There is something special about generosity: it moves people.
If there were a few things which could change our broken world, generosity would surely be one of them. I believe that for revival to come to Western nations, generosity must be one of the pillars in that rebuilding.
Statistics clearly show that the Western Church is suffering from a “generosity shortfall.”
But there is good news!
When we take a look at the early Church we can see what is possible. I want to help you capture a vision for generosity. I want you to be excited about how your church could be.
Let’s look at the early Church:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
This is a superb insight into the past but a glimpse into a possible future for your church. Notice the following:
- They shared everything. Wouldn’t that be a good place to live? A community where everyone’s needs were being met because people were sharing what they have.
- There was private property ownership. It wasn’t a community where all the assets were owned by the Church or the Government. Everyone had different financial means they could be wealthy or poor.
- They gave assets not just income. When we talk about giving in our culture, we discuss donating from our income not offering homes, cars and other assets. Now, that is generosity! We need to encourage our members to be generous not only with their income but also with assets which they have accumulated.
- They enjoyed the “favor” of all the people. Favor means to have the “support” or “approval” of someone. It doesn’t say “some” of the people liked what they were doing, it says “all” of them. Imagine a community where the Church had “favour,” a community where people were knocking on the church door wanting to see what it was doing and wanting to be part of it.
- God was glorified! The natural result of Christians being generous to each other and to strangers (outsiders or non-Christians) is the glorification of God. Clearly, one of our purposes in life is to bring glory to the Creator.
- It was a community! In our busy world, more and more people feel disconnected, alone and live without real relationships. The Church can become that warm and welcoming community again…a place where people can meet Jesus and find friends who are interested in the needs of others.
- Generosity has power! Verse 47 says that the number of people being saved increased daily. Wouldn’t you love to belong to a church where new people come to know Jesus every day? There’s a good chance that there are many people within kilometres of your church that don’t know Jesus and are also waiting for someone to reach out to them.
The Importance of Generosity
Generosity is not just something that’s nice to have; it’s a foundation of Christian living. How we handle money is a reflection of Christian health. If our church members are not living generous lives, there’s a good chance that the source of the problem is their spiritual health.
Generosity is a lifestyle. It’s something we do every day.
Generosity comes from a heart that has responded to God’s grace. The older I become, the more I realise how profound this grace is. When we have been touched by grace, we want to share it with others.
Generous people know that the real owner is God and that we are stewards of his resources. We are called to be generous with his blessings. You could say that we should be generous to others as he has been to us. Money should flow through us, not stop with us. The inevitable outcome is the glorification of God.
Generosity is contagious. People want to mix with others who are also generous. Who wants to spend time with people who don’t share with others?
There is an antidote to greed: generosity. Nothing solves a greed problem better than generosity. Greed says “I want more and more.” Generosity says “I have more than enough and am happy to share with others.”
As church leaders, we need to remember that God wants generosity for us, not just from us. Jesus says that, “It is better to give than receive,” because he knows the joy that giving brings to people’s lives. Our Father in heaven, by his very nature, is generous. What loving father doesn’t want to richly bless his children?
What does TRUE generosity look like?
I believe one of the reasons churches have lost their “saltiness” is that many members don’t know what true generosity looks like. If you or your members saw it, would you recognise it? Here’s what it could look like in your Church:
- Changed lives—lives where people have gone from a situation of self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness. Which pastor wouldn’t want a church full of people “seeking first, his kingdom”?
- A church that has a generous culture is one where generosity is constantly encouraged, celebrated and replicated. It is built-in. It should be a regular theme in your meetings, your talks and in all activities of the church.
- Generosity should pervade all of a church’s ministries. From youth groups to seniors’ groups, the concepts of stewardship and generosity should be taught regularly and deliberately.
- Always growing — Generosity should be a journey not a destination. We are on a journey towards increasing generosity. Many people have yet to join the journey. You can help them!
In 2014, I met an amazing pastor. Despite being of modest financial means, she had given away four cars! She saw people in need, e.g. single mothers, and she was moved to give her cars away. That is faith in action! That is true generosity. How many of us or our members would be willing to give a car away?
In the same year, I had the privilege of meeting a director of one of Australia’s most successful private equity companies. In one year, he earned as much as most people earn in a lifetime. But rather than indulge himself, he was using his wealth to change the country’s culture. He started a film school to train the next generation of young Christians to have an impact on the arts. Opposite the film school, he established a coffee shop & placed a Christian woman to hire prostitutes to help them out of the sex industry. He also set-up a church behind the coffee shop.
Whether we are wealthy or not, we can be profoundly generous.
What is the Destination?
The Bible says that we are made in the image of God. When you look at the way so many humans behave, you’d think that something was wrong with the reflection! But, Jesus came as the Restorer. He came to help restore us to the original design.
The goal of any stewardship ministry should be to guide our members to be “rich towards God.” In other words, God is “front and centre” of our lives, he is first, he is our focus and our passion. If we live this way, we will be on the path to being generous in the same way as Jesus.
For our members to be generous, they have to understand the amazing generosity of Christ, his amazing grace. They also need to understand that someone could actually die for them with the outcome that their souls are saved and they have eternity in paradise.
It’s not just about educating members on handling money, as valuable as that is. It is about bringing SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION!