5 Principles for a New Lens on Generosity
Churches shy away from talking about stewardship and generosity.
These topics are often only talked about when the church is raising funds to meet a budget, going into a building project, or needs money to expand ministry efforts. It’s understandable. Most of us will agree that talking about money, especially in front of a congregation, is scary. However, another factor is that churches simply misunderstand what true biblical stewardship is. Or, at least misunderstand how important it really is.
It’s time we, as The Church, redefine generosity and encourage giving participation through a new perspective. Return to the basics and disciple people in God’s word. Teach congregants exactly what the Bible says about living and giving in God’s image. Budgets, buildings, and ministry efforts are important things that cost money, but biblical generosity runs so much deeper than that.
Here are 5 essential giving principles that we, as believers, should strive to understand and make true in our lives.
1. God owns everything.
As a follower of Christ, you are a steward (or manager) of the time, talent, and treasures the Lord has entrusted to you. It’s a part of your identity, which affects how you live and how you give (Psalms 24 and 1 Cor. 4:2.)
But a lot of us don’t realize exactly how much the Lord has entrusted to us or we have trouble managing it.
To help your church fully understand and engage in biblical stewardship, ask them this question: What has God entrusted (given) to you? Provide some categories to help them get started. These categories could include: People, Relationships, Community, Resources, Possessions, Talents, Spiritual Gifts, Vocation
By allowing the donor to see for themselves all that God has entrusted to them, you are helping them realize the aspects of their lives in which they can do God’s work best. Will we prioritize a godly approach to how we live, how we give, and how we manage these resources?
2. We have unconditional faith through all things.
Being faithful givers should not be contingent on our momentary feelings or our financial circumstances. We should be faithful givers in all things, at all times.
Could you imagine if God decided to be faithful to us when He “felt like it” or depending on “the circumstance?”
God is a faithful giver. And as His disciples, we should be faithful givers too.
To encourage faithful giving in your church, challenge people to give financially for 90 days to the Lord. This doesn’t have to mean giving every day, but to give regularly and faithful for the duration of the challenge. Emphasis to your congregation that this challenge is about giving and faithfulness. You can also encourage your church to set up an online giving account. An online account will allow the donor to give regularly anytime and anywhere, not just in service on Sundays. Donors can also set up a recurring transaction so they can “automate what’s important.” Give practical steps on how to do this in case an individual has not yet participated in online giving. And, if they already give regularly, encourage them to increase their giving amount, like the “skip something to give something challenge.” Skip the drive-thru coffee one day a week and increase your monthly donation by $10.
3. We are for the least of these.
Crisis presents many needs as well as the opportunity to meet each one. Jesus says, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ -Matthew 25:40
So what does Jesus desire for us to do? In Matthew 25, He tells us: feed the hungry, nourish the thirsty, clothe the naked, look after the sick, and visit and care for those imprisoned. So in caring for others, you’re fulfilling Jesus’s desire to meet needs.
Try partnering with a local non-profit that meets basic needs for individuals, like local food banks, homeless shelters, etc. Give church attendees the opportunity to donate monetarily to the specific cause or to donate physical items (canned goods, winter coats, blankets, etc.) to support the ministry partnership.
4. Generosity is a love of our heart.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).” The measure of our heart’s condition is the way that we spend our money. Look through a person’s bank statement and you will see their hearts. Are they indulgent, selfish, giving, romantic, or athletic? The loves of our hearts are aligned with our money. When we add generosity toward God to the list of our heart’s alignments, our love for Him and His work cannot help but dramatically increase, and the joy that comes from this is palpable.
5. We share our possessions.
When the family of God shares possessions and resources to both take care of one another and show hospitality, it is a witness to the watching world:
- Living and giving reveals God’s grace.
Paul teaches giving as an act of grace (2 Corinthians 8)
- Living and giving demonstrates His love.
God’s motivation for sending Jesus to die was His unconditional love for us, humanity. (John 3:16)
- Living and giving reflects His character.
God is Owner, Provider, and Giver. (Acts 2:45, Luke 3:11, 1 Peter 4:9, Romans 12:13)
Encourage church attendees to take care of one another. Do a month-long challenge within your church for the people of your church. Get creative! Invite different ministries to participate. Here’s some ideas to get you started: write a note of encouragement for someone in your church, pray for a small group member, invite people over for a home-cooked meal, or share your landscaping tools with a family doing yard work.
In conclusion, this is the revolution of the Christian message: everyone can and should prioritize giving. Giving should be motivated by love from the heart, not by a specific amount, recognition, or status. When Christians participate in faithful giving, the way the Lord has instructed us to, the Church continues to move forward.