“Stewardship” has many meanings for us. When we were asked to write a short piece on giving, and why we give to the church, we began by thinking about the place that River Road Church has taken in our lives. We were married in the Chapel a little over two years ago, having joined the church six months or so earlier, and since then we’ve made a tradition of spending just a little time together in the Chapel on each anniversary. Since joining, our life together has been very much intertwined with our church life. We first visited because I’d been told that Tom Graves taught a Sunday School class, and I had taken several courses with him at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR). After the worship service that day, we were inspired, and began to think of River Road as a place we could call home.
To say that we have been warmly welcomed is an understatement. The “thoughtful faith” that we have found here has been something that has inspired and encouraged us, leading us closer to God, more so than any other church that either of us has ever attended. I’ve been privileged to serve on church boards and committees, which has been a wonderful experience. If you haven’t seen a detailed budget report which lists, line by line, the programs, missions, activities, and causes of the church – all of the ways in which our money is spent – then you really should see it. You will be astonished at all that we do as a congregation, and a lot would be sorely missed if we weren’t doing them.
But numbers only serve as a beginning to the story. How can one put a money value on deeply inspiring worship services with the meaningful liturgy, magnificent music, and powerful sermons that are ours every Sunday morning? One would seriously undervalue our men’s group The Huddle, which has meant so much to the participants, but the cost of which is basically a pot of coffee every Wednesday. How can one assign a value in dollars to the mission trips that are shared by youth and adults? I have an idea as to the costs of the Maine Mission Tour, from which we returned a few weeks ago, but the joys of working, getting to know the terrific young people that are among us, and becoming convinced of the reality of participating in God’s work in service of people who may never know us, provided us all, I think, with the kind of treasure that is stored up in heaven. These are just a few of the many ways that I’ve seen our church touch people here and beyond River and Ridge.
Those things do cost money. Growing them costs money. But having experienced just some of them, we notice that our decisions about giving have been made easier by having stories and experiences, friendships, and spiritual growth, that gives cold numbers new significance in thinking about the role of our church in our lives. In giving, as well as in participating, we are involved in something bigger than the sum of all of us, an individual and corporate response to the unending goodness of God.
This series is designed to give RRCB members an opportunity to reflect upon their own generosity to God. In reading their stories, we pray that your own life of generosity is encouraged and challenged as well.