Taking the Next Step

 Taking the Next Step Update
“Taking the Next Step” has been a journey of faith as it relates to money, as it relates to the funding of ministries we believe God calls us to be about at Chapel Hill, and as it  relates to the fullness of all we give to God in our prayers, presence, service, and shared stories.  Most of this is qualitative stuff; that is stuff that is not compressed from story into data.   The stories of what this journey to “the next step” are still unfolding.  The data, though still raw and mostly un-interpreted, all has back story.  For now, this is what we know, as of June 8th, of the 326 households related to Chapel Hill, 141 have returned cards with estimates of giving for our ministry year (7.1.17-6.30.18) along with commitments to be in prayer moving forward. Over 50% of those who returned cards have indicated an increase in their giving. I am grateful for all who have submitted their cards, and are committed to God’s work through Chapel Hill.  They have taken a step and without having a clear map!  Leaders at Chapel Hill will have a much better idea of what that map looks like (never perfect and always changing) if all of our households offer their estimate of giving, even if a dollar amount is not included.  Lesa and I believe in God’s work here and took another step up in our giving.  Most importantly, we made known that we are still a part of the community called “Chapel Hill”.  I ask you, if you have not yet returned your card to do so, and to step up and see just what God can do in and through you.
Blessings on the Journey~
Barry Petrucci, Senior Pastor

Taking the Next Step
It has been quite a while since Chapel Hill folks have been given the opportunity to look at stewardship in an extended way.  “Stewardship” is an ancient word that has to do with how we manage all things God has put into our care.   God has called on us to manage our time,  talents,  the world in which we live, sharing the story of Christ in our lives, and  money.  Over the next four weeks we will all be hearing about Taking the Next Step in relationship to taking steps of faith in terms of financial giving to Chapel Hill.  The principles of generously giving back to God in response to all of God’s gifts to us, though, hold true for offerings of prayer, presence, gifts beyond money, service, and our witness.   

Taking the Next Step is spiritually centered, using basic understandings from the Bible and our faith tradition.  At the heart of this, God has always called followers to respond to Christ’s love with gifts of love. This is for the formation of spiritual strength.  While the financial needs of the church as institution are real, Taking the Next Step is about building the spiritual core of individuals, households, and this faith community.  In recent years, the basic financial needs of the church have been mostly met by our giving when a financial need is presented.   This year, we return to a prayerful time for each of us to examine God’s place in the household, and to respond accordingly.  Taking the Next Step challenges all of us to stretch in faith so that we all might see that God’s provision is more than sufficient for each to take a step of faith!

The amount of giving is not something the church, or anyone else should decide.  The gift each gives in response to gifts God has given is totally a matter between you and God.  And so, prayerful reflection is practiced in these four weeks.  Some of us may find that the answer is to take a couple of steps in growth, some one step, some none…and some may find that life condition is such that prayer leads to understanding this as a time to step back and rely on the support of this church community.  The household gift is all about relationship with God and about how each of us feels led to give,    financially and otherwise.  This is an awesome time for all of us to step back and consider how we will give to God with extravagant generosity.

Taking the Next Step...Devotional Booklet
As part of our season of learning about stewardship, pick up a copy of “Practicing Extravagant Generosity”, a 4 week daily devotional booklet by Robert Schnase.  Books are available beginning today. A $5 donation will help defray cost, but should not be a barrier for anyone who is interested in reading.  Questions?  Contact the church office at  269-327-6643.

Taking the Next Step…Footprints
Around the church you will see children’s foot prints.  Taking the Next Step is for us now and for our future. The children are Portage Chapel Hills’ future. Take a moment to look at the footprints around the church, read what the child has said about why/how Chapel Hill is important to them. During this time of discerning your next step, prayerfully think about how the NOW can impact the future.