Monday, March 17, 2008

A New (Testament) Perspective on Giving

Have you seen these new TV ads and billboards for Shreddies, the new Diamond Shreddies? The billboards have really caught my attention; I drive past four of them every morning. This is a brilliant ad campaign which is all about changing perspective.

A change in perspective is what is needed in many of our evangelical churches especially the perspective on giving. I can remember growing up and hearing sermons on tithing. In my teens I really thought the main idea of Malachi's prophetic writing was the blessing God promises to those who tithe (but since then I've discovered Malachi really does have so much more to say to us. I even remember Pastor Jack giving people a money-back guarantee: trying tithing for six months and if you find that you are not being blessed, we'll give you your money back. I know that many churches do many desperate things when revenue is running low and staff members and bills are not going to be paid. Here's where I really do think we need a new perspective, and maybe a little change, but mostly perspective.

The old approach to improve giving in the church involved preaching about tithing, obligation, threat of losing pastoral staff, and guilt for disobedience. It was a heavy approach and usually reactive to the church's financial situation. It produced results, but in a diminishing way each time it was repeated.

The new (exciting!) approach to increase congregational giving involves preaching the principles of giving and generosity, sharing an opportunity to grow in grace, casting a vision for what God can do and an encouragement to discover how good it is to be generous. This approach is best done proactively. The results will tend to be both immediate and more long term. We all need to be encouraged to become more generous people for our Lord is always more generous than we are. His grace and love have been poured on us with extravagance.

So is it just a change in perspective? Mostly. It's still an appeal for people to give and it's still about meeting the financial demands of running a local church. But it is more than a 45-degree turn too! For it also involves moving from a misunderstood Malachi to embracing a generous Jesus who gives above and beyond what can be expected.

Related Sermon

The Refreshing Power of Generosity
The Proverbs have a lot to say about money, wealth and generosity. This message looks at several Proverbs aiming to get at the wisdom they have for us. After examing Proverbs 11:24-25, 3:9-10, 11:28 and 21:27, we'll examine how the teaching on giving found in 1 Corinthians is built on the wisdom of these Proverbs.

Related Seminar (for Church Leadership Teams, Financial/Stewardship Committees)

10 to 15 Ways to Increase Congregational Giving by
10 to 15%

World Vision is doing great things around our globe. Their presentations are done with quality. And they never hesitate to ask for financial support. We can learn from them. When your cause is just, there's no reason to hesitate from asking people to give. But how do we do this effectively and biblically?

Quite often churches do one or two things very well in the area of offerings, financial communication and teaching on giving, but why stop at one or two? There are great ideas out there which can be utilized in your church to help, sometimes drastically, improve your congregation's giving. Communication is key, but how many different ways can we communicate important truths? Why do we just keep doing it the same way when it fails to produce the same results?

In this afternoon or evening seminar, I'll map out 10 to 15 ways you can immediately begin to work on in order to realize a 10 to 15% increase in giving at your church. I'll be happy to tailor this presentation to your church's current situation.


  1. 10% seems to be the minimum to give, but how do I get out of the mind set that my money is going to pay hydro,gas,water bills, insurance and yes even the minister's salary?
    Maybe house church's are the answer, like back in first century times. gb

  2. Anonymous, I'm sorry to take so long to respond to your comment!

    Do house churches not require their insurance, hydro, gas, and water bills to be paid? Of course, they didn't have these amenities in the first century, so maybe house churches off the grid is the answer you're looking for.

    More seriously, I agree with you that 10% is a good minimum goal. It's hard to imagine the Apostle Paul considering anything less than 10% as "generous." I'm quite alright with my offering going to the support of the minister's salary. I think most pastors are worthy of their pay and probably more than we pay them. And I like our church having lights and heat so I'm ok with the thought that some of my offering may go to pay utilities. But, I usually don't think about these mundane realities when I give because I am giving to the Lord.

    I am aiming to change my mindset and counterculturally make it my priority to give rather than to spend. I want to be generous. I want to become more like Jesus. Giving to the Lord via my local church is one way of doing this. The church leadership will be held accountable to how they have used these offerings. I need not worry about it [except maybe at annual meeting :)].




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