How do we Increase Giving in the Church?

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Mark 12:41-44; Acts 2:44-45; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7

Simply put, from over twenty years of research and practice in this subject and a Ph.D., in it, it all comes down to two words, maturity and gratitude. The ones who give are going in their faith. Growing mature in the precepts of God’s Word and the practice of a real living faith. The ones who do not are not. The precursor of this and comes from this is a realization of the magnitude of how much we have been forgiven by our Lord, so we feel indebted, and thankful. Mature and thankful Christians, as in real followers of Christ, will realize they are stewards of God’s resources and will give back. While, immature believers, those who want to have only their needs met and their ears tickled, will be selfish and thus stingy.

Thus, the role the church leadership needs to go back to the basic call of our Lord, make disciples, feed the flock!

Once we form a more mature faith, and develop a strong sense of gratitude for the grace flowing in us, what should we do about our stewardship? How can we best respond with the goods given to our care? How much do we keep for ourselves, how much do we give away; how much is for us to play with, and how much goes to the work of the church? There are no concrete answers here; it is a call and a response of our heart and faith. We are given the general parameters from Scripture; it is up to us to figure out how to apply them. And it is the job of the pastor to preach the Word, set the example and allow the Holy Spirit to convict. Yet, this is hard for most, even me, and the source for most debates are nothing new. This subject is now, and has been very controversial. It has been a bitter debate since the formation of the early church, perhaps because most people like to do things their own way and do not like the real true Truth of the Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Thus, relinquishing control, especially with their pocketbook is muted from the desires of the flesh. So, we can see all kinds of crazy teachings from every conceivable perspective. But what we need to do is see what God’s Word says, pray, and go from there.

God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves and refuse to give back.

Especially when, what we are called to be using His resources to model and promote the Word of Christ and the service of those around us and the world. Too many Christians have bought into the consumer-driven culture and the megalomaniac and prideful pastors who lead so many astray. Such atrocious rebels of God call and Word, seemed to be blessed. But in fact, their reward is worldly and not eternal. And the ‘blesser’ is not the God of the Bible. And the sums of money they received was supposed to go to outreach and missions, doing as Christ called in the Gospels, helping the poor, not helping the rich. Thus, the spire away from maturity continues to fall. The Christian community has become greedy for selfish reasons and too selfish to give. While insisting that only their needs be met, unconcerned with what are the real need for the community and the call we all have. Then the local church with good pastors suffers from this, as their people tend to sit back and do little and give little.

To turn this around will take revival, that begins with real prayer and the teaching of the Word and the silencing of the nonsense that is out there in the pulpit and the weak Christian’s heart.

To begin, the church leadership starts with a recommitment to the faith. To surrender to Christ’s Lordship and publicly repent. Now they have maturity and gratitude. Then, form the vision and follow through to know our Lord and teach His precepts wholeheartedly, Who is Christ and what He has done. And also have seminars on family budgeting and money management. So, the people have the maturity and gratitude and are in the know. Then, teach and model the joy of giving and what stewardship is about. Then, model it regularly by all the church leaders and have testimonies about giving sacrificially and transformed lives. Then, teach how to give. Then, after the previous steps are made, ask people to give, who are now growing in the faith. Now you have a church where there is ample giving and one that is willing and able to roll on its call.

 

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The Perception of Stewardship PI

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In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:3-5: From God’s perspective, what are the standards for stewardship are we are to have?

First off, 1 Peter tells us that we are chosen by God and by God alone! The Holy Spirit sets us apart. We are able to hear and receive His Words of grace and life. And of this, we should know; yet, we need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ. If not, we will soon forget and replace His guidance either with our frailty or with the ways of the world. 

As we know, stewardship and tithing are hot subjects today and Christians seem to love to debate them. Unfortunately, most seem to have a skewed idea of what these subjects entail, and only impart their ‘assumptions,’ and ‘desires,’ not the facts from God’s Word. I just read through some Christian blogs and Facebook posts about this topic, and what amazed me was how people were arguing back and forth out of total ignorance, from both sides. Some people, saying they were pastors, were getting Greek words totally wrong and passages out of their context. People claiming to be mature Christians were using inappropriate language and tone, putting the other person down and even verbally attacking those who did not share their skewed opinion. Neither group was willing to dig into the text of the Bible to see what it really says; they just wanted to spout off with their preconceived ideas.

As a former academic debater and postgraduate student, I know that it is essential to form an argument on facts and logic, and not emotionalism and presumptions. With Scripture, this is fundamental and essential! Nevertheless, these message boards were all filled with assumptions and emotions, no real facts, no word studies, no thought-through doctrinal arguments. It was just, “what I believe” or “what my church does.”  Oh, how sad this is! The Bible was being used just like a buffet, to pick and choose what would fit their experiences and mindsets, ignoring the rest, and unconcerned to what God’s Word really said in its simple, clear, and concise form. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. The key is context–not reading into it what is not there, or taking out what is there.

One clear theme emerged from these message board “discussions.” People did not want to take responsibility for what God’s Word said, or what stewardship really means in applying it to their wallets.

Know this, emotions and personal Will, will block reason and Scripture. Instead of carefully crafted arguments, people misused the Word to force their views so they did not have to give to the church. I was dumbfounded, and thought these must be high school or young college students who never read a Bible, but some of them said they were pastors! I do not know if that is true, due to the immaturity of their language and arguments, but it would seem that the checking of facts and conviction of the truth were definitely absent.

The mature Christian may realize his or her responsibility in stewardship and then struggle in prayer and with family about what to give. And do it chearfully!

He/she will seek God’s Word for how he/she can serve Him and the church. A mature Christian should never rationalize that it is good not to follow his/her call, use his/her gifts, refrain from sharing his/her faith, or not to give. As persons saved by grace, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude for what Christ has done for us so we naturally desire to serve Him with all of our heart and means. Yes, you are not forced to do anything, because as His elect, you are saved by your faith alone in what Christ has done alone—period! But, as James tells us, what good is it? What good would you be (James 1:22-25; 2:14-19)?

Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)! Make a list of them, and put them in a place that you can see daily to encourage yourself. (Keep in mind that true treasures are not material in nature, so look to relationships and character)

 

©  2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

Stingy is Unfaithfulness

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Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

 

Read Matt. 25:14-30: Take a look at, “You wicked, lazy servant!” Now, what is the meaning of unfaithfulness?

Have you ever considered that when we are stingy with the resources God gives us we are being unfaithful? That we are betraying His trust, letting down our Lord and Savior?

Look at it this way, greed, stinginess, selfishness, and miserliness are the rotten fruits, because we hoard what God has given us, what He meant for us to share.

We do not use properly as Christ has given and called us to do. This blocks the flow of God’s blessings and His “living water” from flowing in us. We will become stagnant and useless to either the Kingdom or the people around us. Pride and arrogance will be the driving force-the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!

When we are just stingy we are being self-seeking, we are selfish and unconcerned with eternal values or with serving our Lord. By doing this, we fall into a trap, because we are not doing as we should. As a result, natural consequences will take over. God’s precepts are for our benefit and protection; He gives us what is best for us, and we are to pass it on, just as loving parents would do for their child. By not placing ourselves first, we are able to place Christ first and we end up with a better deal. We can seek the His love, and this will compel us to share our richness as Christians with both ourselves and with others. So, out of our completeness in Christ, we can build ourselves up in Him, casting away what has hurt us, what causes us to fear, and what is wrong, replacing it all with biblical stewardship and values. This will be laid on the foundation upon which to create the lasting bonds with Christ and others, as we glorify our Lord and live in and for His Church (Prov. 10:12; Matt. 6:33; John 12:24; Eph. 5:15-21; Phil. 2:21; Col. 1:13).

  • Stewardship is the wise use of our materialistic goods and abilities, as well as with our time. Wasting time and resources and not sharing, in the eyes of the Puritans, was a sin, and that notion did not originate with them, but with God’s Word.
  • Stewardship is being neither reckless or hiding from our duty by playing it safe.

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17: What are the standards for stewardship we are to have?

  • Stewardship recognizes that we, as Christians, as well as everything in creation, belongs to God.
  • Stewardship is proportionate to what we are able to give. The poor person’s small gift is just as important as the rich person’s big gift! Sometimes, we cannot give as much as we would like to, due to economic realities, job loss, business not good, sickness, in fulltime ministry etc., so, we give honestly and efficiently whatever we can.
  • Stewardship is the giving of ourselves and our resources with joy and gratitude for what we have been given. Stewardship is not something that results from a forced obligation or a bad attitude. Giving should always be cheerful! If it is not, then you are not really giving–are you?
  • Stewardship is the comfort of knowing that everything comes from God. He gives us our clarity and the vision and character of what to be and do. We can trust in Him, and not in our materialistic goods.

When a Christian is giving from selfish motives, he or she expects a return for his or her “investment.” When a real, growing, mature Christian gives, he/she expects nothing in return. One investment is eternal, while the other so-called Christian investment is about the world of just for today.

Thus, a key aspect of stewardship and love means we are not selfish. How do we know if we get this right?

If you do not care for others outside of your circle, then you are demanding your own way because your pride is in the way of His Way, and sin is on its way to you and from you! Our lives will be a false dedication to things that are not centered upon His will. We cannot earn our way, but our way must reflect His work (Rom. 6:12; Eph. 5:15-17; Col. 3:5; 1 Pet. 2:24)!

 

Biblical Concepts on Generosity PII

Generosity in Practice 

Generosity is the realization we have His living water flowing in us. To keep it fresh, it must flow out of us, too (John 4; 7:38)!

This is like the Dead Sea in Israel, which is a dead body of water that has little to no life in it. There is no life in it because it has no outlet. It has a river flowing into it, but the water remains there, and becomes stagnated with harsh salts and minerals to the point that nothing can live or grow there. When we are stingy, we become like the Dead Sea–stagnant and lifeless. The living water within us will quickly become stagnant, like a mud puddle with mosquito larvae growing in it, useless, and even dangerous.

Here are positive examples from Scripture (Exodus 36:2-7; Luke 7:44-8:3; 10:33-37; 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7)

Here are negative examples from Scripture (Haggai 1:2-9; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:31-46; 26:6-13)

Is the Character of Generosity working in you?

Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and Fruit of Generosity from God’s most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:

  1. How do I exhibit Generosity in my daily life?
  2. What can I do to develop a mindset to know that all I have in life belongs to God, and, since He supplies all I have and need, I can model His grace through being Generous?
  3. What blocks me from being Generous?
  4. How can I make Generosity function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?

 A selfish Christian or a self-centered church that does not give, and only sees themselves as a charity, will become a Dead Sea rather quickly. How sad and pathetic that would be–an unconcerned, uncaring, and self-absorbed quandary to the neighborhood, and a disgrace to the Kingdom!

Think through the steps you need to take to put Generosity into action in a specific instance. If you are not a giving or hospitable person, seek to discover why. You are blocking God’s work in you. How can you release your selfish attitudes, and embrace the flowing in and out of His work in you?

The lack of Generosity will reflect a lack of faith and obedience! If you think there are no rivers coming into you, then seek what is blocking them. Is it sin, attitude, fear….?

God blesses those who steadfastly embrace His call, and who stay true to Christ. We need to stop looking for approval from society, and seek His approval. True Character will be the fruit of our encounter with Christ and the endeavor of how we are with others around us!