On Sunday, October 27, we began a month-long Generations focus throughout the church’s life.

What is Generations?
Generations calls us to two big ideas as we move toward 2020, the final year of our Vision 20/20 strategic plan. These are: (1) To ensure a sustainable Unified Budget that will fuel the annual missions and ministries of the church; and (2) A fully realized Pathways to Ministry Endowment that will fund the pastoral residency program in perpetuity without relying on church budget money or annual fundraising.

Is this a capital campaign by another name?
This is not a “capital campaign,” because we’re not seeking to build any new buildings. As you might expect from Wilshire, what we’re attempting to do is unique. We seek to combine an annual appeal for our basic budget along with a special appeal to over-and-above generosity for our Pathways to Ministry Endowment.

What is the most important thing you want me to do?
Our first and primary commitment is to regular, systematic generosity through the Unified Budget, the foundation of everything we do. We’ve got to do the basics well first, which is why we’re seeking to grow our giving to the Unified Budget by 10 percent over three years. This is the “Roots” of Generations. Once you’ve got that worked out, we invite you to make a special gift to the Pathways to Ministry Endowment Fund — either a one-time gift or a gift given regularly for up to three years.

Upcoming prayer focus opportunities: Nov. 10, Nov. 13. Anyone interested in learning more about Generations and joining a concerted prayer effort related to it is invited to join Pastoral Resident Jared Jaggers in McIver Chapel on Sunday, Nov. 10, from 9:40 to 10:40 a.m. Jared will explain the emphases of Generations and lead a guided prayer experience. The same information and prayer time will be offered on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 6 p.m.

The indoor tree. On Sunday, Oct. 27, construction began on a huge paper tree to be erected in the lower South Atrium. This tree will be a symbol of our Generations subtheme: Roots and Reach. Anyone interested in helping build the tree is invited to work with Jared Jaggers and Leigh Curl. Additional prayer and thanksgiving opportunities connected to the tree will be offered in the weeks ahead.

The outdoor tree. Soon after, a real live tree will be planted along the edge of the South Parking Lot, facing Abrams Road. The new Generations Tree will engage preschoolers, children and youth in digging the hole and preparing the soil beginning Sunday, Nov. 10, and running through Wednesday, Nov. 13. On that Wednesday, Nov. 13, a new 14-foot Bur Oak will be delivered and planted in the place prepared. This will be a long-lasting reminder of our commitments.

The Thanksgiving. The all-church phase of Generations will culminate on Sunday, Nov 24, with our annual Thanksgiving worship service and luncheon. At that service, all congregants will be asked to turn in Statement of Intent cards related to the 2020 Unified Budget and the Pathways Endowment.

George Mason’s Generations sermon series, Nov. 3, 10, 17, 24
We know, you’re probably thinking, “Four weeks of sermons on giving? Umm, I think I’m needed somewhere else on Sundays.” But take a look. These aren’t just sermons on giving your money. See you in worship.

Sunday, Nov. 3: Re-generational Church Psalm 145; 2 Timothy 1:1-7
The Baptist vision of church is that it is always regenerating, in contrast to the Reformed tradition that says the church is always reforming or the Church of Christ tradition that says the church is always restoring the New Testament church. Every generation is a fresh expression of the faith of previous generations. Like Timothy, whose faith bears the semblance of that of his mother and grandmother, our church bears the marks of our forebears. If we are to continue to pass faith from generation to generation, we will have to be courageous and self-disciplined in our time. This will involve a commitment like that of our forebears to service and stewardship.

Sunday, Nov. 10: Generative Roots Psalm 1; Ephesians 3:14-21
The church is like a tree planted by living waters, to borrow an image of the psalmist. It is rooted and grounded in love, as Paul says. The day by day, week by week, season by season attention to nurturing and caring for the soil and the growing deep healthy roots makes a tree grow strong and tall. Similarly, faithful attention to cultivating the spiritual and financial wellbeing of the church makes it grow strong to the glory of God. The Unified Budget is the vehicle for giving that allows all the ministries of the church to flourish. Starve it, and the church withers; feed it, and it thrives.

Sunday, Nov. 17: Generating Reach Isaiah 55:10-13; Luke 10:1-9
The Old Testament image of the blossoming creation from the generative word of God urges us to see the church’s mission as spreading the gospel for the sake of a bounteous harvest. Jesus sends out 70, two by two, as mission agents of the kingdom of God. They are to bring peace, heal the sick and stay among the people. Similarly, Wilshire sends out young, well-trained ministers to towns and cities across the country with words of peace and healing. The church’s generative reach grows from its commitment to preparing and sending pastors to other places with the DNA of the sending church.

Sunday, Nov. 24: A Generous Church  Proverbs 3:5-10; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Generosity grows from trust in God’s goodness and the promise of God to provide abundantly for all our needs if we share in the same generous work. Paul’s call to the church in Corinth to excel in generosity as they do in everything else is still God’s call to the church. Wilshire prides itself on being a strong model of faith, knowledge and courage. We must become a model of generosity, or the growth of the church will be dwarfed by lack of financial nourishment.