This is a guest post from City Square Church member Jme Willey. Jme and her family attend the Saturday family small group.
My husband and I are “church people,” born into families with 2 Christian parents, raised in the church, attended a “serious” Christian college, married in the church, and have “religiously” attended church as a couple. We both have testimonies we can share with you sometime. We’ve loved the churches we’ve been a part of, but….
We felt alone – as young adults in the midst of middle aged and older adults. We struggled to find a sense of community among people who were serious about following God (or at least trying to!) in their personal lives and as a faith community for an extended period of time. We found institutions more concerned with maintaining the institution than faithfulness to God’s leading.
Then we had lunch with Rob one Monday in September and took the plunge to explore what City Square really was. At our first small group gathering, we found young people who had experiences both similar and different from ours but who were seeking God and seeking community. My husband’s first Tuesday night, happy hour, experience helped him find communion. And over the past three months, we’ve had the chance to explore what it means to practice faith together both practically and intellectually with our small group. In our marriage, we’ve found more opportunities to talk about our faith as we’ve had a chance to be part of a small group together. As a family, we’ve found a movement that blesses both us and our children.
As a child, I learned a simple song at church. The lyrics I recall go:We love, because God first loved us.
We love, Because – God – First – Loved – Us.
Our small group has been reading The Awakening of Hope this fall; it explores why Christian faith communities have some of the odd practices they do. (Other than for a medical reason, do you know anyone who fasts besides a very religious person? It is a little strange, don’t you think?) One practice that isn’t covered in the book is the practice of tithing. Tithing (according to Merriam-Webster) is “to pay or give a tenth part of, especially for the support of the church.” And as followers of Christ, we do this as an act of love with the firstfruits of our labor. And, we tithe as an act of commitment to and dependence on God. We do this, as the song says, because God first loved us.
When it comes to tithing, I’m lucky because I started very early, as it was a requirement in my house…My earliest memory about tithing was from when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I wanted a raise in my allowance, and since we tithed on our allowances I wanted it raised to $1.10 so that I would still have a dollar to spend on other things! (And yes I now know that wouldn’t have been a true tithe…but it was still fairly good young elementary math!) Already tithing had become so much a part of my financial practices, that it was simply an automatic response to think about that first 10% as what I gave back to God. As I grew up, I continued the spiritual discipline of tithing—on allowances, babysitting jobs, part-time jobs in high school and college, and then as a grown-up.
Tithing is something I’ve never felt resentful about, it’s something I do cheerfully and willingly knowing that God asks me to do it. I know all that I have is God’s in the first place, so giving 10% back is really a fairly small offering to make.
We still aren’t sure how God might be leading City Square into the future, but we are excited to see how the Spirit leads our new faith family forward. We are thrilled to be a part of a movement focused on faithfulness to God but not restricted by the encumbrances of a large institution and bulky “possessions”. As we become more involved in the movement, we find ourselves not only wanting to attend City Square functions, but wanting to share our talents and our financial gifts too. God has blessed us with City Square and we want to thank God for this exciting new movement.
If you feel led to make a financial pledge to City Square Church in 2013, we invite you to fill out this form.