By Doug Inglish
Sometimes the common courtesies we practice are done almost without thinking. Holding the door for someone carrying a big package is so simple—and so clearly the right thing to do—that failure to do so when the opportunity presents itself is not only considered profoundly rude, but following through is not considered extraordinary. It’s not a random act of kindness, rather, it’s a routine act of civility. It’s just something you do because it’s proper and everybody does it and it’s no big deal. A brief smile and a simple “thank you” from the recipient as they go through the door is reward enough, and easily forgotten since neither party really went out of their way for the other.
I like it that small gestures such as this are common, expected, and appreciated, but there is a downside. The primary currency of expressing gratitude is to say thank you. It covers the little things like holding a door, but it’s also what you say when someone gives you a kidney. Maybe we should invent terms that better indicate the level of our gratitude, but I’m not in charge of the language, so we all have to live with a certain lack of specificity.
I’m dealing with that inability to fully communicate our thanks to you right now. Giving in the Rocky Mountain Conference is at historic levels so far this year. A lot of factors come into play here, such as an improving economy, a quarterly Bible Study Guide that focused attention on stewardship, and the faithfulness of our pastoral team in communicating how giving is tied to mission. I praise the Lord for all of these things, and some others of which I am likely unaware.
But clearly, the biggest factor is the generosity of our members. No other factor that I can even imagine will have any effect whatsoever on giving if individuals do not open their hearts to the Holy Spirit, care about the mission, and follow through with support.
Tithes and offerings are certainly not the yardstick by which we measure the health of our churches or our Conference (although they have sometimes been used that way), but it is undeniable that giving is an indicator of improving health, and it cannot be ignored. So when we see the kind of numbers we are seeing, there is true rejoicing in the evidence of spiritual strength in our membership, rejoicing over what can be accomplished in moving our mission forward, and rejoicing in the certainty that blessings are raining down on faithful servants.
The mission of the church is inseparable from the members of the church, and when you support the mission in such a tangible way, those of us who are most intimately aware of what is happening cannot help but be awestruck at such generosity. When we see the mission advancing as a result, our hearts overflow.
Please understand that when any member of our team says “thank you,” the limitations of our language make it impossible to convey how much we mean it.
–Doug Inglish is RMC director of planned giving and trust services. Email him at: [email protected]