I grew up in a church with more than 100 years of history. Close to 150 years ago, Methodists in a neighboring town saw the need for a Methodist presence in the tiny village of Kane, PA. They sent resources, people, and even a pastor to the emerging community to ensure that the residents could know and grow closer to God. I realize that it is because of those men and women who lived in the 1860s that I call myself a United Methodist, and that ultimately I am a Christian.
The church in which I currently worship will celebrate it's 6 month anniversary in summer 2010. I work with a United Methodist student ministry in L'viv, Ukraine and in January of this year the long-time goal of planting a multi-generational church finally became a reality. Our average worship, 3 months after the first service was held, is 12 people. There is plenty of room for growth - like the tortoise says, "slow and steady wins the race."
This church represents to me, exactly what The 400 Fund is all about. The 400 fund is an attempt to fund the planting of 400 new United Methodist Congregations in 4 years outside of the United States.
A few months ago, at a time in my life when I was living on a very small cost of living stipend, I made a goal of giving $1 to each of these 400 churches. I was inspired by Mary Watson, a Georgia business woman who gave $1,000 for each of the new churches. At the time, $400 was more than half of my monthly stipend, but I came to the realization that for the thousands of people around the world who would become Christians through the planting of United Methodist churches my small gift could be life changing. I was thrilled when I met my goal and sent in my check.
I'm challenging you to support The 400 Fund. Set a personal goal, encourage your children to set a goal(one dime for each church is $40 - about what your child might pay for a new video game) get your Sunday School class involved, make an announcment at church, have a yard sale, do a fundraiser, or do whatever God puts on your heart. In 4 years we can plant 400 new congregations - and with that momentum, who knows how many we can plant in the years after. United Methodist can drop a check in their weekly offering plate made out to their home church with "Advance#400400" on the memo line or anyone can give on-line at GBGM's secure site for The Advance.