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The $25 GCF Challenge

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It started at the last business session of General Council 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. A resolution was offered to “trust the Lord for a significant increase in the local church giving to the Great Commission Fund.” The resolution was preceded by several “whereas” statements calling for “each local church [to increase their] giving a mere $25 per week.” It was a great Council moment—a call to push back the darkness and bring back the King. It gripped my heart.

As I drove back to Upstate New York, God began to form a challenge for me to use that Council resolution as a tool to invite people into GCF partnership. Our church had been blessed with several new families that knew little or nothing about The Alliance. If four of these people or families, who were not giving to the GCF, pledged $25 per month, that would add up to $25 per week and meet this challenge for our church. That excited me. As I continued to pray, God grew the vision. If eight people or families stepped up, that would meet the challenge for our church plus one other church. If 12 stepped up, that would be our church and two other churches. How far would God take this?

In the next few weeks, I met with Mark and Joyce Mertz, our church’s Missions Education leaders. Together we put together a five-week plan to present “The $25 GCF Challenge” to the congregation.

On the last weekend of June I simply shared about the $37.5 million dollar budget that had been passed at Council. This budget took into account the economic problems that our country and the denomination were facing. “The Alliance,” I told them, “is not a denomination with a missions budget. In The Alliance, the only budget is the missions budget.” I talked about the struggle that every Christian organization has to balance good stewardship with great faith. I shared that almost immediately after the budget had been passed there were rumblings that it was not big enough, that more needed be done.

Then I told them about the resolution and the excitement that came with it. How it had passed unanimously because in The Alliance we always accept the challenge to push back the darkness and reach the lost. Bringing it back to our congregation, I added that this was our chance to respond the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

At the next weekend’s services, I read the minutes of Council aloud. With each “whereas” you could sense the Holy Spirit stirring God’s people. When I finished, I told them how God had given me a vision that had grown from 4 people to 16 or even 20. I urged them to ask God what part they should play.

The next two weekends, Mark and Joyce did the Missions Moment. On the first, they emphasized the tragedy that comes with a lack of funding—people who would not be reached; missionaries who had to come home or were never sent. On the second weekend, they celebrated God’s work by showing a segment of a recent Alliance Video Magazine about a young African man who was the only Christian in his village. It was powerful.

On the final weekend we put pledge cards in the bulletin that had just two options: “I [name] accept the challenge to give $25 per month to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Great Commission Fund as a new participant” and “I [name] accept the challenge to give an additional $25 per month to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Great Commission Fund.” I preached from Matthew 5:13–15 (we are salt and light) and Romans 10:9–15 (how can they preach unless they are sent?). “There are many good organizations and denominations that send out missionaries,” I concluded, “but nobody does it better than The Alliance.”

I reminded them of Dan and Amber, Alliance missionary candidates (Dan is a young man from our church.) They live in the Chicago area, where Dan is finishing his education and both are getting ministry experience. In a few years they will be ready to go. “Wouldn’t it be heartbreaking if there were no funds to send them? Now is the time to become part of the GCF family. Now is the time to put your name on a pledge card.” Members of the congregation were then instructed to fill out their card and place it on the Communion table.

I admit that my faith was not big enough. On Saturday (with about 70 people in attendance), I prayed, “Please God, touch at least three people.” Twenty-one cards were put on the altar. The next day God blessed us again. It seemed like the 135 adults in the sanctuary could not get out of their seats fast enough, bumping into each other as they came forward. God was changing lives.

So far, the pledges to the GCF add up to $18,860 per year. That breaks down to $363 per week. To say that this has changed our church would be an understatement. But the real rewards will come in the years ahead as these new partners in the GCF grow in their walk with God and workers are dispatched around the world to share the only gospel that can bring salvation.

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