“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  I used to think my Mom made that up to make me share my stuff with my siblings and friends, but lo and behold, Jesus actually said it (Acts 20:35). Mom is gone now, but the longer I pastor, the more thankful I am she poured those words into me.  Hope Chapel, where I pastor, experiences that truth every time it “gives” in the form of mission. 

Hope is 15 years old and was begun with a heart to give itself away. That has taken various forms. Money, for one. I fight being prideful over the fact that we have already given almost $1,000,000 to missions through our budget. Some might say we are bit crazy since we still owe more than $600,000 on our mortgage, but I see the blessing in our unusually high rate of per capita giving. We have also “adopted” a network of 60+ churches in Rwanda, training their Pastors annually for the last 8 years, providing school scholarships, micro-loans and even goats! We have sent others to South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Poland, China and places we can’t even name. We’ve done construction projects in Wisconsin, Ohio (twice) and Pennsylvania. What we get back is priceless, changed lives. Those lives create a great church.

But the sweetest blessings come when we “give” locally. We have been privileged to partner with three “new” churches: the Brazilian Church in Leominster, the re-start of Pleasant Street Baptist in Worcester and our direct church plant there, The Church on Seven Hills. We have supported them financially, sponsored a pastor for a Green Card, collected coats for a giveaway, provided volunteers, resourced and staffed a monthly meal for years and more.  We have encouraged their men’s, women’s and youth ministries by inviting them in or taking them with us as we participate in various opportunities like retreats, CrossWalk and YEC. We also strapped on our carpenter belts as we assisted Western Mountains in Kingfield, ME; Nashua Baptist in NH; and Seven Hills in Worcester with construction projects.

I sense a special blessedness flowing from these local connections.  For one, it’s friendships. God has always used the medium of relationships to pour out His greatest blessings, and Hope experiences that through these all the time. Also, you get to see God work in video tape rather than just snap shots. The one-and-done connections are fine, but it is especially gratifying to see God expand His Kingdom over the long haul, and 10+ year relationships afford just that. I find it to be especially encouraging when my own ministry is in a bit of a “valley” time. And being local means it’s always available, giving our people the on-going opportunity to live missionally. That keeps the blessings flowing!   

So, thanks again, Mom, for grinding this wonderful truth Christ into me.  I didn’t want to learn it then, but I’m grateful for it now.

Neal Davidson is the lead pastor of Hope Chapel in Sterling, Mass.