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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First Things First PII

Matthew 6: 25-34

Jesus calls us to “do not worry!So why do you worry? Have you ever considered that worry is also a matter of stewardship, that of your attitude, emotions, time and effectiveness? This was a popular teaching and saying in Jesus time, He is pointing them once again to some of their good insights, while challenging them to not see it as academic, but something to practice!

Conceder these biblical thoughts:

  • God is sovereign, and He watches over and sustains all of His creation, including the personal needs of humanity. (Psalm 104:27). Thus, if God is caring for His minor creatures…
  •  “How much more” for you, this was a contemporary Jewish argument to understand that God is in control.
  • God delights in meeting our needs! He is not a killjoy, seeking our suffering and sacrifice for His pleasure or entertainment (Matt. 6:8).
  • Worry is a lack of trust! It shows a pointless disregard to our Lord who cares and provides for us (Prov. 16:33)!
  • The word worry means “distracted.” Do not let stress about food and clothing distract you from the more important things in life (Martha vs. Mary in Luke 10: 38-42).
  • Stature from the Greek is a figure of speech meaning our lifespan, thus that is in God’s control and not ours (Luke 12:25-26).
  • Neither, adult birds are not idle. They do not plant or cultivate what they eat, nor, do they sit around waiting for their food as the baby birds do. Birds do not worry. They are diligent, working to gather food, preparing nests, caring for their young, entraining my cat, and other bird things. So, the inference to us is, we are still to do all we can to work using our talents, abilities, and gifts, trusting that He will guide and provide.

Most scholars believe the flowers that Jesus is pointing to are the purple anemones, where they got the purple dye for royal robes. And, these same flowers, when dried, along with weeds were used in fireplaces to heat their homes. This is an image of our mortality and even the best of goods are being merely temporary, eventually rotting and decaying (Psalm 103:15-16; Isa. 40:6-8).

If we act as baby birds and do not work, we are as the fool spoken of in Proverbs (Prov. 10:8-23)! But they do not gather more than they need or can use, like the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21)

Jesus reminds His listeners then, as well as we who live now, that we can trust in God. He will provide.

The cultures around the Jews would gratify themselves with as much pleasure as they could find and endure. And, they would pray to their gods, seeking favors by making contracts of services to them in turn, thinking they would get what they wanted. Yet, as with people who do this today, just create more dysfunction and misery to themselves and those around them.

What we need to know: The Christian is called to seek God and His Will, not our gratification, which will lead us nowhere. We do not need to bargain with God, or make promises that we know we cannot or will not keep. All we need to do is trust Him, and seek His Will, which is what is best for us.

How can we counteract worry? How can you prevent worry?

First Things First PI

Matthew 6: 25-34 

Here Jesus gives us another warning on how possessions can divide our mind so that they control our direction in life. In so doing, they capture our hearts, and then control our will and aspirations (Matt. 6:19-23). Good stewardship points our mind and attitude to be careful with material things and pursuits that will cause us to worry, and worry will take the place of all else in our life, including Christ. The results of being control by possessions will create worry, as our attention, our heart, and the identity of who we are become wrapped up in them.  

What do I need to do if this happens to me? 

The solution is simple. Put Christ and His will first, everything else, secondary. When we have our hearts centered upon what is really important, our real purposes and plans begin to function correctly, as our perspectives are in line with God’s. The secret to a life of contentment is having the right perspective of our place in the kingdom. 

As a Christian, we have to have the perspective that all things in life, all that we have, see, and use, do not belong to us. It all belongs to God-period! This is what good biblical stewardship is all about. We did not create anything, nor do we really own anything; we are merely the stewards entrusted to care for, develop, and use whatever we have control over wisely. All that we have or can have is meant to be lifted up, all to His glory, and to progress with His call and His Kingdom upon our hearts and the world. 

Jesus calls us to “do not worry!” Yet, we all worry, but, when we think it through, why do we worry? What is it that is so important when compared to our purpose, call, Christ’s care and love, or our place in eternity? 

People throughout history and most people in the world today, have little beyond their basic needs of food, shelter, and a couple pairs of clothing. They also depended upon the help of others, seasons, and weather, especially, rain to irrigate the crops. Thus, the attainment of goods depended on the environment, weather conditions, and the cooperation of others around them. There were no stores, no supermarkets just around the corner. So, they would have had cause to worry, but Jesus addresses them not to do so! Now, consider all that we have today–much more than King Solomon would have had! After all, he did not have the food, material goods, or entrainment we have today. 

When we think we have ownership, we are deluding ourselves, creating worry and needless stress. We then get ourselves off His plan and Will, because we seek possession and not His Kingdome! 

Questions to Ponder 

How have you seen possessions control people and capture their attention, heart, and identify? Have you observed any difference among Christians?

 

If the solution is so simple to our worries (seek Him first), why is it so hard for us to do it?

 

Jesus tells us that pursuing material things will cause us to worry, and worry will take the place of all else in our life. How have you seen this true in your life?

 

How do possessions divide our minds so that they control our direction in life? What can you do to prevent this from happening?

 

© 2002, 2012, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

What does stewardship mean to you?

There are two words that send the average congregation and common churchgoer into fear and panic, from the leadership and pastorate, that fears to offend or drive people away, to the church member who may be too far stretched in time and giving, and cannot give anymore, to the person who does not want to be convicted, lest he be forced to reach for the sacred will of his wallet or the exercise of His call. Yet, these two words are simple, and needed, because the church and the body of Christ could not function without them being proclaimed and exercised: These simple words are Stewardship and Evangelism.  

Why such fear?

Perhaps they necessitate a response that requires us to get up and do when we would rather sit down and don’t.  So, a cold shiver goes up the back of our complacency. These two words strike at the very heart and will of plans and ideas that we have set up for ourselves. They strike at our comfort, and the way of life we like and have designed for ourselves. Perhaps they even put us in front of the mirror of duty and requirement, of responsibility and a response to our free gift of grace, which we would rather not give. Then there is the world of complacency, where a Christian will just “pew sit” his way though life in his walk with Christ. A Sunday visit from time to time is more of a greater sacrifice than he can handle. His time is booked with the duty of his own plans and ideas. So when stewardship comes up, he realizes his failings. Guilt rears its ugly head, and calls for the primeval reaction of fight or flight. Thus, we can think we can fight against such requirements and proclaim they are not needed so we do not have to meet them. Or, we can run to another church that has no such requirement, so we can hide our inadequacies. I received my gift of grace, yet I will not send a thank-you, nor will I use it. It is to sit on my shelf for my comfort and insurance only. And, for the most part, God will let us keep it there.  

That is the beauty of grace–no strings attached. But, what good is a car if all it does is stay parked? Without care, it will rust, degrade, and be of no value, even with 0 miles on the odometer. Yes, grace is given without strings attached, except for our faith. But, as the book of James proclaims, what good is it? What good is our salvation if it is only good for comfort and security? Of course, there is no greater Comfort or Security than our faith in Christ, so, why should we worry about temporary earthly pleasures, when so much more awaits us?  

But, these words of Stewardship, sometimes referred to as tithing or Evangelism, and sometimes said of discipleship, do not need to be scary. Stewardship can be an act of love, and even fun! It can be a response to His love, which will give us much, much greater comfort than any plans or ideas on our part. Perhaps Christians want to give, but they do not know how. Maybe they just need to be told that all we have is not really ours to begin with. We are just temporary stewards of His treasures, time and talents. With such a view, we may see a pleasure in giving, and see the benefits as they help build the body of Christ.