As the year draws to a close you are, no doubt, receiving emails and letters from every not-for-profit organization that has your address, asking you for an end-of-year donation. The strategic timing of these missives relates to capitalizing (literally) on the seasonal spirit of generosity and the relieving of one’s tax burden through a charitable donation before the end of the year. (With the changes in the tax structure in the bill just passed by Congress, that same relief may not be available for many people in 2018.)

None of these organizations will simply say, “Give!” They will, with ample justification and persuasive arguments, seek to convince you that their cause is worthy, your money will be used wisely, and the viability and effectiveness of their work depends on you.

The Church of Jesus Christ should not have to convince his followers that the cause is worthy and that its mission and ministries depend on their gifts. There may be some debate about how wisely the contributions are used, but there can be no doubt that the Church does good work and should continue to do so.

Whether any particular congregation should continue is another matter. The body of Christ on earth, the Church with a capital “C,” has persisted through the millennia, while churches with a small “c” have come and gone.

So, as I seek to remind you of the importance of your financial support of Parkway, this would be a good time for you to consider why you give your offerings to God through this particular part of the body. Do you believe that our cause is worthy, your money will be used wisely, and that the viability and effectiveness of our work depends on you? Here is how I would answer those questions:

We have a worthy cause. We say that we are “a family of faith that equips disciples and shares the love of Jesus Christ to glorify God.” I believe we do that, but in a specific way, utilizing our small size to know one another well, welcome guests personally, become involved in missions intensely, and grow disciples through committed groups.

We use the money contributed wisely. Our finance committee, church council, and all our committees and staff operate in complete transparency. Every quarter someone from the finance committee presents a detailed report to the congregation outlining our overall financial position and how every dollar has been spent. If you study those reports I believe you will reach the conclusion that none of your money has been wasted. I think you would also have to agree that we could do so much more in actual missions and ministries if our contributions exceeded our operating costs by a greater amount.

The viability and effectiveness of our work depend on you. The reality is that, to operate at the current level of programming, missions involvement, and staffing, we depend on each of you doing your part. There is no wiggle room, no “gravy,” no discretionary excess. We all have to be as involved in the financial support of our church as we need to be in the investment of our time and energy.

While I hope you will consider giving an additional gift before the end of the year or catching up on the commitment you have already made, I am more concerned that you recognize the need for ongoing, generous commitment of all your resources — time, talent, and money — to the important work that we do together. Let’s make a great start to 2018.