What are you asking me to do?
We are challenging all of our church to ask God what sacrificial gift would represent him having first place in our finances and memorialize it by making a First faith commitment. We are asking you to pray and seek God for how he wants you to respond to put him first. Prepare your heart to hear him, and then listen to what he says. Connect to a small group if you are not already a part of one. Talk with your family and small group about what this commitment will mean for this next season. Respond to the generosity of the gospel by giving extravagantly for the progress of the gospel in our church family, among our neighbors, and around the world.
How long is my commitment?
We are asking everyone to make a First faith commitment. For those of us who began this journey in the fall of 2018, our commitment will be for two years (Dec. 1, 2018–Dec. 31, 2019). For those who are new to First, we are asking that you commit for the next year (Dec. 1, 2019–Dec. 31, 2020).
What if I’m new around here?
We’re excited that you are considering partnering with us! The local church is God’s “Plan A” for conforming families to the image of Christ, reaching our community, and bringing the gospel to the nations. First is a great time and way to identify with us and to say, “I am all-in for the gospel!” Be sure to check out how you can get connected to the Summit by attending Starting Point.
What if I’ve never given to the Summit before?
If you have never given financially to the Summit, First is for you! First is a one-fund generosity initiative. It is different from a traditional capital campaign where you are asked to give an extra gift over and above your regular giving. Rather, First recognizes that everyone in the church is called to give generously and sacrificially. First is not merely for "super-givers"; it is for all of us. It is a call to radical generosity for everyone at the Summit. If you have never given before, this is your chance to join us through joyful and committed generosity.
How does the one-fund approach to First change my giving to support the general budget, missions, facilities, campus expansion, and other special offerings?
During this period, every contribution to God’s work through the Summit is a contribution to our First initiative. Every aspect of the ministry vision God is calling us toward will be funded through First. There will not be separate funds. Every gift made will go into the same First fund. Therefore, every weekend becomes an opportunity to celebrate and contribute to what God is doing in and through The Summit Church as we give to put Jesus first in all things.
Will giving for mission trips or support-raised positions be counted as a part of First?
There are hundreds of things that God leads people at the Summit to support, and we rejoice in all of them. However, for budgeting and planning purposes gifts designated for something other than the First fund are not counted as a part of First. The First fund does not include giving for mission trips or support-raised staff positions. As you generously respond to these opportunities, your gift will be recorded and reflected in you annual giving statement in addition to your faith commitment to First.
Are there ways besides cash that I can give to First?
Be creative as you explore ways you and your family can give. Don’t overlook stored assets that you own. Gifts of appreciated property (stocks, real estate, mutual funds, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, etc.) are excellent ways to give back to God and his work and they often have significant tax advantages. Giving a planned gift through your estate can be another strategic way to advance the mission of God. You can learn more about this at one of our upcoming Estate Planning Seminars. Feel free to consult with a professional advisor for advice in your particular circumstance. If you need assistance gifting a non-cash asset, we would be delighted to help! You can learn more or contact Blair Graham, our Pastor of Stewardship and Generosity, for questions about and instructions on how to do this.
Can my cash gift towards First be credited to my faith commitment amount?
The IRS requires that all gifts must be identifiable to the donor. If you prefer to give cash, simply place it in an envelope and clearly mark your name and address, and our accounting team will be able to credit it to your First faith commitment.
What if I’m a college student?
God has blessed the Summit by allowing us to invest in the lives of college students here in the Triangle. Although college students are notorious for living on tight budgets, the college years are an ideal time to develop a kingdom-focused plan in the areas of personal budgeting and generous giving. This is a time when students from all the colleges and universities represented at The Summit Church should join forces and go all-in by giving generously to help us put Jesus first in everything.
What if I don't have a job right now? What does that mean for my First commitment?
First is about radical dependence on God for everything in the gospel. God knows our every need, and The Summit Church wants to help meet the needs both in our church and in our community. If you do not have a job and are actively seeking one, we’d love for you to share this with your campus pastor so that our team of elders can be praying for you. Also, consider connecting to a small group, where you will find a community of people who are ready to encourage you and pray with you. Our hope is that you will be able to find a job so that you can be engaged in all that God has for you.
What if I can’t afford to give right now?
Even in times of scarcity, God wants our hearts. The widow who gave her last mite did not make a very big financial contribution, but Jesus said she gave the largest gift of all. First is about all of us coming together, giving generously, and trusting God to do the rest. It may mean that God is asking you to trust him by making a faith commitment that you do not know how to fulfill right now. God has supplied our every need in Christ, and we trust that he will honor a heart that wants to give generously in response to the gospel. First means all of us, together—for each other, for our neighbors, and for our world.
There may also be ways to be sacrificial with your lifestyle to create margin for generosity in your life. Some will cancel cable and some will ditch the smartphone plan and return to a basic mobile phone. Others will play a little less golf and still others will forego a few caramel macchiatos every week. Some families have downsized their homes in order to give more freely for the progress of the gospel. This is a time for all of us to ask how our financial decisions are impacted by our priorities, by what what we put first in our lives. Find ways to involve the entire family in this process. Use this as an opportunity to teach children and grandchildren to obey the Lord with a generous heart and to trust him. This is a great opportunity to take a look at our overall stewardship of all that God has entrusted to us.
What if I’m severely in debt right now? Am I still supposed to give?
It’s important for generosity to be a part of our lives at every point. If you are in the process of paying off debt, we commend you, and you should continue to do so. But the Bible does not teach that we withhold giving until we are debt-free. When we honor God first with our giving, he promises to be involved with every other aspect of finances. Contact us if you would like to speak with a volunteer financial coach. Also, we invite you to attend Financial Peace University, where you will not only learn some great principles of personal finance but also God’s perspective on our stewardship of his resources. You can find more stewardship resources like this at summitchurch.com/stewardship.
How much is enough?
Knowing that we should give can be easy, but knowing how much to give presents a greater challenge. God has always had his people give the first fruits of his provision back to him. Throughout the Old Testament, this took the form of the tithe. Approximately 400 years before the Law was given, both Abraham and Jacob offered the Lord a tithe of everything that he had given to them. The word “tithe” simply means “a tenth.” In response to the provision and the promise of God, these heroes of the faith offered the Lord not merely a tenth of their income but a tenth of everything God had given to them.
The Law codifies the principle of giving a tithe, but it also makes provision for peace offerings and freewill offerings to the Lord. Even the Law encouraged the people of God to exceed the minimum requirements of the Law!
Christ fulfilled the promise of the Law. This does not give us an excuse for no longer giving a tenth; rather, it should motivate us to give in grateful response to God. He keeps his promise and allows us the joy of being a part of his plan for meeting the needs of his people. In Acts, the Church did not allow a legalistic reading of the tithe to limit their generosity. Instead, they saw the immense needs among the Body of Christ and gave accordingly.
In short, first fruit giving is a universal biblical principle. The tithe is a good place to start for many believers, but it is not a good place to stay. The principle that guides us as we give is this: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 ESV).
The King of Kings left Heaven to give his life. If we are putting Him first in our lives, how will our giving reflect this?
Why do churches talk about money, finances, and giving so much?
Jesus spoke more about money than he did about heaven and hell combined. Paul is so concerned about our tendency to separate our giving from our living of the Christian life that he admonishes us to excel in the grace of giving also (2 Corinthians 8:7). Giving is an essential part of the Christian life.
The church mentions money frequently because money is frequently a spiritual stumbling block in our lives. Our finances give us a false sense of security that should only come from God. Bringing this area of our lives under his control is simply of vital importance for every believer. Jesus plainly said, we cannot serve both God and money.
Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Where are we investing our time, our talents, and our treasure? Jesus would tell us that the answers to those questions will reveal all we need to know about where our heart is. Let’s pray for one another during this season, that we would all put Jesus first, because that is the only place where he rightfully belongs.
For any additional questions, please reach out to our Pastor of Stewardship and Generosity, Blair Graham, at (919) 354-5952 or email@example.com.