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by Blake Davidson

´┐╝Though increased resources are exciting, what happened in our people was far greater. From 2002 to 2007, our congregation had grown to over a hundred people; we went from being an assisted assembly receiving subsidies to becoming a generous need-meeting church.
There is a clear marker dividing the first fifteen years of my pastoral ministry from the last eight. In the first 15 years, while busy planting a church, I viewed world missions giving as a compassionate gesture reserved for the moment when all the needs in my own church and ministry had been met. I suspect I thought like many pastors and congregations; but in the past nine years, I have come to view giving to missions as the single greatest thing a local church can do to help itself grow.

In 2002, everything changed. The change came in one hour, in one place, under the influence of a single sermon. I was between pastorates and had the opportunity to attend our PAOC General Conference in Victoria, British Columbia. The speaker was Jack Hanes, the pastor of the “other” church in Australia, and the single sermon was entitled If I Were the Devil. That day I heard my whole myopic, self-absorbed approach to ministry described, and I was challenged to go into my new church, consisting of 25 people, with a phrase burned into my soul by the Holy Spirit: “Give away your money … and God will give you other people’s money.”

Shortly after I arrived at the two-year-old fledgling church in Dundas, Ontario, I began to challenge our people with this radical new idea. We were a church supported by a partnership of seven others. We needed money ourselves, but we started to sacrifice and give. In 2001, the previous year, Christian Life Assembly in Dundas gave a total of $683 to world missions and had a total budget of $63,000. The very next year, we gave $7,000 to missions and our budget reached
$110, 000.

We began sending anyone from our church who wanted to go on a short-term mission trip. Our church had less than fifty people and we couldn’t organize our own short-term mission trips, so we piggybacked on other churches and organizations until we had sent nearly 30 different people on 11 different mission trips in just five years. Each of them came home committed to living on a little less in order to give a little more.

Our leadership radically committed to giving away one Sunday morning’s offering each month—we had only a Sunday morning service—forcing our church family to operate on three offerings per month. Our whole congregation got excited about what God was doing through us in Honduras, Guatemala, Kenya, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, Japan, India, Ireland, Poland, and our Canadian First Nations. In 2006, four years after we radically started to give to world missions, Christian Life Assembly gave $37,000 to missions—in one year. That same year we had still faithfully tithed over $18, 000 to the Western Ontario District and our yearly budget had grown to $227,000.

Though increased resources are exciting, what happened in our people was far greater. From 2002 to 2007, our congregation had grown to over a hundred people; we went from being an assisted assembly receiving subsidies to becoming a generous need-meeting church. Twenty-six people had given their lives to Christ and we had baptized 16 of them. Our youth group went from four to over 20 students, and we’d gone through three building renovations and paid back over $20,000 of loans, all while reducing our mortgage by ten per cent.

Because we were doing ministry at home in Dundas but affecting Christ’s kingdom all over the world, we began to attract professional people, doctors, engineers, professors and business people to become part of our congregation. We discovered that people want to be part of a church that’s changing the world. This “whole world” vision—that raised leaders and built churches, hospitals and orphanages—excited people in our community. When my mechanic, a person not saved or going to my church, heard what we were doing, he asked if he could help out. He gave our church $1,000 on two different occasions.

In four short years, no one was able to think of our little church in our little town in quite the same way. This small-town church was not insignificant—we mattered to the kingdom. We were changing our community and affecting the world. People began to buy three-year-old cars instead of new ones; they put off buying things they didn’t need; there was a new emphasis on getting out of personal debt; and refusing to take on the world’s materialistic nature, for us, became a badge of honour. Through it all , this missions giving principle became to me a leadership hill on which I am willing to die.

What I learned in Dundas, I took with me when I began pastoring in Sudbury in 2007. In two years, God doubled our missions giving and our attendance. The church that sacrifices to give as much as it can to missions refuses to be petty and inward focused; it looks at the big picture and becomes a faith-filled, kingdom-thinking force that shapes its community and transforms the world. I only wish someone had convinced me of this reality 15 years earlier.
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BLAKE DAVIDSON, Blake Davidson lives with his wife, Christine, and three of his four children in Sudbury,ON. They attend New Sudbury Pentecostal Church, where Blake pastored before agreeing to serve as northern regional director for the Western Ontario District in November 2009.
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