular organization(s). The only problem was that unless you were really keyed into the treasurer’s monthly report on that particular quarterly basis, most people weren’t even aware of this systematic benevolence, let alone had the opportunity to be motivated/inspired to generosity by the congregation’s faithful sharing of the resources God had provided. While the decision to pause this quarterly benevolence was indeed made with heavy hearts, the time while this vital system was offline provided us with the opportunity to re-imagine/restructure this system of congregational benevolence without the way we’ve always done it (or even the way we’re currently doing it) bogging down our imaginations.
While we are still in the midst of an ongoing journey of resetting at Cross of Hope to better live out God’s mission for us a congregation, this recent reset of our benevolent giving is a prime example of the kind of positive impact an intentional reset can have on our life together. If you have not already heard or noticed in the announcements, we are now modeling as a whole community of faith the spiritually healthy value of a “first-fruits” mentality of giving by dedicating 10% of our Sunday offering to a predefined mission partner, starting with the global aid organization: Lutheran Disaster Response as we seek to provide aid to communities that have been struck by recent natural disasters. While we are indeed calculating the number for this benevolent giving differently than we used to (basing it on a percentage of “plate giving” rather than overall giving), the result is that we are still stepping out in faith and dedicating a larger percentage and final amount than we had in the past, and that is a reset worth getting excited about! The church council will still be central in choosing the beneficiaries future seasons’ benevolent offerings, but (as always) we would love any input/suggestions you might have that would help Cross of Hope live-out our mission to serve the world in need.
May God continue to guide us as we reset and renew on the road ahead.