I was in shock to see it and even more in shocked to watch it as the lines started forming on Thanksgiving afternoon all over the country. People
stood in line to get into stores to purchase "doorbuster" specials, receive special incentives, and fill their buggies full of stuff they didn't even need. I know this because my family first had spent over $200 after walking into a store on Black Friday saying we really didn't need anything. Get this fact: Total Shopper spending for the
weekend of Black Friday reached an estimated $59.1 billion, which is a 13%
increase from a year ago! Online shopping (my favorite kind of shopping) eclipsed over 1 Billion dollars in sales and increased by 21% over the
weekend from 2011 sales. This represents astronomical numbers especially for us to be in the worse economy in 50+ years. The National Retail Federation is predicting that sales this holiday
season will rise 4.1% from 2011 sales. If the estimate is correct,
holiday sales this year would be $586.1 billion. Most of that money
will be on wasted stuff that makes no difference. How many of your Christmas gifts are you still
using from last year? Most of it is nothing more than wasted dollars being spent on things that are temporary rather than being invested in things that are eternal! Consider that the average financial gift to a church in the United States in a
whole calendar year is only $200.
Let's make this practical. What does it show for us? I cannot speak for all churches, but I have spoken to pastors all over my area and what we are seeing in the stores is not being duplicated in our churches. What I saw on Thanksgiving weekend was that church pews were not filled, no one stood in
line even at a water fountain, and giving at most churches is much more likely in the red than in the black.
The question to ask is this: Where are our priorities? A financial gift of tithes and offerings through our church means real ministry is taking place in people's lives in the church, in our community, and throughout the world. This is a financial investment that reaps huge spiritual benefits, not only in your life, but in the lives of people who are receiving this ministry. Churches all over Eastern Arkansas, including my own church, are now having to meet and make hard decisions related to what ministries can continue and which ones simply cannot be funded. While retailers are in the black, God's work is in the red. I know...I know..."Just trust God to provide pastor." I agree...God has provided! He has provided His people with jobs and a Bible filled with commands about good stewardship. We must only be faithful to the task of stewardship.
The end of the fiscal year is coming and now is the time to get caught up! Make your giving count this year for God's glory and not for the temporary pleasure of a gift which no one will remember giving or receiving a year from now!