Sharing with the Saints (Rom. 12:13)
The Deacons’ Newsletter Volume II, Number 2
These are uncertain times. Which is why we want to give you some practical advice is this issue that you can start implementing immediately to protect your household.
First, remember Paul’s words: “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
You are not alone. Cast your worries to God in prayer. If you need something, ask Him for it. Even during uncertain times, God works together all things to good for those who love Him and have been called by Him according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
Now, let’s look at how serious things are as proof of how concerned we should be. Not anxious, but concerned.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and unprecedented shutdown of the economy by state governors has thrust us into the fastest recession we’ve ever seen.
Consider the facts. Over 16.8 million Americans lost their jobs in the first three weeks of the lockdowns, and more job losses are coming. During the Great Recession of 2008-2009, 8.7 million jobs were lost. It then took about 4 years for the economy to recover these jobs. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis estimated that our national unemployment rate could go to 32%. Unemployment hit 29% during the Great Depression. These are sobering numbers.
SIX FINANCIAL ACTION STEPS
Many economists and investors are hopeful the economic recovery will be much more rapid than the recent past would suggest. Whether they are correct or not, here are some defensive financial steps you can take now (if you haven’t already) to protect yourself should the recession deepen:
First, pay the tithe – Yes, these are uncertain times, but God, as the creator and ruler of all things, offers you a way to reduce uncertainty in your life: paying His tithe. Malachi 3:6-10 tells us:
“For I, the Lord, have not changed; therefore you, sons of Jacob, have not come to an end.
From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you say, ‘How will we return?’ Would a person rob God? Yet you are robbing me.
But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’
In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “if I do not open to you the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on you, until there is no more room for it all.”
Here, God says “Test me!” This fact alone reinforces the certainty of blessings that arise from the promise of verse 10.
As you probably already know, you can now tithe online through our Midway website and with automatic deductions if you want. I have personally set up automatic payments to correspond with my bi-weekly paycheck deposits. It is a joyful thing, and I recommend you take advantage of it!
Think about the areas of uncertainty in your life. Small business owners probably know more about uncertainty than most of us. They risk their savings and energy and credit to open a business in hopes that it will be successful. They plan to the best of their ability, but there are many factors beyond their control. And so it is in the life of those of us employed by corporations and small businesses. Even if we do our best work possible, there are factors that we simply can’t control. Our livelihoods depend on so much beyond our influence.
But all of these out-of-reach factors are in God’s hands.
God’s mandatory tithe is still binding. Jesus’s priesthood, which is after the order of Melchizedek, is based on the fundamental principle that the lower priest tithes to the higher priest—re-read the Epistle to the Hebrews, particularly chapters 6 through 8. Just as Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek, as royal priests in God’s kingdom we owe Christ a tenth of our increase. God’s covenantal sanctions are still binding in history. He brings blessings or curses, depending on whether we obey His laws and commandments or whether we disobey them. Christians who don’t tithe are robbing God (Malachi 3:8), and so they are under a curse in the same way that a loving father brings tough discipline to a constantly disobedient child.
So the first thing you should do to prepare your household budget for hard times is to pay God his tithe. You may find that strange opportunities and strokes of good fortune find you when you need them most. When they do, you can be confident that they came from God. Tithing brings no guarantee of great wealth or immediate reward, but it does come with the promise of great blessings. Tithing will strengthen your faith and teach you to rely more heavily on the Lord than ever before. Tithing will force you to tighten your belt and learn to live on less, which is something all of us probably need to do.
Just don’t stop tithing once the hard times improve.
To read more about God’s binding covenantal sanctions and the tithe in the New Covenant, I recommend starting with the following link to read an article written by a member of our congregation who has devoted his life to studying God’s word. You may be edified:
Second, calculate how many months of expenses you have in savings – This is your safety number. If you know your monthly expenses, then you can determine how many months you can go without a job before you are penniless. The more months in savings, the better and more secure you will feel. If you lose your job, you will have options because you will have time. When you have time, savings, and options, you are less likely to panic or depend upon a bail-out.
Third, prepare or update your household budget – If you don’t already have one, now is the time to construct a budget. You must do this to determine how long you can go without any income. Find out how much of your income goes to basic categories like utilities, mortgage or rent, clothes, entertainment, and savings. This will also help you identify areas where you can cut back. Free online programs like Mint.com make this easy by synching to your bank account and automatically downloading every transaction.
Fourth, cut back on your spending – In times like this, it is best to trim. Postpone non-critical expenses that you have been planning. The lower your monthly expenses, the longer your savings will last. To increase your savings, you need to find areas of your budget to reduce. You may have already started doing this. For example, many of us are already saving because we aren’t driving as much, so we aren’t buying gasoline. Look for other ways to cut back, at least temporarily. Every bit of money you don’t spend is money you can save.
Fifth, reduce retirement contributions – If you are working, one thing you can do to increase your savings is to temporarily freeze retirement contributions. The stock market is volatile right now. It is not easy to access money in a retirement account because you have to pay early withdrawal penalties or take loans against your account that you must repay. If you never send the money to the account, you don’t worry about future penalties. When times are uncertain, it is better to have a large store of immediately accessible cash reserves.
Sixth, freeze accelerated debt repayment plans – Continue making minimum debt payments. But if you are putting extra money to debts each month in an attempt to pay them off fast, then consider pulling back and putting that extra money in your savings account.
If you are eligible for a stimulus check, you may receive it soon. If you can afford to, it may be a good idea to use it to boost your savings, at least in the near term.
If you need any help doing any of this, then please contact me (John Livingston) and the Mercy Committee and we will help you. Send an email to email@example.com.
Technology (Patrick Rockholz)
God’s timing is perfect. This has certainly been seen in three areas while we are living in these interesting times.
1) With our website being completely redesigned, we have been able to get announcements and updates out more quickly and easily to help our congregation find churchwide information. We have posted our COVID-19 resources, Pastoral and Diaconal newsletters, as well as a growing section of External Resources to serve as a one-stop place to find great content.
2) Online giving was established about a month ago and seems to be working well for many while we wait for the sanctuary doors to reopen. Thank you for using this method for tithes and offerings and please let us know if there are any questions or suggestions!
3) Between our Webex conferencing and other collaboration technologies, we have been able to hold prayer groups Sunday and Wednesday nights as well as video meetings and recordings of Trail Life on Friday evenings. While I cannot wait to fellowship in person again, God has been good to give us the means to connect “virtually” in the meantime.
As always, please feel free to reach out if anyone needs assistance in navigating our Midway digital landscape!
Facility Use (Jimmy Cooper)
While we find ourselves in somewhat of a holding pattern for immediate use of Midway’s facilities at the time of this publication, we trust that this state is temporary and things will at some point return to normal. So, we invite all to consider Midway for tentative plans in the coming months.
The fellowship hall serves as a great location to indeed “fellowship” with family, friends and community not just on Sundays or Wednesday evenings, but any day of the week when our time can be spent with the body of Christ for God’s Glory. Please contact Jimmy Cooper for questions or specific requests at 636-236-4214 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mercy Update (Evanda Remington)
Mercy has addressed 12 cases in Q1 2020 – a strong initial pace. The Mercy Committee has been increasingly busy in the last two years, and we are grateful for the continued partnership with WIC in caring for women and children in need. While we’ve kept up with existing relationships, through the COVID-19 isolation measures the influx of new requests has dramatically slowed.
God has graciously provided for those within our congregation and the grocery delivery offers from the diaconate and staff have not been greatly needed. With the macroeconomic difficulty imposed by the pandemic we await to see who will turn to the church for aid, and pray that we can and will continue to represent our great God’s compassion and love to a world in need of mercy.
Midway Covenant Christian School (Phil Schrock)
Kudos to the leadership and staff at MCCS! They rose to the occasion to put together an online distance learning program for 300 students in response to the social distancing policies adopted to slow the coronavirus. The students and staff are faced with the same challenges as many of us and are carrying their schooling remotely till further notice.
Building and Grounds (Joe Hash)
The Building & Grounds passed our annual Fire Marshall Inspection–ALL 142 emergency lights and exit signs were inspected, and repaired or replaced if needed.
George Taylor keeps our buildings and grounds in top-top shape. He has:
- Installed new wrought iron fence around the gas meter in the playground area of the school, and he also relocated the chain link fence around the new 1987 Sanctuary HVAC unit.
- Helped with our new Mercy Ministry closet.
- Installed 4 new dusk/dawn LED spotlights on the playground.
- Tidied up the Midway signs out in front of our buildings so they look their best.
Also, we want to extend a special Thank You! to Deacon Greg Kistner for re-purposing some unused wood into shelves in the Children’s Ministry Storage Room. Greg has also helped George fix some roof leaks and replace damaged ceiling tiles.
Missions (Phil Schrock)
While we were disappointed at having to cancel this year’s Missions Conference, which was scheduled for March 20-22, we were able to welcome the Reverend Jean Paul from Haiti to our pulpit who preached an important and timely message via the online stream.
Your Missions Committee continues to labor hard despite the recent setbacks. Committee member Ed Knox just returned from a trip to Yangon, Myanmar where he accompanied Dr Wayne Curles as they taught a group of pastors on the book of Romans. We still have two summer missions trips slated for Peru this summer; however, in light of the recent quarantine they may be under further review.
Midway continues to support missions needs throughout the Earth. When you return to the church facilities in the future, check the video monitor and missions table just beyond the fellowship hall for more information. Once this pandemic ends, I encourage those of you who are interested in being a part of our missions prayer group to join us Sunday evenings beginning at 5:15 pm in the fellowship hall. For more information contact Becky Blades or Phil Schrock.
It is our tendency as fallen humans to wander away from God during the good times. This is one reason He sends us trials and tribulations: to bring us back to Him and to refine our faith.
The pandemic will pass. But in the meantime, let’s hunker down for the storm and get ready. If the storm doesn’t arrive, then we’ll be in really good shape when the sun comes out. But if it does hit, the church is here to help her members. This is what we do.
So first, make sure your treasure reflects your heart. Make sure your budget reflects your obedience to God by paying His tithe. Then, tidy up the rest of your financial house. Continue being a good witness to friends, family, and coworkers. Go the extra mile at work and provide the best service to your employer that you can.
After that, the rest is in God’s hands.
If you get in trouble, the church is here to help. Contact Evanda Remington and the Mercy Committee at email@example.com.
If we all take precautionary measures now, your money will go further, and the church’s money will go further. Consider your belt-tightening an act of love and charity towards a fellow member who has not been as fortunate as you. To quote the Apostle Paul, “put something aside and store it up as you are able.” Your abundance at the present time will supply what they need.
Deacon John Livingston, Editor