As we come to the end of this calendar year—and as I reflect on the Work of God through His Church and through our lives—I can only express deepest appreciation for all He has given us. We praise God for His loving mercy and grace toward us. In this darkened and frightened world, God has brought us into the light of His presence and has granted us security.
We are all products of the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God—given to us free of charge. It’s the convicting Word of God and the Holy Spirit that have done this. But it was not free to produce. It costs a lot of money to accomplish all the things that the United Church of God produces. There are writers, pastors, television presenters, Ambassador Bible College staff, Internet costs, and much, much more that goes into supporting our collective efforts.
And so, now I come to you with a matter of concern. While we have had steady, but modest growth over the past several years, you may have read in the report from the December meeting of the Council of Elders that the Church’s income for the current fiscal year is about 8 percent under budget. There are a number of possible factors contributing to the lower amount of received donations—including uncertainty about U.S. tax law changes introduced for 2018 (including changes affecting deductions for charitable contributions), and the ongoing correction in the stock market (which Reuters has described as the “worst December performance in 16 years” for U.S. stocks).
We are currently developing the budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year—which will be presented to the Council of Elders in February. With the current downturn in income, it is vitally important that we accurately forecast the Church’s future income so that we can scale our programs accordingly to match the income that God will provide. In mid-January we will be evaluating our finances and making decisions tied to the size of next year’s budget. Our projected revenue will determine how aggressively we can continue with the development of new ministers and continuing the gospel message through Beyond Today , including products from our new video recording studio.
With this in mind, we would appreciate your prayers that we see our income trends clearly as we prepare an appropriate budget. I’d like to request that you please join me in prayer and fasting to our great God on a day of your choosing between now and the end of December. Please ask God to not only bless the United Church of God, an International Association, but for Him to show us how we may be the wisest of stewards with the income and blessings He has given us.
Prayer and fasting are tools that God gives us to humble ourselves and seek His presence among us. Biblically, prayer and fasts have been called for safety, repentance, mourning, and before making an important decision. Again, I am asking that we all fast and seek God collectively in earnest between now and the end of the December.
In this exercise, let us please ask for help in examining ourselves, our hearts and our commitment to the Father and Jesus Christ. We can ask for “indicators” in our lives of the best way to proceed—in the same way we seek financial indicators.
Our budgeting team will be working together to carefully examine every expense, every job and every activity. Is there something we can do better—or do without—and still do the Work of God? Here in the United States it’s important that we stay financially healthy in order to help the rest of this world. Many of the international areas and developing nations require a great deal of financial subsidy in order to do their work—where we have thousands of faithful brethren relying on us.
I am not overly worried—because God knows our needs and has control of any resources required—and I’ve seen His deliverance time and time again in my lifetime.
Please pray that those who are casually donating become more committed and engage themselves more fully in the Work as you have. Pray that our economic environment provides the means to accomplish what needs to be done. Pray that we all examine our own commitment spiritually and financially as well.
May God bless His Church—as He always has—to fulfill Jesus’ commission and promise: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×).
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.