Steve Wirth believes in generosity. He has seen it at work in his former congregation, Grace First. He is seeing it at work in his new role as Regional Representative to the Presbyterian Foundation. And is looking forward to seeing it at work in the Los Ranchos Challenge Fund. Steve is the Moderator of the Challenge Fund Communications Team.
“Generosity breeds generosity,” says Steve. “We have to get out of the fearful mode.”
For Steve, it is simple. Any church that starts a new mission will grow more healthy because that is what we as the church are called to do and be.
“If you can get a congregation involved in new mission it, stronger giving, attracting new people, and a focus outside their walls, the presbytery as a whole will benefit on the wider scale,” he continued. “What a wonderful opportunity this is for us as a presbytery to try to jump start new mission among our churches.”
When he was at Grace First he saw such generosity firsthand with the ‘Katrina Project.’ What started as an attempt to help the Gulf blossomed into giving in ways the congregation had never seen before. “The giving opened up our thinking in terms of what was possible and what God could do with us if we just gave him a chance,” Steve shared.
Not only was the congregation able to fulfill their commitment to the Gulf, but they also renovated the fellowship hall and found that they had money to upgrade the kitchen – something that had been needed for years, but that ‘never had the money.’ All of a sudden, the congregation saw that they could in fact raise the money for what was needed.
“What started out as an opportunity to give money away in mission turned out to also benefit us as a congregation and allowed us to see what we were capable of.”
Everyone got excited. Steve wants to see that happen again – in the form of the Los Ranchos Challenge Fund.
“That is my hope – that we can maximize this money that is going to go away if we don’t find ways to put it to use.”
It’s already beginning to happen. Churches that have had projects bouncing around in their heads but have been constrained by resources have come forward with their ideas. His own former congregation, Grace First, has put in one of the applications for an ‘adopt an elder program’ that seeks to partner youth with elderly alzheimer’s patients. Placentia Presbyterian has plans to reach out to the community with the express purpose of becoming a more multicultural congregation.
“My attitude is, this is free money – what do we have to lose?” Steve does recognize that there is a tendency at times to want to ‘hunker down’ and to ‘protect.’ “But whenever anyone starts to hunker down I say, give it away. I think there is a Bible verse that says something about giving away your life to find life…”
Does your congregation have a creative idea you’d like to try? Fill out the application form, turn it in for the validation committee review, and prepare for something new to be born!