For the Love of Money: Part Three – Give

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, preached many times over the course of his life on the topic of money. To take Wesley’s sermon “The Use of Money” seriously would require a whole new way of thinking about how we earn and use money in a world in which others are in want.

As church leaders wrestle daily not only with their individual circumstances but also those of the organization they lead, it would be helpful to revisit Wesley’s 18th century sermon and learn applications for today.

In each section below, the “Simple Solution” lists a portion of Wesley’s sermon, his most concise articulation of his views on how to use money. The sermon excerpts are adapted from John Wesley on Christian Practice: The Standard Sermons in Modern English, by Kenneth Cain Kinghorn.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Giving to God by Mark Allen Powell

We all know that everything we have is a gift from God. But sometimes it’s hard to know just how to give back to God. How much is enough? What does the Bible really say? What should giving look like in our everyday lives?

Filled with good news for followers of Jesus, Mark Allan Powell’s Giving to God shows Christians the way to a better life and a better relationship with their money — and with God. Powell presents stewardship as an act of worship, an expression of faith, and a discipline for spiritual growth. Faithful use of our time, talents, and money starts with a deep, satisfying relationship with the God to whom we belong.

We can then learn, says Powell, to give gladly and generously out of our heartfelt connection with God. Informative, concise, and eminently practical (including discussion questions), Giving to God gives us resources for best using the treasures, material and otherwise, that God has given us.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

First, having gained all you can and, second, having saved all you can, then give all you can.

In order to see the basis and objective of this rule, consider the following point. When the owner of heaven and earth brought you into being and placed you in this world, He positioned you here not as an owner. He placed you on earth as a steward or manager. As such, for a time he deposited various kinds of goods with you. But the sole ownership of these things still rests in God, and they can never be taken from Him. Because you are not your own, neither are the possessions that you enjoy.

Even your soul and body are not yours — they belong to God. And your possessions in particular do not really belong to you. In the most clear and explicit terms, God has revealed how you are to employ yourself and your possessions. You are to use them in a way that becomes “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).

If you want to be a faithful and wise steward of the things that God has presently put into your hands (with the right to take them back whenever it pleases Him), ask these questions:

(1) In spending this money, am I acting according to my character? Am I acting not as an owner, but as a steward of my Lord’s goods?

(2) Am I giving this money in obedience to God’s Word? In what scripture does God require me to spend this money?

(3) Can I offer up this action or expenditure as a sacrifice to God through Jesus Christ?

(4) Do I have reason to believe that for this very work I will receive a reward at the resurrection of the righteous?

You will seldom need anything more than these questions to remove any doubt that may arise.

Faithful giving is part of faithful living – it is one way of using our finances in a manner that is pleasing to God.

Why is this subject so important? There is not necessarily anything more spiritual or godly about giving money to a church or any other cause than there is about paying bills, buying a new suit, sending children to college, or saving for retirement.

God may be equally pleased with us for using our money in any of these ways. What makes giving to a church or charity special is the aspect of renunciation. We take a portion of our money and we give it away. We give it away for others to use in what we hope will be a God-pleasing manner.

The spiritual principle of renunciation is important in the Bible and is clearly presented in the stories of Jesus. The Gospels consistently tell of Jesus calling his followers to renounce worldly goods and material possessions. Such directives may seem extreme but, certainly, Jesus calls all of his followers to deny themselves and to resist the temptation of storing up treasure on earth.

The basic point seems to be that we have a need to give. Stewardship, then, is not just about our meeting the needs of the poor, or the needs of our church, or the needs of any particular charity – it is about fulfilling our own need to give as well.

Mark Allen Powell, Giving to God

A NEXT STEP

The author of Giving to God lists 10 motives for giving:

  1. To gain recognition
  2. To attain power or influence
  3. To appease God
  4. To earn rewards
  5. To fulfill obligations
  6. To support a worthy cause
  7. To divest unwanted assets
  8. To give thanks
  9. To express love for God
  10. To convey the Christ within

As you consider these motives, which of these do you think has played the greatest part in moving you to give?

In Romans 15:27, Paul is speaking of the churches in Macedonia and Achaia and their sharing of resources of behalf of those in need. When he writes, “They were pleased to do this, and in deed they owe it to them.”

In this case, giving was something that the Christians ought to do and something that they wanted to do. Giving is both a responsibility and a pleasure, a duty and a delight.

Do you know people who have moved from reasonable to radical and given their money in ways that go beyond what might be the usual expectation? Have you ever done this yourself?

Create a giving “bucket list” for you/your family. What are the big dreams of giving you are pursuing for this year or this life? Start small and let the joy of giving propel you toward bigger and bigger generosity goals.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 97-3, released July 2018.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

Each issue SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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Out of The Heart… How Giving Reflects Belief

“You evil, lazy slave!”

These are the words the master had for the third servant in Jesus’ story recorded in Matthew 25. Each had been given a substantial sum of money; each had made choices about what to do with it. The first two servants, with varying success, had taken what had been entrusted to them and put it to work. When the master came back, these two were lauded for their good investment and faithful stewardship.

But not the third.

The third took his talent, dug a hole, and put it in the ground. And the master had that harsh rebuke for him.

He was wicked. And he was lazy. And here is the end result:

“So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:28-30).

Jesus told this story, along with a few others, during His last days in Jerusalem. All of the stories in Matthew 25 are centered around the theme of readiness. Jesus wanted His followers to live with the end in mind; convinced that He would return at a moment’s notice, and to be ready at a moment’s notice for that inevitable coming.

We look at this story and take many applications from it. We see the need to make the most of what we’ve been given. We see that there is an active stance we must take while waiting for Jesus to return. We see that we must make wise choices for the sake of the kingdom.

But there is an issue at the bottom of this kind of kingdom investment. The issues, as is always the case, is what we believe about God.

Look back at the way the third servant responded when the master returned and asked what had been done with the gifts He had given:

“Master, I know you. You’re a difficult man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24-25).

See it? I know you.

But he did not.

Nowhere in this story do we have the slightest indication that the master was a hard man. Nowhere do we see him being unfair. Nowhere do we find him being stingy or overbearing. Instead, we see him being generous, and overly so at that. Even though the master distributed the talents unevenly, the smallest portion was a gigantic sum.

I know you says the third servant.

But he did not.

This is the root of the issue. This is the bottom of it all. The real question, then, is not what you are going to do with what God has given you. The real question is, “Do you really know Him?”

Do you really know His generosity? Do you really know His kindness? Do you really know His love? Do you really know Him?

What you do is a reflection of what you believe.

Today, then, as we either hold tightly to what we’ve been given, bent on our own self-preservation, refusing to relinquish our grip out of fear or anxiety or greed, then we would do well to ask ourselves that question:

Do we really know Him?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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Four Ways Great Commission Vision Takes Great Commission Resources

There are tens of thousands of churches in America that haven’t baptized anyone in at least a year. Even though The Great Commission and The Great Commandments are core to who we are as the church, we’re struggling to engage our culture with the Gospel.

One of the reasons so few churches effectively engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?”

The right question is, “Who will it reach?”

How much is a soul worth? If you spend $500 on a social media ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experience as Saddleback has grown over the years.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense,” it’s always an investment.

The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held the first service at Saddleback Church, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in debt preparing for that service. Where did we get the money? We used our personal credit cards! We believed the offerings of the people we reached for Christ would eventually enable everyone to be paid back.

One of the “miracles” of our dress rehearsal service was that a man who had not attended our home Bible study came to that first service gave a check for a thousand dollars when we took the offering. After it was over, the woman in charge of counting the offering came up and showed me the check. I said, “This is going to work!”

Sure enough, we paid everyone back within four months. Please note: I’m not advocating that your church use credit cards to finance it. I’m just trying to illustrate how willing we were to pay the cost of reaching people for Christ.

Often when finances get tight in a church the first thing cut is the evangelism and advertising budget. That is the last thing you should cut. It is the source of new health and life for your church.

Second, people give to vision, not to need.

If “need” motivated people to give, every church would have plenty of money. It is not the neediest institutions that attract contributions but those with the greatest vision.

Churches that are making the most of what they have attract more gifts. That’s why Jesus said, “It is always true that those who have, get more, and those who have little, soon lose even that” (Luke 19:26 TLB).

If your church is constantly short on cash, check out your vision. Is it clear? Is it being communicated effectively? Money flows to God-given, Holy Spirit inspired ideas. Churches with money problems usually have a vision problem.

Third, when you spend nickels and dimes on evangelism, you get nickel and dime results.

Do you remember the story about the time Jesus told Peter to go find money in a fish’s mouth in order to pay the Roman taxes? In Matthew 17:27 Jesus told Peter ” . . . go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin.”

I believe there is an important lesson in that story: The coins are always in the mouth of the fish! If you’ll focus on fishing (evangelism), God will pay your bills. That doesn’t mean we reach people so that they will give. We reach people because Jesus loves them and wants to save them. But one of the supernatural fruits of discipleship is generosity toward the cause of reaching others.

Fourth, remember that “God’s work done God’s way will not lack God’s support.”

This was the famous motto of the great missionary strategist, Hudson Taylor. And I think it’s a timeless truth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Is Giving to a Cause, Not the Church, Even Biblical?

“Millennials want to give to a cause.”

Heard that one? Of course you have. And it’s true. Just not the whole truth.

Here’s all of it:

EVERYBODY wants to give to a cause.

It’s just Millennials who are holding the church accountable to having one (which, I might add, is a good thing). So how have many responded in a knee-jerk fashion? By creating “boutique” giving options that offer channeled, specific giving to direct “causes” that bypass the general operating budget of a church or nonprofit.

So instead of giving to a general operating budget that might result in, say, a desk or a laptop or a 401K for field workers (no “cause” there, right? Just that damnable, wicked, evil “overhead.”), you can give to drilling a specific water well outside of Lusaka, Zambia that will serve 112 AIDS orphans.

Pure, unadulterated “cause” giving.

So quick, which one do you want to give to—the “overhead” desk or the water well?

And all God’s people said, “Water well.”

Here’s the problem. That water well won’t be dug without a desk. Meaning a person on the field, in that area, serving as a liaison between your money and the actual completion of digging that well. Not to mention identifying the AIDS orphans who will be served.

The desk IS the water well.

How do I know?

To carry our example out, I personally traveled to Lusaka, Zambia. Our church had just sponsored hundreds of AIDS orphans through a relief organization, and I wanted to see where our money went.

Yes, it dug water wells. Yes, it gave blankets.

But I walked away with a deep, deep realization that none of it would have been possible without the staff and infrastructure of the organization on the ground making it happen. They were the ones living with and serving those orphans. Funding them was every bit as important as anything else. Maybe more than anything else.

We simply must grow in our maturity in understanding that we can’t just “give to the cause” as if only the water well – or blanket, or goat, or meal, or roof – is the cause. The “cause” is everything that serves the cause, enables the cause, funds the cause.

So what’s the real problem with Millennials – or anyone else – who want to give to a cause?

Casting the vision.

If the people in your church do not feel like your church represents the cause of Christ in this world, the solution is not to offer alternate causes to gain their attention. It’s to cast the vision of the church as THE cause of Christ (which, I might add, it is) and how it IS on the front lines of engaging those in need around the world.

If people do not think giving to your church is giving to a cause, they need cause-lessons.

And you need vision-casting lessons.

As for my tithe, I am happy for it to go to the general operating budget. I am equally as happy if it pays the light bill, funds a retirement for a staffer, or yes, buys a desk, as I am if somehow that particular set of dollars gets to an AIDS orphan in Zambia.

Why?

Because in one way or another, it all gets to that AIDS orphan.

And maybe that’s what all of us – Millennial or not – need to understand.

> Read more from James Emery White.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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Three Reasons Generosity Matters

In 1993, my 9th grade algebra teacher said something like: You’ll use algebra constantly for the rest of your life. I’d like to say that I recently completed an unbroken streak of 35 years of having never used algebra… except for this illustration. 😉

Now, I know that math gets used constantly and I’ve likely used algebra on some level of reasoning without knowing it. Why? Because numbers are everywhere. They are concrete facts and reveal the truth. The “numbers” that gain the most attention for us have to do with money. How we use money is a signal about what we value. On a spiritual level, how we use money is a signal about our faith and a tool for to increase our faithfulness.

In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, the apostle Paul wrote to the church about why generosity matters so much. There is much for us to learn along side of the Corinthians. Here are three ideas and three applications.

1. My difficulties remind me to contribute to God’s work. Paul highlighted the life and generosity of the church in Macedonia. Specifically, he reminded the Corinthians that the persecution, poverty, and pain that the Macedonians endured resulted in overwhelming generosity for the needs of others. We should learn to use our pain or our pain will use us. By focusing on Jesus’ work in the world, we will push past the detrimental narcissism that pain wants to birth within our souls. Our temporary problems should point us toward the eternal needs that drive the mission of the church.

2. My abundance is the supply for the church’s mission. If you think you do not have abundance, you are wrong. Anyone reading this has access to the Internet and you likely have clean water and a place to live. It puts you miles ahead of many in the world that have none of these. In 2 Corinthians 8:6, Paul encouraged the church to complete their “act of grace;” meaning their generous gift. Later in the passage, Paul urged the believers to make the supply for the church’s mission so that everyone could benefit. We should use what we have to help others.

But I want you to see that he is not just referring to the abundance of an individual. He is speaking to the church. They, as a community of Christians, had abundance. A church budget is a declaration of priorities. What does your church budget say about what your church values? Care is costly. Mission work requires resources. Ministry is non-stop in its neediness. But it’s worthwhile because it involves the redemption of people.

3. Our Lord called us to radical generosity. Nowhere in the Bible will you find Jesus declare, “Thou shalt be generous with thy bank account.” It is not stated that way. But look at the life of Jesus and you’ll never deny that generosity is the standard. The Incarnation was God’s radical plan for our radical need. In 2 Corinthians 9:15, Paul ended his teaching to the church about generosity with a literary shout of gratitude not to them but to God.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Christ’s poverty is not an abstract idea. It was the antidote to sin’s venomous sting. The revolutionary life of Jesus is not to be sterilized to a manageable version for us to emulate. If you want to live like Jesus then you have to give your life away. Giving will focus your life on God’s redemptive mission. This is where the spiritual algebra comes back into play.

Jesus + anything = nothing

Jesus + nothing = everything*

So what should we do with a passage that teaches revolutionary generosity?

  • As a church… move from being a catering organization to being an equipping force for God’s mission.
  • As a believer… give yourself first to Christ and your money will follow thereafter.
  • As a giving believer… focus on Gospel causes and your comfort will no longer matter.

Our lives should never be the dead-end of the God’s mission. We follow a radical Messiah who has a revolutionary message for an unredeemed world. Let’s give ourselves fully into His hands.

 

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* The phrasing of “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” was popularized by Tullian Tchividjian in his book from Crossway Publishers using the phrase as the title

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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Four Biblical Principles of Giving

What does it mean to give? How does it look? You may know intuitively that you should give but not know much beyond that.

The good news is that the Bible tells us what our giving should look like. Our generous God reveals to us four giving principles throughout Scripture.

Principle 1: Giving is to be a priority.

We are given resources so that we can give resources.

For most, giving is an afterthought. It’s what takes place after all of the needs and wants are taken care of. But in the Bible, giving is a priority.

The Bible repeatedly shows us that we are to give our first and our best to him. For example, Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest.” For the Israelites, this meant that whatever crops or livestock were produced, they were to set aside the first and best of their crops or livestock for God.

What does this mean for us? For most of us, it means that we are to give some of our gross income to God. Before taxes, before retirement savings, before debt repayment, and even before bill payments, we give.

In God’s economy, amount sacrificed always supersedes amount given.Click to tweet

Principle 2: Giving is to be done proportionately.

This means that those who have more give more, and those who have less give less. Your giving should be proportional to what you have been given.

Proverbs 3:10 says, “Bring a full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house…,” says the Lord of Armies. ‘See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.’” Throughout Scripture we see the idea of proportional giving. As God blesses us, so should we be blessing others.

Principle 3: Giving is to be done sacrificially.

In God’s economy, amount sacrificed always supersedes amount given.

When King David went to offer God a sacrifice, a man tried to give him land and animals at no cost. In 2 Samuel 24:24, we read King David’s response: “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

He knew that God would find greater delight in an offering that cost him something.

In Luke 21:1-4, we find Jesus pointing out a widow who gave two coins as the person who gave most. Why? She gave all she had. She sacrificed. Jesus is less concerned about what is put in the offering plate and more concerned about what is left at home. God tells us to give sacrificially.

God designed us not to be hoarders, but conduits through which his generosity flows.Click to tweet

Principle 4: Giving is to be done cheerfully.

In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says, “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.” God does not want a bunch of grumpy givers. You would refuse a gift if it was accompanied with bitterness and reluctance. God is not interested in those types of gifts either.

What I love about these four principles is that God does not only tells us how to give; he leads us. God gave his first and best, his one and only. He gave us Jesus. Giving was a priority. The creator and owner of all things gave us an unfathomable gift, one that can never be matched. He gave us Jesus. He gave proportionately. The Father sent his one and only Son to die on a cross for our sins. He gave us Jesus. He gave sacrificially.

At times the principles of sacrificial giving and cheerful giving may seem to contradict each other. How can you give out of sacrifice and still be happy?

God shows us how.

Isaiah 53:10 reads, “Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.”

God found pleasure in the crushing, or the crucifixion of his Son. But how? How can God find delight in the midst of the pain?

He focused on eternity.

He focused on the lasting outcome that would result from the crushing of Jesus; his seed, us, will be with him for all eternity. And it is through the lens of eternity, storing up treasure in heaven, that we can be cheerful givers, even in the midst of sacrifice.

God designed us not to be hoarders, but conduits through which his generosity flows. Giving is to be a priority. We are to give proportionately and sacrificially. We are to give with cheerful hearts. We are to reflect the generosity of our generous God.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Art Rainer

Art Rainer

Art Rainer serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a cofounder of Rainer Publishing. He has written three books, Raising Dad , Simple Life, and The Minister's Salary, and lives with his wife, Sarah, and two sons in Wake Forest, NC.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Breaking the Generosity Conversation Barriers

How do you connect with high-capacity givers in your church who are not yet giving without appearing greedy?

 

It’s right there in the Acts 2 account of the early church. As disciples are made, giving is a natural overflow. Generosity development in your church is really people development. Leaders need to look at the matter of generosity through the eyes of the giver instead of the staff, finance committee, or other leadership group. When you look through giver’s eyes, you will begin to see how you are actually discipling them by helping them grow their generosity and develop their giving.

Solution – Break down the barriers that prevent conversations about money

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Whose Offering Plate Is It? by J. Clif Christopher

In Whose Offering Plate Is It? author J. Clif Christopher argues for real change when it comes to understanding generosity in the church today. He believes that leaders must speak in a language the congregation understands and be prepared to defend the cause to which leaders are asking people to contribute.

Christopher believes that leaders must raise the bar of expectations and not make church “easier” than in days past. Effective communication in ways that today’s donors understand is a start. Accountability – so people will see how their money is being used – is the next step.

The offering plate of today may be an electronic draft, a website click, a kiosk set up outside the worship center, or an app on a phone. Any way you do it, though, it is still all to be done for the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

One of the most powerful tools a leader possesses is language. Yet, it is one of the most commonly overlooked assets in communicating generosity.

Just think for a moment how influential language is in your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Language directs, teaches, inspires, unifies, and instructs. When it comes to generosity language at church, it typically comes in a few different dialects. When pastors are uncomfortable with the topic there is silence and even light-heartedness. When there is a need it is usually communicated in terms of the budget, building, or crisis. However, you need to develop a generosity language of gratitude, vision and discipleship.

We can’t have two masters, money and God. It is one or the other. The job of every pastor is to help God come out on top and to do that he or she must work faithfully and tirelessly to remove money from that position.

Write Ten Thank You Notes Every Week – Start making it a weekly habit to thank ten people every week who genuinely deserve it. Thank people for faithfully teaching a class, taking kids on a mission trip, mowing the church lawn, and of course, giving generously.

Start Using Generosity Stories in Worship Every Week – Begin using stories just before the offering by individuals who can share how Christ or the church has changed or affected their lives.

Get Mission Focused – Push your church to define exactly what they understand the mission of your church is as stated by Scripture. 

Preach About Your Church’s Vision – Spend time in prayer and study on exactly what you feel God wants you to be doing to fulfill your mission. This sense of God’s call should become a sermon series where you seek to help your congregation understand the vision God has for your church.

J. Clif Christopher, Whose Offering Plate Is It?

A NEXT STEP

Language is a free and powerful tool. Don’t be caught sending the biblical generosity message via a fool.

Here are some ways you can begin to discover and introduce a healthy language related to generosity. Discuss these with your leadership team and begin to implement them.

  • Tell a personal story about a money challenge you have faced. The process of how you worked through it should be human and identifiable by all.
  • Provide an illustration from common culture about how people, companies, or organizations are living generous lives. It is easy to find stories today of unassuming people doing simple things to make a powerful impact. Remember, it is not about the size of the gift, but that it is relatable to life.
  • Develop a series of messages based on the following top ten myths of a generous church.
  1. Generous Churches are huge.

> False: They come in all sizes.

  1. Generous Churches are filled with rich people.

> False: They are filled with growing people.

  1. Generous Churches are in the Bible Belt.

> False: They are anywhere.

  1. Generous Churches are older and more mature.

> False: They are changed, focused, and passionate.

  1. Generous Churches are growing rapidly.

> False: They are consistently aligned.

  1. Generous Churches are only about numbers.

> False: They are about impact.

  1. Generous Churches have a charismatic leader.

> False: They are a led by a visionary leader.

  1. Generous Churches are in big cities.

> False: They are where a generous leader is.

  1. Generous Churches have a large staff and budget.

> False: They have a leadership pipeline and spend strategically.

  1. Generous Churches have small visions.

> False: They pray and live boldly.

 


Congregations that practice effective generosity keep first things first: they focus some of their best creativity, leadership, and energies on advancing their vision.

Congregations with solid practices of generosity have a better chance of doing effective mission. The one advances the other.

When your church focuses on generosity, you are serving people. Understanding and developing generosity helps people develop their capacity and gift for giving.

Taken from SUMS Remix 33-3, published February 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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Is Up and to the Right, Always Right? Understanding Church Giving Increases

I had a conversation with a pastor last week who told me that the giving in his church was on the rise and he asked how he should interpret that.

That’s a sharp pastor.

Normally, we only do an analysis to understand what’s going on when the giving decreases. That’s necessary and can be helpful, but it’s mostly playing defense.

It’s better to know how to interpret giving when it’s increasing, so you can understand it in the moment and lead accordingly.

You might consider this semantics, asking, don’t we use the same factors to understand giving regardless if it’s increasing or decreasing? Yes, to some degree that’s true. But deliberate cultivation of generosity when it’s increasing is the wiser stewardship because it’s proactive rather than reactive.

In other words, it’s like attendance. When a leader says to me, “My overall church attendance is increasing rapidly, but I have no idea why,” he or she can’t learn from or leverage the momentum. They are so excited and grateful, they receive the attendance as a gift and think, “I don’t know why I’ve received this gift, but I’m sure happy about it.” That’s a great attitude, but not the best leadership.

More importantly, if you don’t know why it’s increasing, you are less likely to understand why it’s declining, (if or when it does), and therefore, it takes you longer to change the course of giving.

If you only know why your attendance is decreasing, you are always reacting and playing catch up to a problem, rather than seizing the power of momentum. It’s the same with the giving in your church.

So, here are the factors the pastor and I discussed to help interpret an increase in giving.

1) A positive response to the vision.

If your giving is up, take a look at what you have been doing to communicate the vision and how the congregation is responding. Ask yourself why it’s working. Learn from it, ask questions of key leaders to discover how they are responding as well. Continue to refine and bring clarity to the vision and how you communicate it. A real test of vision is whether or not the congregation takes action.

2) Maturing of faith.

We know that giving follows in tandem with the increasing spiritual maturity.

As believers learn to trust God and obey His word, giving is part of a natural expression of faith. It’s rare that a nominal believer consistently practices percentage giving. When giving is increasing, be keenly aware of the spiritual dynamics in play from the prayer life of the congregation to their hunger for the Word.

What practices seem to be increasing and why? When can you learn and leverage to help people continue to mature in their faith?

3) Confidence and trust in the senior pastor.

In general, people will not give to the church where they don’t have confidence in the leadership of the pastor. And they certainly don’t give if the pastor is not trusted.

The more extreme examples need no explanation, but this is often difficult to discern in the more moderate illustrations. For example, if the pastor is liked, but doesn’t seem to have a clear direction of where the church is headed, the confidence of the people is likely low.

Strong giving is not only an indicator of mature and obedient believers but also that they have confidence in the leadership of the pastor. If you are not sure, one of the best ways to know is to ask several trusted leaders and confidants in the church, such as board members, prayer partners, and one or two key staff.

4) Relationally connected with others in the church.

People always feel more connected when they share meaningful relationships with each other as part of the congregation.

There are two primary long-term points of connection. They are small groups and serving.

Small groups carry a strong sense of community and belonging as people open up, get to know each other, pray and support each other in their everyday lives.

Serving teams often carry an even stronger sense of community because of the bonding that takes place when people serve together on a team focused on a particular goal or mission.


There are obviously other factors at play when it comes to increased giving such as the possibility that a single large gift caused the offering to increase substantially that month.

We learn different things if there are a few additional significant contributions or if there many smaller ones. It’s important to understand why a large contribution is given, but it’s more important to understand trends.

I’m more like the pastors who are just grateful when God blesses. I have caught myself saying, ‘You know, I’m not sure why the giving is so strong, but I’m very grateful.” That’s obviously not a bad thing, but the leader in me needs to be grateful and have a good understanding of God’s blessing. That enables me to lead farther and extend God’s Kingdom to the greatest potential. That will help you too.


Learn more about generosity and giving patterns – talk with an Auxano Navigator.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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The Most Powerful Impact on a Giver’s Money: Just Ask

Right now, many pastors are asking how to increase giving this year. They have set their annual budgets, have planned for staff and expenses, and are anxiously watching the stock market and political news.

I have seen many strategies to increase giving in churches, and the most common has ‘hope and prayer’ as a central tenet. While I am a fan of hope and I think prayer is essential, there are also things we can do as leaders to increase revenue. I believe the two most powerful methods are to tell stories about the impact a giver’s money will or has had, and to simply ask.

Why Not?

When I talk with church leaders, there is a lot of resistance to discussing money with the congregation. There appear to be two primary reasons. First, they feel awkward or guilty about asking people for money that goes directly into their pocket. That seems selfish and greedy. Second, they don’t have good tools or language to talk about giving in a productive way.

I have worked in some version of sales for many years now and I know every sale impacts my pocket. Maybe I get a commission, or maybe I just promote my company, but even that makes my employment more stable. As a result of that, I have learned to be comfortable asking people to buy stuff I sell, as long as I believe it is in their best interest.

So let’s talk about how to ask for money. What are the steps?

Create an Invitation

Any time you are asking people to give, I recommend you follow this six-step process to create a well-formed invitation. Invitation is different than cajoling or begging because an invitation honors the human dignity in both you (the asker) and them (the giver). Without preserving human dignity and their right to choose, guilt and frustration sets in on both sides of the conversation.

  • State what you want. Creating an informed choice is critical to an invitation, and that starts with them being well informed. I recommend very direct language here. “I would like to see each and every one of you tithe 10% of your income to this church for a year.”
  • Describe the benefit to you. Do you feel that personal guilt rise up in your gut? In this area, you should focus on the benefit to the church, but don’t neglect that you are a beneficiary. Transparency is key to eliminating the gossip and inferences created by an unclear message. “If you decide to do this, our church ministry could grow tenfold. We can increase the salary and health benefits of our staff, which I know I would enjoy, and we can finally fix that air conditioner. Imagine the homeless outreach opportunities!” (This is also where you can share those stories we mentioned earlier.)
  • Show the benefit to them. Do they really get a benefit from giving their hard-earned money to you? I believe they do. I have found that regular giving is a form of discipleship and faith that has yielded great benefits in my life and my marriage. Think deeply about your own theology and attitude here. “I think the benefit to you is a sense of satisfaction that you are moving the kingdom of God forward. In addition, I believe following God’s commands reaps great rewards in your life.”
  • Explicitly give them the right to decline. It is very tempting to leave this part out. They already know they can decline to give, right? They must know that, they aren’t giving now! Something very powerful happens when you explicitly say it out loud (and mean it). You have handed all the power in the conversation over to them, increasing your credibility and honoring their personal dignity and decision-making skills. If you are nervous or hesitant about this step, do it twice. “Of course, this is your decision and I understand if you choose not to give. And that is OK. Please know God still loves you and you are still welcome here.”
  • Describe the consequences if they decline. The second part of making an informed choice is knowing what will happen if I decline. Since you just told me declining was fine to do, it is only fair that you share what will be the natural consequence of that decision. “We operate this church on your tithes and offerings. Without them, we would have to reduce our facilities maintenance and our staff.”
  • Inquire and wait. Make the ask. Close the deal. Make the sale. Once you have presented the other elements, and made your case, then clearly put the monkey on their back. Once you have done this, stop talking. No really, let the silence invade. It is not a pressure tactic; it is giving them space to process their own thoughts. In the moment that might be 10 to 15 seconds of dead air. In church calendars, it might take people weeks to decide. “Would you be willing to commit to this? Please let us know.”

Other than the last one — the waiting part — the order of these steps or elements is not important. I recommend starting with this order as it is easy to remember and create in your script. However, once you master the structure, feel free to change it up a bit.

A note on execution here: prepare. Take the time to think through each element and be confident in each statement. If you are feeling a bit wishy-washy on any part of this, it will come through in your communication and reduce your effectiveness. This can expose some personal views and attitudes that might be holding you back and need attention.

Your Next Move

Consider what is holding you back from being more deliberate when you ask for giving. If it is a personal hang-up, get some help from friends who are good at it. Start with your favorite salesman, then find a successful pastor and ask them to help you craft this invitation and work through the resistance.

If your challenge is the language and structure, go try out a well-formed invitation. Maybe with a congregant on the fence, or in a video announcement. Work your way up to sharing on stage and see how it goes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Bair

Dave brings a unique talent for system and process implementation to the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder and also leads our team of coaches. His history of consulting with major corporations to implement change has enabled him to build an impressive coaching framework to guide church leaders towards operational effectiveness. Dave and his wife of many years have a daughter, studying chemistry in college, and a son in high school who's passions include saxophone and drums. In addition for finding Dave at DaveBair.co you may occasionally spot him piloting his hot air ballon in the western sky.

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Top Twenty Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting

Christmas is the one time of the year when giving is on the forefront of everyone’s mind and possibly heart. You can witness it in the retailer raking it in, the mom preparing for guests, or the Salvation Army volunteer ringing that bell. Every where you go it is the season of giving. Then soon all your money will be spent and it will become the season of regretting those credit card payments. Which means the back side of gift giving can feel very different than the front side.

Giving joyfully then regretting painfully is no fun. Giving should be 100% rewarding all the time. How can we discover this? Can we move to an incredible lifestyle of consistency, dependability, and the rewarding life of generosity? A place where the front side and back side of giving are equally meaningful. Giving is fun at Christmas, but can be painful at church. Why?

I love the book of Proverbs. Virtually every chapter in Proverbs contains amazing life wisdom about finances, resources, marketplace, and generosity. I took the time to put together a brief list of the Top 20 Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting. The key is to lean into all the promises, blessings, and rewards from God. Enjoy!

1. Your Life Success Is Held In God’s Hand. When you are giving you are not losing. Your life success is in His hands, not your hands. Your ability to achieve does not guarantee success; however, your willingness to surrender does.

He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, (Proverbs 2:7 NIV)

2. Your Life Treasures Are Multiplied When They Are Released. When you give to God you are really giving back to God. It was never yours to start with. When we live with an open hand God is able to release what He wants us to have.

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 NIV)

3. Your Life Will Not Want For More. What is it like to not want anything more than what you currently have? To not worry about today, tomorrow, or the next. God promises He’s got it, so be generous.

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:3 NIV)

4. Your Life Can Receive Undeserved Blessings. I like getting rewards, but I like undeserved, surprise rewards by grace even better. Load me up, Lord!

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. (Proverbs 10:22 NIV)

5. Your Life Can Make An Impact In Your City. Everyone wants to live a life that counts. Usually we think a life of significance is for the mature or successful. Maybe you dream about it happening one day for you. You probably think you need to get some problems solved or gain a new career. Wrong, live righteously today and your city will be blessed.

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. (Proverbs 11:10-11 NIV)

6. Your Life Will Be Prosperous To The Level You Are Generous. It is not about giving to get. However, you can’t stop God from wanting to bless you. So just give and let Him do his thing. It’ll be okay. Maybe even better than okay.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

7. Your Life Career Will Be Rewarded. Wake up everyday, work hard, and ask God to bless your work. He wants you to be successful at what you do. Bloom where you are planted.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. (Proverbs 12:11 NIV)

8. Your Life Savings Will Expand Little By Little. Giving to others doesn’t mean not giving to yourself for future needs and opportunities. You might not see the reward of faithfulness today, but little by little it grows a great return.

Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11 NIV)

9. Your Life Will Honor God When You Honor The Poor. Giving to the poor is wonderful, especially when it is the same as honoring God. Every imperfect, hurting, selfish person can honor God. That’s an amazing thought.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Proverbs 14:31 NIV)

10. Your Life Will Be Protected If You Find Yourself Alone. Being alone and the fear of doing without is scary. God protects us when we need to be protected.

The Lord tears down the house of the proud, but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place. (Proverbs 15:25 NIV)

11. Your Life Will Experience Favor When You Serve Your Leaders. Humility and service are also expressions of generosity. Rebellion, selfishness, disrespect, and entitlement are, well, the opposite. God blesses you when you respect authority figures in your life.

When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring. (Proverbs 16:15 NIV)

12. Your Life Will Go Places When You Give. Jesus said that the last will be first and the first will be last. He also said that He came to serve and not to be served. Do likewise.

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. (Proverbs 18:16 NIV)

13. Your Life Can Give Without Sparing. Need and greed compete with giving. Givers have given long enough to know God gives without sparing so it is okay to do the same.

All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26 NIV)

14. Your Life Will Become Free When You Stop Depending On Yourself.You can not make yourself rich. God creates, disperses, and takes away as He pleases. You will always be standing on the same level ground as everyone else no matter your home address.

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:2 NIV)

15. Your Life Will Relax When You Realize God Made Money To Come And Go, So Let It Go. Money is simply paper or metal to be circulated among all God’s creation. It is never really yours to keep, so share it.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. (Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV)

16. Your Life Hope Is Permanently Secure. Change happens and it can be very unnerving. Today change happens rapidly and repeatedly. Money won’t stop change from occurring nor can it provide you permanent peace or hope. God has your future secured and it is a hopeful one.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18 NIV)

17. Your Life Will Become Consistent When Your Priorities Are In Place.God gave you principles, laws, and truth for your benefit. He does the same for your financial life. Follow the truth and you will be blessed. I think you probably know what the alternative is. You reap what you sow.

Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. (Proverbs 24:27 NIV)

18. Your Life Will Be Rewarded When You Give To Your Enemies. Giving can be fun, but it can also be hard. Then sometimes, it can be really hard. God has a gift for you when you do the really hard thing like live generously towards your enemies.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV)

19. Your Life Will Become As Generous Is You Envision It To Be. Vision matters both at work, church, and home. No passion, no priorities, no plan, then no reward. Discover God’s unique vision for you and live it.

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Proverbs 29:18 NIV)

20. Your Life Will Expand When You Focus On Today. Focus doesn’t limit, it expands. Give today all you’ve got at every moment. Be generous when you pray, think, drive, shop, talk, work, and live. You will find more ways to be generous than you imagined. God will care for tomorrow and all it’s worries.

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV)

If you are a preacher, I dare you to turn this into a sermon series. If you do, let me know. I’d love to see it.

Want to walk through Proverbs with your team to discover how every chapter contains multiple jewels of wisdom about money? If you are struggling with confidence in being the lead financial disciple, or if you just want to sharpen the skills on your team, please check out my book, Leading a Generous Church.

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Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.