Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fall Kick-Off

Romans 12: 2:  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
1 John 4: 1:  Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
In the middle 1980s, I fancied myself a Unitarian Universalist.  During that period, I heard a UU preacher string together epistemological, ontological and eschatological into a single sentence that actually made sense at the time.  I forget how he did it, and how he did it is beside the point.  Let’s forget eschatological in this conversation for a second and focus on the other two first.
Epistemological means essentially “how do we know, what we know?”  That might invoke the memory of that Pilate quote as he is about to hand Jesus over to the Roman Cohort that is going to carry him to Calvary:  “What is truth?”  Pilate is a confirmed post-modernist before it was cool to be a post-modernist:  everything is totally, 100% relative.  All truth is in short, to the post-modernist, relative.  Paul, and I agree with him, says  ‘just a darn minute here, everything isn’t relative, and we need to test what we think we believe against God’s word.’  Paul, and I agree with him, is strongly anti-post modernity:  everything isn’t relative; there are some absolute truths.  “How do we know, what we know?” 
A core concept within Methodism is reason.  We want people to be empowered to not check their minds in, in the narthex.  We want people to develop a deep, meaningful, comprehensive system of ‘testing’ what it is that the preacher on a Sunday or a teacher on a Wednesday labels with the exalted, and holy, ‘thus sayeth the Lord.’  “How do we know, what we know?”
Let this Fall Kick-Off be a time where you seriously covenant to go deeper into God’s holy word and discover what it truly means “to be” a follower of Christ.  Ontological, by the way, is the study of what it is “to be.”  Be a follower of Jesus Christ that knows how to “test and approve God’s will.”  Be epistemological so that you can truly be ontological so that you understand the eschatological.  Join us for growing as a Disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Selah, Pastor Dennis

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hilltop Cash Flow

On Sunday, August 10th during worship I spoke to our income.  

We built our 2014 annual budget on the educated, and carefully analyzed, forecast we would receive $333,000 for all of 2014 from the congregation.  

This number is a function of (1) pledges received for 2014 and historical patterns of giving from those who (2) did not pledge and (3) those who visit (called "loose plate".)

Over three-quarters of that $333,000 number is drawn from the pledged total, e.g. 78%.  Performance in this key area has major impact on our overall income.  

Through the end of July, we are below where we need to be in our Congregational Giving to get to that $333,000. 

I showed the chart above to the Congregation on Sunday.  

What does it mean?  
On Sunday I made several invitations. 

First, I invited those who might be behind, and can, to use this time as an opportunity to get caught up.  This applies to both pledged, and those who have not pledged, but have an idea what they planned on giving.    

Second, I invited all to consider some type of automatic system in which to provide Hilltop their treasure.  We have Vanco forms in the office, which is one way of accomplishing this automatic approach.  

Third, for those who might be caught up, and can, to look at four potential areas of extra mile giving:

  • Music and Arts (Code 804)
  • Missions (Code 878)
  • Pastor's Discretionary Fund (Code 818)
  • Capital Improvements (Code 853)
  • (and not shown but a good account as well) -- Youth (Code 899)

All four of these are excellent extra mile candidates. The four codes are within our designated accounts and if it is shown on the check, envelope if cash, or in remarks of some kind if using an automated transaction, would help the counters.   

My temporary priority here is Music and Arts but all of these are important if a member of the church is at or above where they expected to be at this time of the year. 

All who call Hilltop their spiritual home should know that I do not know who gives how much.