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Posts by: Dan Easley

A Testimony of Freedom

October 12, 2016

We are in the midst of a two-year generosity initiative called Moved by Jesus. Our primary goal during this initiative is for 100% of our church family to give in a surrendered, gospel-driven way. During these two years, we are sharing stories of transformation that have come out of our church family's commitment to giving generously for the sake of of the kingdom. Below is a story from one of our congregants, who requested to be kept anonymous.



When I was growing up I remember discussions in my home about giving to the church.  Back then, my dad enjoyed giving about as much as paying taxes.  He would cringe when he would discuss how “they” burdened the parishioners with the expectation to give.  He would say things like, “Now they need money for the roof?  That building isn’t even that old!  And I suppose the priest needs more money for his vacation fund.  Didn’t he take a vow of poverty?”  It was clear to me that giving was a duty forced upon members of the church for frivolous ornamentation and comforts and that refusing to give would result in shame and guilt.

Although I grew up in the church, I didn't became a Christian until my early 20s. When I began attending a different church, I heard a much different message.  I read in the Scriptures about the joy and blessing that giving brings to the heart of the believer.  However, this church taught giving a tithe - 10% -  which was more than double the percentage I heard as a child.  There was NO WAY I could ever be willing or able to give 10% of my gross pay to the church.  Early in my journey, some friends of mine lovingly but strongly encouraged me to get to the 10% giving goal.  After some soul searching, I managed to get to that number because I felt it was a matter of obedience.

Over the years, I’ve seen God bless me in many ways - including financially.  I often attribute those blessings to my obedience in the area of giving.  I also saw myself as a steward of God’s money to do good things in the world, and I have been privileged to see people benefit by my generosity.  It has felt good to give.  However, I had always given out of my abundance.  I could never understand the people who felt the need to give sacrificially and really make it hurt.  I would say to myself, “Well, it’s time for other people to step up and do their part.  I’m giving enough.”

 When the Moved by Jesus initiative began in 2015, I was approached by the Generosity Pastor, Dan Easley, who wanted to meet with me to discuss the Church’s planned renovations and projects.  In our first meeting, Dan challenged me to give in a way that changes me.  It didn't have anything to do with 10%. During that meeting, I thought about a message Bishop Stewart delivers from the pulpit, “Give in a worldly irresponsible way for the Kingdom.”  After that first meeting, I still wasn’t planning on giving more extravagantly than I had in the past.  After all, I had my heart set on buying something I’ve wanted since childhood that was very meaningful for me.  I also intended to increase my IRA contributions in the hope of retiring early.  

Then, I heard a sermon by Katherine Ruch one evening that further changed my thinking.  What I heard the Lord say through her was, “Giving is not about a project.  It has nothing to do with what the money is going toward.  Giving is about FREEDOM – freedom from all the worry and anxiety that money causes us.”  One year ago, on the day before the church was set to hand in our Commitment Cards for Moved by Jesus, I was praying in All Saints Chapel and heard the Lord tell me, “Everything you have is a gift from me.  Don’t worry about that thing you have your heart set on or about retiring early.  Just get out of the boat and give it all.  I will take care of you no matter what.”  I threw up my hands and conceded.  I said, “Well, Lord, here goes nothing!  I pray that you give me that freedom from money and change me more into the man that you want me to be.”

Since committing to give in a sacrificial way, there have been times when I’ve wondered if I did the right thing.  My mind drifts to how great it would have been to make that purchase my heart desired or save that additional money for retirement.  Each time that happens, I open my hands up before God and say “Lord, this is my small sacrifice.  I did it to be free.  Please remove all worry and obsession about money in my life.”  I know that the more that I give, the more I will receive the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

An Interview with Our New Generosity and Finance Pastor

October 26, 2015

Dan Easley has been coming to Church of the Resurrection with his wife Lois for over 25 years, so many of our members know him well. For those who don't, they've probably at least seen him around – he likes to joke that he's the guy who always wears a tie so that people won't notice he's bald!

Dan recently joined Resurrection staff as the Generosity and Finance Pastor, playing a significant role in helping to launch the Moved by Jesus generosity initiative. Dan is very excited to serve Rez in this way, so we wanted to ask him a few questions to help our members get to know him even better.

When did you start coming to Resurrection? How did you find out about Rez? What makes you call Rez home?

Lois and I started coming to Resurrection in 1990. At that time our son Ben was almost two, and our son Chris (who now manages the worship teams at Resurrection) was not yet born. We found out about Resurrection from John Fawcett, a friend who had been the pianist at the church Lois and I were previously in, before he came to Resurrection as the Worship Leader. (John has since passed away). We call Resurrection home because we meet Jesus here. Even though Rez was very different than our previous church and upbringing, we kept coming back because we find Jesus here.

What roles/ministries have you been involved in at Resurrection over the years?

Since I've been here over 25 years, I've had the opportunity to be in many different roles at Resurrection. When we moved our services to West Chicago High School in the fall of 1990, I was the one-person audio team. Well, not quite one person—my two-year old, Ben, was sitting on my lap, and sometimes he tried to adjust the volume on the sound board. I was the leader of a small home group called a "cluster" for many years. I have been a Vestry member (the Vestry is our "church board") many times, as well as the Sr. Warden or Jr. Warden of the Vestry. I've been on the sound setup team (when we were a mobile church), a benevolence team, a missions team, a Y2K team, the Eucharist team, the Prayer Ministers team, the Intercessors team, and the Generosity Team. I occasionally lead Prayers of the People, or read one of the readings in the Sunday morning worship service. The highlight of my week is hosting the 1 year olds, or "Sprouts" during the 9:00 AM service. I came on staff as the Generosity and Finance Pastor just two months ago.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Resurrection?

Coming from a different liturgical tradition than Resurrection, the first time I received Eucharist at Resurrection was memorable. It was during Lent of 1990. A small group of perhaps 15 people were present on a Wednesday night (at that time the attendance of Resurrection was less than 100 people), and we received the Eucharist standing around the altar. The baptism of each of my sons was special. Perhaps the most memorable events have been seeing reconciliation occur with people after painful times of disunity.

How has Resurrection shaped you in preparation for this role (even if you didn't realize it at the time)?

From a leadership viewpoint serving as Sr. Warden of the Vestry on several occasions, and serving as the lay leader of the generosity team during the REACH initiative in 2011 were formative. But from a passion and joy viewpoint—I love serving Jesus through Resurrection! The worship in particular draws me close to Jesus and invigorates me for service.

What excites you most about the Moved by Jesus generosity initiative?

The Moved by Jesus initiative has given Lois and me the opportunity to ask ourselves, "How is our giving changing us? Is the way that we are giving (and living) drawing us closer to Jesus?"

When you share the vision behind Moved By Jesus with someone for the first time, what do you hope he or she takes away from the conversation?

I hope they take away an excitement for helping Resurrection fulfill her new vision: Equipping Everyone for Transformation. I want them to have great joy in giving to something they are passionate about, and I hope that they are changed by their giving.

Has your perspective of generosity changed over your years at Resurrection? If so, how?

When Lois and I came to Resurrection, we were already consistent givers. But as I became excited about the possibilities at Resurrection, I changed my thinking to, "What can I sacrifice so I can give even more?" When I told Lois what I was thinking, she responded by saying, "You just told me how we can afford to give that amount. Let's pledge something we don't know how to give!" We did exactly that, and immediately saw God provide for us in a totally unexpected way. So we've grown to be faith-filled givers. Every time we make a new commitment it is scary, but every time God has provided.

How have you seen generosity shape your own journey of transformation?

As Lois and I have given, it has changed the way we think and the decisions we make. The way we gave money preceded and enabled our decision for me to leave my profession as a project manager at McDonald's to become the Generosity and Finance Pastor at Rez. It has opened up whole new vistas of adventurous living!

How can we participate in being Moved by Jesus through this generosity initiative?

Read the Moved by Jesus booklet, pray over the commitment you want to make, and join those who are making an early commitment on November 7. But Moved by Jesus isn't just a catchy theme—it is something we really want to be true of us. Meditate on the Gospels, and ponder how Jesus might want to change you.

You've seen Resurrection grow into different seasons. What's different about this next season of ministry ahead of us?

First, the core values of Resurrection are the same as when I came 25 years ago. We are following Jesus. We are sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic. Worship, healing prayer, and listening to God still characterize us. What's new is that we now have a more outward focus on equipping everyone. We are using the sanctuary God has built in us to reach out more explicitly.

Can you share a little known and/or fun fact about yourself?

As a teenager, my family had a milk cow named Janey, which I, my mom, or my dad milked twice a day. Somehow my older brother and sister missed this chore.

Is there anything you'd like to say to the people of Resurrection as we move into this new season?

I can't begin to tell you how much delight there is in following Jesus with everything I am and everything I have. I want you to share in that adventure!