For All the Saints

For All the Saints

 

Today, November 1, is All Saints Day. This is day to honor those who have gone before us in the faith. I realize that most congregations will celebrate this day Sunday, November 5. What a special time to give thanks to God for the lives of our brothers and sisters in the faith, who now rest from their labors. We give thanks to God for the sacrifices these men and women made to establish and support our congregations.

 

We often find ourselves taking for granted the very places where we gather for worship. We neglect the people, who had a vision to create a community of faith, and then gave of themselves to make it happen. These saints gave generously for the sake of the kingdom of God.

 

The founding generations of our churches reached out into their communities to invite and disciple new believers. These saints were willing to engage new methods to reach new people in their day and time. Founding generations gave their time and resources to support pastoral leadership and construct places of worship. Founding generations lived out their faith in such a way that it made a lasting impact in their communities. Now it is our moment as the saints of the church to model generosity and faith for new generations.

 

How are we reaching out into our communities to invite and develop new disciples? What is the measure of our generosity?


Financial Reality

Financial Reality

 

A recent article by Maurie Backman of The Motley Fool appeared on MSN. The article stated that almost half of Americans die nearly broke. A recent study by GoBankingRates discovered that 59% of American adults admitted to having less than $1,000 in savings. Another study found that 46% of retirees die with savings of less than $10,000. When other assets, such as a home, is taken into account, the number gets a little better.

 

The issue is that if senior adults are dying with little savings, it means they are vulnerable to unexpected expenses. This is why adults over 65 carry over $6,300 in credit card debt. They do not have much in the way of liquid assets. Younger people have years to work in order to offset debt, but older adults often have no way to earn additional income.

 

Now is the time to address the issue. Make a decision today to begin to save an emergency fund, even if it means a change in lifestyle. This applies to younger folks as well as senior adults. I believe the church needs to be addressing the financial issues confronting members. We cannot afford to be silent, when so many are making bad financial decisions.


Hard Economic News for Mississippi Counties

Hard Economic News for Mississippi Counties

The Wall Street Journal published an electronic story on counties in this country where the American Dream is dead. It began by stating that the percentage of children who grow up to earn more than their parents is down from 90% of children born in 1940 to 50% of children born in the 1980’s. The article went on to say that neighborhood environments have substantial effects on children’s economic outcomes. I imagine this is not shocking news for most of us.

The article went on to say that the chance of earning an average income of more than $26,090, which is the lowest national income quartile, goes down for every year of childhood spent in economically challenged counties. Put another way, the poorest counties have a toxic effect on the income chances of its children. The article went on to list the top 50 counties where the average incomes lost are greatest.

A standard to keep in mind will be helpful. The national poverty rate is 15/5%. Quitman County, MS is number 32 of the 50 counties listed with an average income loss of $214 for every year a child lives there. The poverty rate is 33.1%. Grenada County is just behind with an income loss of $215 per year and a poverty rate of 20.9%. Washington County is number 28, followed by Oktibbeha County at number 26 and Bolivar County at number 25. Sunflower County is number 24 with an income loss of $228 per year and a poverty rate of 30%. Unfortunately, there are more.

Tallahatchie County is number 22 and Leflore County with a drop of $236 per year and a poverty rate of 34.8% is number 16. Then comes Claiborne County with a drop of $242 per year and a poverty rate of 32.4% at number 13. Tunica County stands at number 10 with a rate of $249 in lost income each year and a poverty rate of 33.1%. Finally, we have Humphreys County with an income loss of $253 per year and a poverty rate of 38.2% at number 9 and Coahoma County at number 7 with an income loss of $273 per year and a poverty rate of 35.9%.

I feel these numbers may be a call for churches to expand generosity and stewardship education beyond the need to give and into the area of personal financial management. Bad money


Christians Need Help Getting Final Wishes in Order

Christians Need Help Getting Final Wishes in Order

 

The “State of the Plate” report for 2016 suggests that 46% of people who attend our churches have no will or estate plans. Most churches fail to realize that the largest donations they will ever receive are from someone’s accumulated assets or estate. Yet, most churches do nothing to assist their members in making such plans.

Only 46% of those in our churches with a will or estate plan will make a donation to their church or favorite charity as a part of their final wishes. This means that only 24 out of 100 will leave something from an estate donation to their church.

We need to do a better job of helping our folks prepare for the future. It is not about trying to twist an arm for money from an estate, but assisting our members in making faithful and caring plans for their future. I believe that most regular worshippers in our churches will make a bequest, if they are invited to do so in a caring way.

Think about a simple phrase in newsletters and bulletins. “Have you remembered your church in your will?” Your Foundation will be glad to assist you in developing a plan to assist your members in making good decisions about their future.