A Generous ChristmasJune 8, 2016 General Essays
The Advent and Christmas season is a time of reflection, worship and gratitude here at Jacob’s Well. It is also a time of generosity and teaching the next generation the truth that Jesus taught us “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Over the last several years we have engaged in intentional generosity as a community during the holiday season. In the month of December we will be walking together to make this A Generous Christmas once again.
In the book of Acts, as Jesus instructs his disciples of where their ministry will take place, he says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 2:8). It is with that in mind, in the 2015 Advent Season we will lead our community in a joyful response to God’s generosity and continue the mission of Jesus locally, regionally and globally.
The elders of Jacob’s Well have decided to provide the resources we raise to be generously given to the following four areas as we continue our fourth year of A Generous Christmas as we live out our core identify of Joy and Generosity in Mission. Our hope is that A Generous Christmas calls us to generosity towards others in the holiday season and serves as an opportunity to teach to our families what Jesus taught “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
At Jacob’s Well, we find joy in sharing with members of our church community as well as those in our local community. We do this through what we call our Kindness and Generosity Fund. This year, we’ve had the opportunity to help some of our members “keep the lights on” as well as come along side some of our neighbors to pay rents, secure deposits for housing and pay unexpected bills when in crisis. This fund allows us to continue to serve and minister to our members and community in this vital way and your gift will help replenish these resources.
We have always had a heart and eye for training leaders in the local church. Our regional focus for A Generous Christmas this year provides two opportunities for us to help in the training and sending of local church leaders.
Jon Sgalambro and his wife Deanna, are members of Jacob’s Well and the Fords’ Missional Community. Jon has preached and led the music at Jacob’s Well over the last several years. He has a passion for the Word of God and pastoral ministry. He is looking to get trained for future ministry in two ways. First, by going to seminary for biblical and theological training. Second, he is looking to transition from his work as a teacher into a two year training residency at Jacob’s Well. As we continue to train and grow future church leaders, we will be providing a portion of our Generous Christmas offering to the Sgalambros.
Many of the men of Jacob’s Well met Charlie Mitchell at our Men’s Retreat in November. Charlie is a church planting resident at Epiphany Fellowship Camden and he and his wife will be planting in the Baltimore area in the next couple of years. To support our vision for the continued growth of Jesus’ church in our region, we’ve chosen to give a portion of our gift to Charlie and his family and their efforts in urban church planting.
One of the biggest issues in the world at the moment is the growing crisis regarding Syrian refugees. We see this as an opportunity for Jacob’s Well to have a global impact by partnering with an organization to relieve some of these refugees and provide for their needs. A portion of our gifts from A Generous Christmas will be given to elder-approved organization serving refugees from the Syrian civil war and ongoing crisis.
December 6, 13—We will be handing out gift bags to everyone which will contain the above descriptions as well as some fun items for kids.
December 20, 24, 27—We will take our Generous Christmas offering together during the final weeks of the years will the funds being designated to serve these areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s with the gift bags?
One of the convictions we have a Jacob’s Well is that parents learn to equip and teach their children in the faith. We give you gift bags to help you teach and engage your crew around the topic of generosity. Plus, balloons, tattoos and crafts and candies are fun for all. So whether you have kids or not, grab a goody bag as an aid to think about generosity this season.
What about year end giving?
Some have asked whether or not they should give to A Generous Christmas or give a year end gift to the church and our general operating fund. Like most non-profits, giving in the month of December helps us immensely so if the Lord leads, a year end gift to Jacob’s Well is appreciated and needed. However, if you feel you need to make a choice, please choose to give towards A Generous Christmas as this will go to serve others. If you can do both, by all means enjoy the grace of giving.
Why don’t we just do this sort of thing from the normal budget?
First of all, we do. We give locally, globally and to church planting. Second, a special offering during the holiday season gives us unique teaching opportunities to the church and allows us to live a different narrative during the Christmas season. We want to choose generosity as a part of our “holiday spending” so that we see giving and receiving as part of life as a follower of Jesus.