I must admit I grew up with a high degree of idealism. My father was a huge John F. Kennedy Jr. fan. His opening speech when he ran for State Senate in Wisconsin began with the famous quote:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
And from the other side of the aisle we are reminded of this truth:
“No matter how big and powerful the government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers.” — Ronald Reagan
I agree with both of these statements, however this ideal is in the decline…
Both Volunteerism and Charitable Giving are in decline in the United States.
From a high of at least 67% of Americans volunteering, it has dropped to only 23% in 2021.
Americans gave 1.7% of their personal disposable income to charity in 2022, the lowest level they had given since 1995, and far below a high of 2.4% in 2005. Just last year it fell by 3.4%, which equates to a 10.5% decrease when adjusted for inflation.
This has a major impact on nonprofits and our overall society, of which St. Luke’s is not immune.
In our new member classes we walk through the formation of the early church,
Acts 2:41-47 – Life among the Believers
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Our core values come from this passage, “Simply What Every Christian Should Do,”
Service – “…distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
Worship – “…they spent much time together in the temple…praising God.
Evangelism – “having the goodwill of all the people…the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Community – “They devoted themselves to the…fellowship, to breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Stewardship – “All who believe were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods.”
Discipleship – “The devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching.”
These are a necessity to be the Church, the Body of Christ at work in the world today – acts of volunteerism and charitable giving.
Ephesians 4:11-13 explains how this is lived out:
As The gifts God gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers…
There are those who have specific roles, but adapting Ronald Reagan’s words, “No matter how big and powerful the church staff gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of the members of the congregation.”
The goal is…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Just as the early church was counter-cultural in its time, may we do likewise and be counter-cultural in our time – so that the Lord may add to the numbers those who are being saved.
Thank you to all the ministers of St. Luke’s who volunteer their time and charitable giving living out our mission.
St. Luke’s is a welcoming and growing community of faith, busy making Christ known to the world.
Ongoing prayers and blessings, Rob