“Christian kingdom generosity gushes out of the heart and soul of the redeemed believer. It is cultivated and ripened through love for God and gratefulness for Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Generosity should never be forced nor guilt-driven, it should flow lovingly from the believer’s heart.” Keith Haney
One of the main challenges I faced serving congregations under 200 in worship services on Sunday were the monetary issues. We never seemed to have enough funds to carry out all the wild and crazy mission ideas the Senior Pastor, namely me, wanted to implement. This post will address the elephant in the room, money. Smaller churches, if they are not careful, can spend all their meeting time discussing and bemoaning just how little of the almighty dollar they have available to put into circulation for the advancement of the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Churches can easily slip into a mentality of letting the issue of money hinder their bold proclamation that Jesus came to rescue those far from God. I was taught early on the best way to take a problem of this size is one tiny bite at a time. Here we go, take these few small bites today.
Kingdom generosity starts with the leader.
You cannot ask or expect your people to go somewhere that you as a leader have not gone first. Take note of the following illustration.
The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right even to lift a solicitous hand. The Emperor threw him several gold coins. A courtier was astonished at his generosity and commented, “Sir, copper coins would adequately meet a beggar’s need. Why give him gold?” Alexander responded in royal fashion, “Cooper coins would suit the beggar’s need, but gold coins suit Alexander’s giving.”- Unknown.
Leadership takes on many forms, but one quality is blazing the trail. In the small church that struggles with money issues, people are reluctant to give for fear they will not have enough to meet their daily needs. So, giving to missions suffers. Contributing to those in need suffers. Benevolence in general suffers. And the pastor leading a congregation in this mindset can quickly fall right in line with that way of thinking. Pastors are reluctant to preach sermons on generosity when they struggle with the issue themselves. The change to leading a philanthropic church begins with a charitable leader.
Kingdom Generosity needs to be taught.
The best way to shift an “us first” outlook to open-handed generosity is to teach the believer to trust in God’s promises and to celebrate how God moves in the life of the congregation. Biblical generosity is liberating, invigorating, and powerful. You are inviting followers to be content with what God has given and entrusted to them. Their money is to glorify God by funding the promotion of his gospel in the community they have been called to serve. But this generous spirit does not come. Naturally, it must be taught and developed. Our natural nature is to find ways to cut corners and cheat God.
In Nehemiah chapter 13, his task was to confront that concern. “I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them, so that the Levites and the singers, who did the work, had fled each to his field. So, I confronted the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” And I gathered them together and set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses.” Neh. 13:10-12 (ESV)
Kingdom Generosity needs church leaders.
Nehemiah proves that a strong and courageous leader is often needed to restore order and bring revival. God’s people responded to the call to meet their financial obligations when godly leadership put things in order.
“Verse 13 shows how Nehemiah put persons who “were considered trustworthy” in responsible positions. Part of the work of continuing revival is that of putting men of integrity in leadership positions. Being a man of prayer, Nehemiah committed to God what he had “so faithfully done.” The key word is ḥesed, usually used for God’s “steadfast love” or “faithfulness.” Nehemiah is a good example of someone who personified ḥesed.”
The church is an ideal place where believers can be tutored that they are a vital clog in the mission of God in the world. Local churches are vibrant local mission outpost to the community where Christians learn to not only think God’s thoughts but also model Jesus’ heart for the lost. Our work in the community and globally transforms hearts and expands believers’ impact on carrying out the commission Jesus left his church in Matthew 28, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Kingdom Generosity needs ministry partners.
The final key to fulfilling your ministry goals is to find ministry partners who share your religious values and shared vision. This could help the smaller church create avenues to connect with more volunteers and dollars that you cannot raise from your members alone. As you find people who share your mission and vision for the ministry you are attempting to accomplish for God, you will find new connections and opportunities that may not have existed before.