It’s not unusual for a church to dip into its reserves to meet needs when giving drops.
It is unusual for a church to use “rainy day” funds to meet the needs of community service groups not even affiliated with the church.
First Baptist Church in Greensboro voted Jan. 14 to give $15,000 each to the local Salvation Army and the Greensboro Urban Ministry, according to pastor Ken Massey. The vote was unanimous after the church’s deacon chairman and the chairman of the finance committee presented “heartfelt rationale” of why the church should donate the money, Massey said.
The chairmen told church members that other people needed help and the congregation had more than most. They said Christians are called to live by faith and not sight, according to Massey.
“We believe God will provide for us,” he said.
Massey said the church had money in reserve as a rainy day fund for potential tough times.
“I really expected in the conversation more concern since we’re behind in giving about 9 percent,” he said. “I really expected more concern that we might need it down the road.”
Instead, the discussion was positive and centered on the needs of others, Massey said.
“For me, it was just a wonderful reminder that when times are difficult Christians can be at their best,” he said.
First Baptist members realized many in Greensboro have been negatively impacted by the economic downturn.
“I hope the church modeled what we ask our church members to do — that is give beyond their fears,” he said. “It’s easy to want to hold onto it in case things get worse, because they might.”
Massey said he thinks the church’s decision was the result of two recent events.
In the fall, the church hosted an economic summit with local experts and ministry leaders. During the meeting, the head of the local Urban Ministry told the congregation that about 3,000 school children in Guilford County are homeless, Massey said. The gathering prompted church members to think about how they could help.
The church has also been in a “visioning process,” according to Massey. The effort revealed that church members want to minister to local people impacted by the economic crisis.
Some church members are already ministering in various ways, Massey said. But until the church can organize its own practical ministries, church members decided that those already ministering could use money the church had in its reserves.
Massey said the two groups will likely use the money to restock their food supply, to serve food to people and to provide financial assistance.
“They both do great work,” he said.
Massey said he enjoyed telling leaders of the two organizations about the church’s decision. Both had read about it in a local newspaper column.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “That’s a great feeling.”