The Importance of Vision
One key feature in raising resources for ministry is to celebrate an annual Commitment Day. This is the time where the minister askes the congregation to do two things. First to make a financial pledge indicating how much the person will give to the church in the next year. This is often expressed as a weekly amount. Second, the congregation is also asked to make a one-off gift to the church for some special project. Normally there are several different projects proposed as people will support what touches their heart.
Then in the lead up to Commitment Day the mister preaches a five- or six-week Commitment Series of messages. This series is designed to strengthen the faith of the congregation. Raising money is a by-product. If the minister approaches the series as a money-making exercise, it is likely to fail. However, if the aim is to raise Christian maturity and increase generosity as a part of that goal, the congregation is far more likely to be uplifted and respond with joy.
When I started to learn about this process, I listened to some well-known ministers from overseas preach such a series. I always wondered if I could plan my own. As it turned out it was not too difficult because the bible is absolutely brimming with passages and topics that raise faith and encourage generosity. As I am now retired, I don’t deliver such series anymore. The person to do this is properly the senior minister and the messages normally shouldn’t be outsourced. However, such series still occur to me. Recently on a walk I suddenly thought that a wonderful set of messages could be constructed on the theme of love, that would be extremely profitable to the spiritual life of the congregation.
Here are some possibilities.
1 Love God: the first great commandment.
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Matt 22:37-38.
2 Love your neighbour: the second great commandment.
‘And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matt 22:39
Personally, I would avoid the desire to conflate these two sermons into one but rather tease out the implications in two messages.
3 God loves the world
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
This is the best known and best loved verse in the bible and brings the love of God as seen in the death of Christ into focus. Any series of sermons on love must centre on the death of Jesus.
4 Love your marriage partner
‘Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’. Eph 5:25
This message allows the preacher to address love in marriage. It is appropriate in the present me-too climate to focus particularly on the husband’s responsibility. The scripture also links such love to the atonement so grounding the message in theological depth.
5 Love your enemies
‘But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ Matt 5:44
I would certainly include this theme as it is so distinctively Christian. Jesus points out that anyone can love their mates but to love your enemies is something else altogether.
6 Love money: Not!
‘For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.’ 1Tim 6:10
In each commitment series I try to include one message on generosity and the right use of money. I have included a sample sermon on the ideas contained here and embedded later in 1Tim 6:17-10 in my book Giving Generously, https://givinggenerously.com/ ,which I commend to you.
7 Love is the Greatest
To conclude the series, I would preach on the wonderful chapter, 1 Cor 13, which will surely sum up everything any preacher wants to say.
This grouping is a little unusual as I have proposed seven messages rather than five or six. This is simply because there are so many wonderful ways to approach this subject. Thus, I am acutely aware that there are many other ‘love’ themes that could be considered and perhaps form the basis for
a further series. I commend these to you as starts for your own deliberations.