“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” – John 15:10
“If you embrace my story, if you live my story, if you tell my story, then you will remain in my love – just like I have been living, and telling, my Father’s story…” – author paraphrase
Tomorrow is “Commitment Sunday” at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church. What that means – essentially – is that people are encouraged to turn in their pledge cards for 2019, making a commitment to support the work of the church in every way, time, gifts, and dollars.
For us here at WFPC – with somewhere around 1,000 “adherents” (some new metric invented by the “PC-USA research and statistical trends report”) – that means in the neighborhood of $850,000 for the budget plus another couple of hundred thousand in capital funds and additional giving for Mission.
This is also a communion Sunday. Remembering what Jesus has done for us, taking the bread and the wine, puts our response to giving in an appropriate and deeply meaningful context.
Telling Our Story:
My focus in today’s post is the 2018 Generosity Campaign, a series of emails sent out by the church office over the weeks leading up to this weekend – a very simple approach built around a recurring message that bookends every email.
The mailing begins with the question, “What does our story look like?” There is a photograph and then a short paragraph describing the area of ministry illustrated in the image. The mailing concludes with, “Your pledge for 2019 will help us to continue to tell our story.”
For me, the emails have been extremely effective. I love the idea that our life together as this part of the Body of Christ is a faith story that we live out loud. A story that is also our own story, a story that we participate in, a story that we share with the world.
A Story is Something we Live!
Stories like this are not static. We are not a mural painted on the side of a building, set in stone; we are not a piece of stained glass that may be pretty but remains exactly the same; we are not a museum exhibit pointing back at something that is done and gone; we are not a “ticket-holders only” show people stop in and visit on a Sunday morning…. No, what we are – “who” we are – is the living, breathing, growing, interactive, on-our-feet-and-mobile, STORY of real people who worship God, love Jesus, and live it out through the power of the Holy Spirit.
what we are – “who” we are – is the living, breathing, growing, interactive, on-our-feet-and-mobile, STORY of real people who worship God, love Jesus, and live it out through the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is the story we want to know, and to understand, and to live, and to tell with as much passion and energy and authenticity as we can muster.
It is the story of Jesus.
We don’t rely on a program, or a gimmick, or a benefit package for members, or a formulaic key to prosperity and easy living. We have Jesus.
And we have the followers of Jesus, all sorts, young and not-so-young, living the Jesus story out loud and with a lot of enthusiasm.
That is what we want people to commit to – to live the story of Jesus.
In love, and because of love – DEREK
(I gave the church office a bunch of pictures from this past year to use in the emails. Here are a few – if you want to see what our story looks like. Better still, show up and join us)
faith leadership photography The Church The Story commitment Sunday featured John 15 PC(USA) remain in my love telling the story the Jesus Story tithes and offerings Wake Forest Wake Forest Presbyterian
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.