Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his series on "Why Church?" by looking at another question: Why Give to the Church?
When Gateway started 20 years ago, Pastor Ed avoided preaching about giving, because he didn't want to feed people's perception that the church is always asking for money.
We're not talking about money because we need it -- God will provide. And our congregation has historically been vry generous.
We're talking about money because Jesus talked about money. He said, "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also." We want to talk about this way of diving in and becoming a part of the community.
We looked at the Scripture passage Acts 2:41-47. This passage happened after Peter's preaching at Pentecost, when 3000 people became part of the new church.
"Devoted" means to occupy oneself diligently with. Those new Christians were devoted to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.
They met together regularly.
"The apostles' teaching" is now in the Bible for us. When we come to Christ, we make Jesus and His word the highest authority.
We're a well-educated congregation, and it's normal for us to make our own reason the highest authority. Coming to Jesus gives authority to Him.
The word "fellowship" can also be translated "community." This is what the church is!
They met in homes and were devoting themselves to each other.
Devoting ourselves to those same four things -- the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer -- is a path to effective living.
Why did the first Christians give?
First of all, they gave because of their commitment to one another.
The church is a network of relationships. We're "organized" because it helps us be there for each other.
We give to create an environment to facilitate community.
"Glad and sincere hearts" can be translated as "glad and generous hearts."
We encourage you without apology to give and give generously.
If you're a long-time Gateway member who has been giving, we encourage you "don't grow weary in doing good." Keep on giving!
If you haven't been giving, step in and give. (But do seek God first.) Let's go deeper this year and seek God -- you'll be expanded.
If you're new to Gateway, step in and give. You're not here by accident, but you're also not here to be a casual observer.
"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We'd love your heart to be among us here in this network of believers.