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     Sunday sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by Pastor Jody Beth Melton at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Oct. 29, 2017 | 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Giving and Serving
    Colossians 3:12–17 • 2 Corinthians 9:6–15

    Over five years ago, we studied the “Five Practices of Fruitful Living” here at Swift Church. There were Bible studies, books and pamphlets, and a devotional for the Lenten season. The materials were written by Robert Schnase. Many of you who were here at that time may remember studying the Five Practices.

    One of our talented church members made the banner off to my side as a reminder for all of us, and a way of sharing the practices with guests and new members. Banner:

    Radical hospitality
    Passionate worship
    Intentional faith development
    Risk-taking mission and service
    Extravagant generosity

    Over time, a new mission statement was decided upon:

    Swift Church strives to be a biblically based community bringing God joy. Through the Holy Spirit we seek to become and make disciples of Jesus Christ in order to:

    • welcome unconditionally
    • worship passionately
    • grow faithfully
    • serve boldly
    • and give extravagantly.

     † † † 

    TODAY I WILL BE SHARING WITH YOU just a few examples of how I believe Swift has been carrying out this mission statement. Some things have been shared in the Moment for Stewardship reports that we have had each Sunday this month. Some others you may already know about. And most everything I will mention is included in our super awesome website, maintained almost daily by a church volunteer. The web address is on the back page of the bulletin.

    Spoiler alert: This message is quite Swift-specific. If you are visiting today, welcome. Today’s message will give you a lot of information about the mission and ministry of the Swift Church family.

    If you have a church home, feel free to talk with me after worship and ask me about any of the things we do at Swift that you might like to bring back to your home church.

    If you don’t have a church that you call home at this time, I’m available to talk with you not only about Swift, but I could also give you some information about other great churches in this area.

    We have seven organized committees through our session at this time: missions, buildings and grounds, Christian education (one elder for adults, one for youth and one for children), worship, and finance. Together the elders, the pastors, the deacons, the staff and the congregation work toward fulfilling our mission.


    Presbyterian Home for Children
    Bike rides
    Work weekends
    Donations — month of December — HOPE board lighting up — ran out of lights, exceeding the goal set by the missions elders.
    Board members
    Santa Foundation — local organization — Donations collected the month of August with Christmas lights lighting up a tree or wreath for every $20 donation. We ran out of lights for this, too!
    Food pantry
    Congo missionaries
    UKirk meal for student ministr
    Two Cents a Meal — Living Waters for the World
    Pastors’ Discretionary Fund — Woman in tent
    Presbyterian offerings — three each year
    Water for Houston — one man, one truck; more than 12 men, 10 trucks

    Buildings and grounds

    Ongoing to-do list several times longer than our personal honey-do lists
    Work days
    Volunteers after hours
    Air-conditioning filters
    Managing pests from the ants that came marching in two by two into the kitchen, the squirrels and raccoons in the attic — and chapel — and the slithery snakes — they tell me all of these have been handled

    The flood! Not the flood of the Old Testament, but the flood of our fellowship hall kitchen.

    Christian education — children

    Sunday school
    Time with the children
    Children’s church
    Kids’ Club
    Fall Festival

    Christian education — youth

    • Sunday school
    • GΦG
    • Refuel
    • Montreat
    • Youth Sunday
    • Confirmation class
    • Fundraiser meals (for Montreat) — fish fry today


    Christian Ed — Adults

    • Two Sunday school classes
    • Sunday evening and Thursday morning Bible study groups
    • Two or More
    • Butterfly Girls/Guys’ Night Out


    Planning team works with pastors
    Sermon series
    Lent in a Bag
    Summer Take-Out Church (Flat Jesus)
    Blessing of Backpacks
    Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Easter
    Longest Night Service (GriefShare)
    Christmas Eve
    New Year’s First Meal (doing again this year, on Monday)
    Baptism/Lord’s Supper
    Their own to-do list
    Visitor bags for guests — including donations
    Look at your pew racks, attendance sheets
    Light bulbs and ceiling tiles — back to buildings and grounds — yes, they know….

    Worship leadership
    While looking up, projectionist and sound technicians
    Also, before Sunday morning, bulletin prepared, proofed, folded
    You may think of pastors, music director, pianist
    Also choirs — chancel, bells, tone chimes
    Greeters, acolytes, ushers, nursery, liturgist
    Money counters
    Elder of month helps count, and unlocks/locks/sets thermostats.

    Stuff that needs to be done, stuff that cost money, etc.

    • Newsletter
      Craft Club
      Place needs cleaning
      Commissioned lay pastor wants to be paid (session story)
      Copier out of toner
      Coffee and creamer
      Replace the candles, etc., etc.
      Toilet paper. Don’t think of, but sure would notice if not there. Someone put it on the roll, someone ordered it, and, the money for it had to come from someone.

    Mission statement again

    Swift Church strives to be a biblically based community bringing God joy. Through the Holy Spirit we seek to become and make disciples of Jesus Christ in order to:

    • welcome unconditionally
    • worship passionately
    • grow faithfully
    • serve boldly
    • and give extravagantly.

     † † † 

    ARE WE WELCOMING UNCONDITIONALLY, worshiping passionately, growing faithfully, serving boldly and giving extravagantly? Please note that I have given many examples, but not all. I suppose someone will come up to me after service and tell me that I didn’t mention a significant ministry. I apologize in advance. It was not my intention to include everything. For one, this church has so much going on, we would be here several more hours if I tried to include everything. And I couldn’t include everything if I wanted to, because you do so many things I don’t even know about! You are the kind of people I want to be around, to worship with, to study with, to serve with, to count on, and to be there for.

    This year has been an extraordinary year of need.

    You have gone above and beyond in the generous contributions of your time and talent. And your money. We do need money. You will hear more about this from Chuck Carneal during the moment for stewardship.

     † † † 

    ONE OF MY FAVORITE VERSES of today’s scripture is that of the cheerful giver.

    Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give,
    not reluctantly or under compulsion,
    for God loves a cheerful giver.

    Some have said that we ask for money for too many needs at Swift. I understand that concern. But I also know that we do not all need to donate to every cause there is. Samford Turner, former Executive Presbyter has always said that ‘no is just as Holy an answer as yes.’

    Then one day I was encouraged by a person in one of my Bible study groups. I was given an envelope earlier in the day with $50 cash in it. The person asked me to get it to the church member who was going to drive to Texas with water. This was as I was walking into the Bible study, and the situation in Texas was heavy on everyone’s heart. I told them about the envelope, and said that I wasn’t asking the group for contributions, but if anyone wanted to add to the envelope, I would get it to the right person.

    After the study, there was over $100 in the envelope, and one woman came to me to thank me for the opportunity to contribute in a way that she was sure it would get to people in need.

    I don’t know how much that one person gave, but I do know that she gave because she wanted to, not because she had to.

    I was encouraged, and I was reminded. We don’t have to give to every cause we hear about.

     † † † 

    WE ARE TO DECIDE IN OUR HEARTS about our giving — our hearts. Prayerfully, listening to our hearts. Listening to God.

    We are to feel good about giving.

    We are to be a cheerful giver.

    There have been many requests this year, and I’m not asking you to give to all of them.

    But I am asking you to be prayerful about a commitment to the budget of the church. To decide in your heart — that is, prayerfully listening to God, which will lead you to be able to commit freely, not reluctantly, which will lead you to a peace about your commitment. I want you to be cheerful.

    We are to give not because we have to, or because we think we are supposed to, or because feel pressured to. We give, as scripture says, as an expression of thanks to God.

     † † † 

    One last story for you. I share office space with the children’s ministry room in the annex. Last week, as I glanced up at a bulletin board that we share, I saw this note. It was written in an adult’s handwriting. It read:

    “The kids at children's church are thankful for helping and always giving to us. We are thankful for the snacks in fellowship. We appreciate you always teaching us about the Lord and always giving us attention. Especially the time with the children during the service. We are glad that we have you to teach us at Kids’ Club and Sunday school. You are always there to comfort us if we need it.”

    Church family,
    Does that not warm your heart to know that our children are thankful, appreciative, glad, and comforted here at Swift Church?

    We are feeding their bellies and their minds, and building a basis for lifelong faith.

    I took the liberty to write them back, on your behalf:

    Dear children,
    You are welcome. We love you.

    Your church family


    Jody Beth Melton        

    Colossians 3:12–17
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

    15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

    — This is the Word of the LORD.  

    2 Corinthians 9:6–15
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    Generosity Encouraged

    6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:

    “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
        their righteousness endures forever.

    10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

    12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

    — This is the Word of the LORD.  


    a.  2 Corinthians 9:9  Psalm 112:9

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    23208 Swift Church Road
    Foley, AL 36535
    Phone: (251) 943-8367