Generosity produces thanksgiving! The real-world impact of our giving this season
Think back to a time when you received a generous gift from someone. It might have been a big, extravagant gift given unexpectedly, or it could have been a smaller gift that met a really specific need that you had. How did you feel after you received it? Now think back to a time when you gave a generous gift to someone else. When you saw their reaction, how did that make you feel? I imagine in both cases, you felt joy and you felt thankful!
I can think of two specific instances in my own life, one where my family and I received a very generous gift and one where we were able to give generously to a person who was in need. When we received a gift, I was absolutely astonished that someone would be this generous with us, and I just couldn’t stop thanking them and the Lord. The time when we were able to give a gift to someone else, I remember being so thankful that we could be a blessing to them.
Generosity produces thanksgiving, and God has designed it that way. Paul says as much in 2 Corinthians 9:11 - “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.” God gives to us in order that we might be generous with what He gives, and that generosity toward others will result in thanksgiving to God!
Over this past holiday season at The Chapel, we talked about a number of opportunities to give “above and beyond,” to make an investment into Kingdom work happening beyond our own ministry. We listed a number of good partners doing good work, including area churches, outreach ministries, evangelistic efforts, and leader training initiatives. You gave generously to these efforts, and together we are making an investment into these efforts that totals more than $130,000. That’s incredible!
It's so encouraging to see our church respond in this way and give so willingly to these efforts, but what does that investment actually accomplish? What is the result of this generosity? Sometimes we give and we don’t get to fully know the impact of our gift, and that’s ok. But, when we can understand just how meaningful and effective our giving was, we’ll be that much more thankful for the opportunity. My hope in this article is to shed a bit more light on just how meaningful this generosity is.
We aimed our holiday giving this year toward several local, national, and global efforts:
We support a number of local congregations in the Western New York area because we believe that the mission of God requires all of God’s people and every expression of His church in our area. Through this holiday giving, we are able to make a significant investment into the Kingdom work through local churches in Western New York.
These funds will help to see four new church plants launched through our Church Planting Initiative (CPI), and these new church expressions are meeting real and diverse needs in our area. One of these new congregations is mostly composed of Congolese refugees. Another is aimed at reaching Muslims in our city. These church plants are being launched in areas of our city where a gospel-centric church is not yet accessible to that local community.
We’re also helping to see a new church plant launch in Baldwinsville, NY in partnership with Missio Church. Many of you remember that we participated in the launching of Missio Church when they began over ten years ago. Today, their congregation is sending one of their pastors to begin a new work nearby to them as they impact greater Syracuse with the gospel of Jesus.
Think about this in terms of real people having life-changing access to the gospel in their neighborhood. If each church plant reaches just one hundred new people this year, that means that these funds will help to ensure that 500 new people have repeated opportunities to hear and see the gospel!
Not only are we investing into new expressions, but we’re also blessing two existing congregations by meeting very specific needs that they have. Through this generous giving, we’re providing New Generation Church (Bishop Stephen Kulu) and Wonder Church (Pastor Joe Vacanti) with funds to repair deteriorating roofs and complete necessary building repairs so that their churches can meet and the surrounding communities can come and join in. These projects impact hundreds of people in our community! Thanks be to God.
How did you first hear the gospel of Jesus? Was it at church, through a friend, or was it possibly through a local outreach ministry? We know that these important outreach ministries are helping to care for and reach our community.
There are around 50,000 students in school at UB, BuffState or Erie Community College. Through this holiday giving, we’re making an investment into Bridges International, Campus Ambassadors, Cru, and International Students, Inc. These are all on-campus ministries that are working to ensure that the gospel is visible and has an impact on the thousands of young students in our community.
We’re also helping to support Hearts for the Homeless, a ministry dedicated to feeding, clothing, and caring for the chronic homeless and poor within our community. In 2020, Hearts for the Homeless cared for over 13,000 people in Buffalo! With this investment into their ministry, we are helping to advance their efforts in operating a thrift shop that will provide affordable items and bring dignity to those that they serve, create a coffee shop space that will invite in the community to repeated conversations, and continue to operate their much needed food pantry.
The impact goes beyond Western New York
As you can see, we’re deeply committed to our community and to ensuring that the mission is accomplished here in our backyard. What we’re committed to locally, we also want to see happen in our nation and around the world. That is why we also support efforts nationally and globally where God has given us opportunity.
With the funds from our holiday giving, we are making an investment into “Christ Together.” This is a national effort that The Chapel has a key stake in to help resource, train, and envision pastors and leaders to reach their city with the gospel. Pastors and leaders from 96 cities across North America have joined together with a shared commitment to ensure that every man, woman, and child will have repeated opportunities to hear and see the gospel. This investment and the effort that it represents has an impact on millions of people across our country and their opportunity to respond to the gospel of Jesus.
We're also investing into The Rock Church in Cleveland, Ohio in a similar way that we are with the two local congregations in WNY, helping them with a roof and building repair project. Pastor Dave Brunelle leads that congregation in Ohio, has participated in our Reno U program, and is a friend in ministry.
With our desire to also invest globally, we are partnering with two strategic ministries in the Middle East that are establishing long term gospel centric impact. One (we can't share their name) has identified 130 former practicing Muslims who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and feel called to be leaders or pastors in their nations! We have been invited to share in this incredible opportunity to invest into these individuals who will soon be trained in solid theological teaching, establish safe mentoring relationships, and be encouraged as they boldly network with each other to share Christ and care for God’s people where they live.
The other is “Israel First Fruits,” a foundational ministry of Jewish business professionals. These leaders have come to faith in Jesus and are using their business platform in the Israel marketplace to advance the gospel through best practices guided by Biblical Principles, peer relationships that lead to gospel proclamation, and community influence that was created through their integrity and ethics clearly displayed in their own lives, their employees and the companies they run.
As you read about the real-world impact of this generosity, aren’t you thankful? Doesn’t your heart swell with joy as you think about the part we get to play in all this? Seeing people from other nations in our city have a church to attend and invite their friends to, seeing college students hear about Jesus for the first time, seeing the poor in our community find help and dignity, seeing our leaders in our nation come together to reach our cities with the gospel, seeing former muslims now trained to preach the gospel or seeing Jewish businesses standing for truth in their communities.
Generosity produces thanksgiving. Thanks be to God for our opportunity to participate in His great mission in the world!