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December 28, 2021

Financial Update #2: Unexpected Generosity

Jon Grano

Pastor for Operations

While reading the Advent devotional book The Christmas We Didn’t Expect by David Mathis, I was reminded of Isaiah 55:8–9 as David “rehearsed the surprising twists and stunning turns of God himself being born a man” ...

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Similarly, I was surprised when reviewing a recent Dave Ramsey article, “The National Study of Millionaires,” because of several unusual and unexpected facts ... 

  • Three of the top five professions of millionaires in the United States are accountants, engineers, and teachers.
  • Only 31% averaged $100,000 a year over the course of their career, and one-third never made six figures in any single working year of their career.
  • 94% of the people studied said they live on less than they make.
  • 93% of millionaires use coupons all or some of the time when shopping.

Why share these details in this year-end financial update? Because in God’s surprising kingdom, where five loaves and two fish can be multiplied to feed more than 5,000 (Matthew 14:17–21), generous stewardship can come from unusual and yet “normal” sources. Bethlehem experienced this generosity in 2021 through several unexpected gifts to support ministry. And when Christ’s body is working properly, growing and building itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16), some are given “generosity” gifts of grace by Christ for the edification and encouragement of the entire body (Romans 12:8).

Our fiscal year comes to a close in just three days, with anticipated ministry expenses of $9.6M ($600K less than our $10.2M congregationally-approved budget) and with $8.5M contributed through this past Sunday (December 26). Please join me in praying for a gift of glad-hearted generosity that overflows in building up this local body, so that the nations and our neighbors are reached, and ministry in 2022 can begin on a strong financial foundation. 

2021 Giving Details

  • Use the Bethlehem Online Giving portal to set up one-time or recurring giving via eCheck or credit card, where you can view your giving history, recurring giving schedule, and Contribution Statement. You can also donate via Bethlehem’s mobile app or text-to-give feature (text “BBC amount” to 612-223-7432—for example, “BBC 100”).
  • All online contributions must be transacted before 11:45pm Central Time on December 31. All contributions in checks or cash must be postmarked by December 31, or brought to the church by December 30 (since offices are closed December 31).
  • If you have questions about contribution options, including donations of stock or yearly “Required Minimum Distributions” (RMD) from an IRA account, contact Bethlehem’s Financial Secretary, Steve Walmsley (612-338-7653 x463).

Thank you for your faithful giving in 2021 through November, and for $900K already contributed in December—yet another example of God’s faithfulness and grace to Bethlehem for the past 150 years. As you prayerfully consider a final year-end gift to help cover the current projected $1.1M deficit, may we each ponder afresh the unexpected nature of Christmas—Immanuel, God with us—and look forward to his future grace each day of the coming year.

Noon Update on Friday, December 31, 2021
Financial Secretary Steve Walmsley informed me that as of Noon today (Dec 31), an additional $500K has been given toward Bethlehem’s 2021 ministry expenses since Sunday (Dec 26). This most recent 2021 contribution total ($9M) means we are now currently about $600K shy of meeting expected 2021 ministry expenses of $9.6M.

See the Financial Update #1: Inform, Encourage, Challenge, posted December 15.