You know you’ve been there—you show up for church one morning, and when it’s time for the sermon, the pastor sheepishly announces he’ll be talking about giving.
There’s an internal groan from the audience because everyone knows how those talks feel. They feel like being hit up for something. Worst case scenario, they feel sleazy. Everyone’s sitting in their chairs trying to remember what kind of car the pastor drives and how many offering plates it took to buy it.
But the thing about God’s Church is we’re supposed to give.
It’s a mandate in scripture and the generosity of the church body is the only way the pastor will have a car at all.
But still, it’s a tricky subject and nobody likes talking about it.
What if there was a way to teach about generosity that didn’t have to do with the church’s bottom line? Yes, we know the offering plates are what keep the lights on in the church, but what if we could talk about it in a different way, a way that didn’t feel quite so logistical or quite so sleazy?
Here are four things I find to be incredible about generosity, things that could change the conversation on giving altogether.
1. It’s a different way to live.
Generosity isn’t something we do on Sundays; it’s an invitation God gives us for every day of the week and every part of our lives.
In talking about generosity, we don’t just want a 10% tithe. We want our congregations (and ourselves) to be living in a way where we freely give the way we have freely received—whether that be with our money, our time, or our love.
2. It’s contagious.
Generosity is contagious. Have you ever noticed that? One of my favorite examples of this is in the drive-thru line at Starbucks. I drove through the line a few weeks ago and when I pulled up to the counter, the barista told me my drink was paid for by the person just in front of me.
I was taken aback. That was not what I was expecting in my pre-caffeinated stupor. But it was such a nice thing to do, I wanted to pass the favor along to the person behind me. So I told the barista, and she smiled in response. “You’re the 15th car to say that,” she told me.
Yes, when we think about it, every person in that line just essentially paid for their own coffee. But who cares? It’s more fun, and more heart-warming to have someone pay for your coffee and to turn around and do the same for someone else.
Everyone walked away that morning feeling generous and taken care of by a stranger—which is worth much more than a $4.50 coffee.
Generosity is contagious.
3. It’s counter-cultural.
If you look around, you’ll notice most of us feel like we don’t have enough. We spend most of our time trying to accumulate more and the rest of our time trying to figure out how to keep what we have.
Giving away what we have is directly opposed to this idea, but that’s why it’s so powerful. Which brings me to the last point.
4. It reproduces itself.
The economy of God doesn’t work the way ours does (and thank God, right?). When we give away what we have, when we’re faithful with it instead of holding onto it with all our might, God reproduces what we have.
A pastor friend of mine always says it this way: “nobody has ever starved because they tithed too much.” God just doesn’t work that way.
When we trust God with our money, giving it away instead of holding onto it for fear He wont provide, He does provide. Not only that, He always goes above and beyond what we gave to Him. God wont be out-given.
Teaching about generosity is always a daunting task, but it’s important. It’s important for the survival of our churches, but also for the spiritual health of the congregation.
When we’re generous with the things we count on to keep us safe, we’re placing our wellbeing and our faith in the hands of the one who can truly take care of us. It’s never been about the money. It’s always been about the faith.