I’ve run enough marathons to know… the middle miles are always the hardest. In a 26.2 mile race, the first six miles are always exciting. Adrenalin is flowing, muscles are awakening and the excitement of the crowd is compelling. When there are only six miles remaining in the race, my mind and body embrace a wondrous mix of relief and excitement. I’m able to pick up the pace and finish strong. But the middle miles – the fourteen long miles in between – are the hardest. I have to intentionally set a pace, avoid the inevitable mental and physical distractions and will myself to keep going.

I’ve noted this same pattern in the financial life of the church. We typically begin the year at a high level of generosity. This year has been no different. I am grateful, and I am certain God is pleased. We end the year with an excited surge toward the fiscal finish line. Our generous ‘end-of-the-year gifts’ are a testimony of God’s blessings in our lives and our deep love for God, but it’s the middle months that are the hardest.

Many churches take a hard dip during summer with regard to tithes and offerings. Our dip tends to be slight… but inevitable. Many of us travel during these months, spend money on a wide array of recreational activities and purposefully find some crack or crevice of calm in which to rest. These are all good things; they are part of life’s middle miles. It is important, however, to intentionally maintain our care for God’s church and God’s world while caring for our self.

Here are two suggestions for the ‘middle miles’ of summer. If your gifts to the church are not automatically drafted, mark the dates on your summer calendar for making gifts to the church. The erratic schedule of the season often makes it hard to remember to give your gifts. Second, make a gift to our Local Relief Account today. This account supports the work of United Ministries and provides resources to local persons in crisis. Let this gift be over and above your regular offerings to the church.

The middle miles always demand some intentionality…a little extra focus. This summer, rest your body… rest your mind…and remember your church. We want to run the race well that God has set before us…every month of the year.

— Jim