Lessons About Generosity from Otto
Several years ago, a good friend gave me the book “A Man Called Ove,” which recently became a movie renamed “A Man Called Otto” starring Tom Hanks. If you have yet to read the book or see the film, don’t worry, I won’t give away too much about the storyline. Otto is a curmudgeonly widower who gives growls and harsh words to anyone near him. As the movie goes on, we learn more about Otto, his life, obstacles, love, and loss. But we also see an amazing transformation happen when circumstances force him to take his eyes off himself and his pain; he finds a new purpose and meaning in his life. His character changes from selfish and closed off to selfless and caring. The more Otto invested his time in getting to know his new neighbors, rekindling an old friendship, and understanding one of his wife’s former students, his heart changed. Once his heart changed, his actions followed. And that’s an important lesson.
It’s A Heart Issue
Changing our actions and behaviors to avoid things that are “bad” and do things that are “good” doesn’t make us Christians. God doesn’t just change our minds; He changes our hearts. The more time we spend with Him, the more he makes his desires our desires. God says, through the prophet Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Expressions From The Heart
We often recognize generosity because we can see the outward expression of something happening inside people. Generosity is a character trait; like any other character trait, it requires development. For people to become generous, something must first change in their hearts. So when Pastor Britt shared the information about the second quarter of this fiscal year, we could see the outward expression of hearts changed by Jesus.
If you did not get Pastor Britt’s Quarterly letter, here are a few highlights:
Evaluating “progress” in a church can be difficult. One of the pastors I worked for (way back in the day) used to say he wanted to know the “nickels and noses” report! 😊 Offerings and attendance are certainly valid markers, and we track metrics for both. But, there are other indicators for how a church is doing: baptisms, confessions of faith, cash flow, capital projects, the spirit of people – all good and helpful in assessing health. No matter how you measure it, the last quarter (Jan-March) has been truly remarkable for Sunridge:
- Attendance is up 10% overall from last year.
- We had the highest Easter attendance of the last four years, and we baptized seven.
- Giving is at 98% of budget, and we’re positive in cashflow.
- New financial partners are joining our mission.
- At a recent women’s event, six women made a first-time confession of faith, and are going through a 5 week “foundations” course on Sunday mornings.
- Children’s ministry reopened Block 45 Sunday mornings for the first time since covid. (Block 45 is a class for just 4th & 5th graders and begins to prepare kids for middle school ministry). Kudos to Tara, her team and especially the leaders of Block 45 – Bruce and Suzanne Mckenzie!
- Vertical Marriage, a video-driven couple’s study “sold out.” Look for a repeat on Sunday mornings soon for those who couldn’t come because the course was full!
- Among other beautiful opportunities to bring hope, the Agape Fund prevented several people from becoming homeless by providing hotel rooms until other options opened. The Agape Fund is financed separately from the General Fund (See “Dollar Club” in the e-blast every communion Sunday for how you can participate).
- The lighting in the MPR is being changed to brighter, more adjustable and more energy-efficient LED fixtures. And, a new storage area was completed!
- The planters in the parking lot are being changed from mulch to rock, which means lower maintenance and long term more aesthetically pleasing. BTW: The rock was donated by a member at Sunridge and all the labor is being done by our facilities and “A-team.” (Volunteers who do all kinds of projects on the campus)
- The back parking lots are still on the market and have had a couple nibbles but no offers as of yet. Please keep praying with us for those to sell. They are the key to Sunridge becoming a debt-free church.
- Last, just this past Sunday one of the missionary couples we support, Alex and Amy Galloway, were with us in the Sunday service. I hope you saw them. They are doing such amazing work. Alex just returned from Ukraine where he was doing trauma intervention and counseling. When you give to the general fund you are supporting missionary efforts around the world, like the work Alex and Amy are doing from their homebase in Spain.
Once again, thank you for being one of our financial supporters. I hope this quarterly report is as encouraging to you as it is to me. As you can see, the last few months have been remarkable. All glory to God as Sunridge continues to be people who are helping people find and follow Jesus!
We couldn’t do it without you!
Sunridge, thank you for allowing Jesus to change your heart – your expressions of generosity enables us to fulfill our mission. In Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, he wrote, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
If you’re ready to take the step of financial generosity on your journey of following Jesus, just click HERE.
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