Christmas Eve Offering

Almost four decades of Christmas Eve offerings...

In 1986, our founding pastor, Steve Almquist, had the idea of taking a Christmas Eve offering and giving it all away to missions.

After all, Steve would always remind us: Christmas, It's Not About Us. It's about God's love for the world and the work of Jesus, not just in us but through us.

Steve tied this in to the great promise God gave to Abraham. 

I will bless you and you will be a blessing to the nations!

That core belief has been a part of Living Word from the beginning. We are blessed. Who are we that  God would bless us the way he has?

That question leads to humility, gratitude, and then GENEROSITY.

That is at the heart of our Christmas Eve offering.

Through the decades we have now raised...


To God be the glory for his SPIRIT of generosity that has hovered over our congregation.

As we have been faithful in small things, God knew we could be trusted and he provided even more blessing--and we continued to give it away.

The very first year we did this, we raised $5,000. We used that money to buy a light for surgical operations for the Bethel Hospital in Salem, India (for many years we took teams to Bethel).

It turned out that God used that light in a miraculous way. During one serious surgery, all the power in the hospital went out--EXCEPT FOR THAT LIGHT! And they were able to continue with the operation!
And that is a beautiful spiritual lesson for us about our Christmas Eve offering. Yes, we give this money for projects, programs, equipment, sometimes building projects, but we are actually giving money for PEOPLE. For it is people, their lives, their futures, their destinies, that are touched by our missional friends using the Christmas Eve offering.

It is not an exaggeration to say that hundreds of thousands of lives have been touched over the decades as our partners have used the Christmas Eve offering gifts to do work they could not have done without YOUR generosity.

How do we determine how much money to raise and who to give this money to?

There are several core values and priorities that have guided us over the decades. We have also discerned new values as time has gone on.

FIRST: Give away every dollar. Don't keep anything. No administrative charge of any kind. Just give it all away.

SECOND: Give it all away to our friends and partners doing God's MISSIONAL work. Living Word has been involved in global missions from the beginning of our church. We worked hard to find really good international partners with whom we could work. When we found those partners, we really committed ourselves to helping them grow and be fruitful.

We have a Global Missions Fund that many people contribute to--weekly, monthly, or even yearly. Our Global Missions Fund primarily supports these partners. Many of them are missionaries from the United States, but many are also internationals who were/are doing great ministry. The Global Missions Fund supports their salaries as they serve around the world.

But they also need resources for projects and programs. We can support some of that from our Global Missions Fund, but over the years our Christmas Eve offering has been an enormous part of helping our partners do good ministry.

THIRD: Make it a priority to help those who have the greatest needs. A large percentage of our offering helps people who struggle with basic needs--food, shelter, medicine, safety, and security. We have helped refugees, the homeless, those with mental health problems, and we have always made it a priority to help women and children, for they are often the most at risk. Jesus refers to this group of people as the least of these. Not meaning they are unimportant to Jesus, but they are considered unimportant in the eyes of the world.

FOURTH: Get funds to those ministries that are HOLISTIC in how they work. That means we work with partners who preach, teach the Bible, evangelize, make disciples, train leaders, AND serve the poor, providing for the basic needs of those who are hungry, thirsty, and sick. They often do a great deal of work with the next generation. We call it the FULL GOSPEL.

Global and local

Every year we discern where some of the greatest needs and opportunities are. Are they overseas or right in our own backyard? Are they around the world or right here in York?

It is never an either-or answer. Over the years we have steadily tried to serve our missional partners globally and locally. Some years we give more money for global needs, other years the local needs become the priority.

This year we believed we would donate two-thirds of the Christmas Eve offering for local ministries and one-third for global partners.

Go to our website for about one more week and you can see all the organizations and how much we gave toward their needs.

We have a Stewardship Team that connects with our missional partners during the late fall to find out what needs they have. We gather the needs and get the big picture.

This year we had requests for about half a million dollars. 
We have NEVER raised that much!

We do not want to overpromise and then underdeliver to our partners. So, we pray and look for a bottom line amount that we want to trust God for and then begin to communicate to our community that here are the opportunities and the people we would like to bless.

Our elders are part of that process. They are the leadership team that affirms and approves all funds and distributions.

Our tech team goes out and interviews partners, gets photos and videos, and we share the needs with you.

We pray and we wait to see what God will do!

I know this is how I often feel and pray. God, the needs are great, the economy has been challenging for many people. What can we do? But more so, what can you do through our people?

This year, I (Pastor Brian Rice) felt this more keenly than ever.

And Jesus once again said, "O ye (i.e., Brian) of little faith..."

I for one am very glad that my faith, whether little or much, is NOT the determining factor. God's generosity, love, and grace are the determining factor.

Then God goes to work on our hearts and we wait and see.

And year after year we REJOICE at the superabundance of God. And at your generosity.

Then we give it away, in the name of Jesus and the love of God's people at Living Word.

Money is still coming in, but this is the last communication for a while about our Christmas Eve offering. Throughout the year, we'll give you updates on how our missions partners are doing and what is happening through your generosity.

People of Living Word, I love you so much and am grateful to be among a generous people.

May the Lord continue to bless and keep us strong in his love.

Pastor Brian Rice