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Generosity, Empowered by the Holy Spirit

Spirit-driven GenerosityAnyone can give. And most people do, to one degree or another. But for Christians, there is a whole new level of generosity that can be opened when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. Paul challenged the Corinthian believers, Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7 NLT)

Paul knew that the Corinthian Church had indeed demonstrated great giftings in the areas that are public-facing. They had great speakers and an attractive flair to their worship services, but he challenged them to think deeper and consider the more difficult side of faith – what about your giving?

And as he challenged them, he made the connection between spiritual gifts and giving. Just as you demonstrate these spiritual gifts, so you should demonstrate the spiritual gift of generosity as well. There are plenty of easy ways to serve God that require little in the way of sacrifice or cost, and then there are those few ways that demand something more of us – like giving out of what we planned on enjoying or using to provide for ourselves.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the ever-giving, unbelievably generous God. He gave. He gives continually. He will never stop giving.

Acknowledging the Ultimate Gift Giver

GiverJames, the brother of Jesus, once said, Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father…” (James 1:17 GW) All the stuff we possess is a gift from God, and failing to recognize Him as the Giver is to miss the opportunity to glorify Him in our lives and in the world.

Acknowledging and thanking God as the Giver does two things for us. First, it helps us worship. That is, it elevates Him in our minds, causes us to feel dependent upon Him, and provokes us to speak well of Him to others.

And second, thanking God as the Giver keeps us humble. There is something humbling about receiving a gift. We’re never quite sure what to say, and that’s often a good thing as we stand before the Creator and King. In our silence, we become submissive to a God who loves us and cares for us by providing for our needs graciously.

Pastor, Don’t Raise Funds. Raise Faith.

Raise Faith, Not FundsFundraising is no fun. Most Pastors I know say it’s the one aspect of supporting a church’s ministry they find most difficult. Having launched into church planting, I tend to agree. The least pleasant task I have is asking for money. So let’s just stop it. We don’t have time to raise funds. But we do have time to raise faith.

Instead of asking for money, help people grow. You can ask for money and if you do it well, you’ll probably receive it. But if you raise the faith of others, you’ll help create kingdom-minded givers who understand that stewardship is what the Christian life is all about. We each have time, talent, and treasure. And as our faith increases, so does our willingness to offer ourselves and all we have on the altar to be at God’s disposal.

Raising funds is about collecting donations while raising faith involves offering kingdom opportunities. Raising funds puts us at the mercy of givers while raising faith connects giving to the mercy of God. Raising funds grows organizations while raising faith grows people.

[bcoxlike]

When we began planning to plant a church, asking for financial partnerships was the most difficult task to undertake, but I finally decided that in spite of the awkwardness of talking about money, and in spite of possibly being seen as begging, there were two much bigger realities at stake.

  • The bigger the vision, the more resources required to fulfill it. So the vision compelled me to ask.
  • Never asking means never offering the opportunity for kingdom collaboration – hence robbing people of the blessing of investing.

Ministry, when it is what God intends it to be, isn’t supported by people with funds. It’s supported by people with faith enough to give to see the vision fulfilled. And here’s the most beautiful part, Pastor – if you carry out a ministry of faithfully proclaiming the whole counsel of God, generous faith will be a natural byproduct produced in people by their continual exposure to the example of our very giving God.

Give up on raising funds. Raise faith.

5 Reasons To Partner with Grace Hills Church

Little HandsI’ve heard from plenty of people that church planting is tough. When Angie and I expressed a calling toward it, we were warned by quite a few ministry leaders to the effect of “Don’t do this unless God has definitely called you because it’s hard.” Church planters face isolation, criticism, and the constant pressure to become self-sustaining. But for me, none of these represent the toughest aspect of church planting. The toughest aspect so far has been fundraising!

One of my own pastors has well said that “He who casts the vision must fund the vision.” So I’ve spent plenty of time connecting with leaders who might be interested in becoming a strategic partner in Grace Hills Church. And I’ve noticed a variety of reactions. Some are eager to help, but aren’t sure how or where to begin. A few are honest and forthright that the funding simply isn’t available. And plenty of leaders choose, for whatever reason, not to respond to the initial contact at all.

I think for us, being one of the first Saddleback Network churches has helped to provide some legitimacy to our work. It has also given the impression that if Saddleback is involved, they must have plenty of resources (while reality is that Saddleback is only investing a portion of our initial startup funding). The economy has caused many leaders to have to be more conservative in spending, church structures often prevent leaders from making commitments, and some simply haven’t understood the dire need for more churches to be planted. I’ve had numerous conversations with other church planters via our Facebook learning lab and other places, and the fundraising struggle seems universal.

So I’m making an appeal to church leaders everywhere to consider some things with me. I wanted to throw out some reasons to get involved with a church plant as soon as possible…

FIVE REASONS TO PARTNER WITH A NEW CHURCH PLANT

Partnerships Work Both Ways

My wife and I have said over and over that we don’t really want partners to simply write a check and be done. What we would prefer is an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship. An established church can often catch a bit of a vision for reaching new people as they celebrate the stories of life change that spring out of a new church plant’s journey. As I’ve connected with potential partners, we often wind up talking as much about the needs of their church as we do about the needs of Grace Hills. We have partners who will be sending teams and others for whom I’m going to do some coaching in the area of strategy and communications. Partnerships work both ways.

Church Planting Accelerates Our Fulfillment of the Great Commission

We’ve seen it confirmed time again that new church plants reach people faster than established ones. In northwest Arkansas, where we are planting, 1,000 new people move into the area every month. We aren’t competing with other local churches. We’re all cooperating together just to try to keep up with the growth around us. Every new church will reach circles of people not yet reached by existing churches.

Church Planters Have No Safety Net

We don’t have a building to mortgage, a pile of savings, a building fund, or closets full of kids’ craft supplies. Everything we need has to be purchased for the first time from funds that are constantly in jeopardy of dwindling quickly with few or no reserves. Planting a new church is a lot like starting a business, and wise church planters spend plenty of time planning and preparing. In our case, we have a Prospectus (something like a business plan) that we offer freely to the world that includes information about who we are, how we will handle money, and how we plan on launching a new church.

Church Plants Have Church Planting DNA

I’ve written before about the need to plant teaching hospitals rather than churches that merely exist for their own survival. We haven’t launched public worship services yet, but we’re already talking with people interested in planting churches out of Grace Hills. We’re eyeing surrounding communities where there aren’t enough churches. We’re thinking well beyond our borders in terms of global kingdom impact. And we’ll be taking these big steps and calculated risks very early, before many would consider us “ready” to do so. Why? Because we believe in church planting.

People Are Dying Without Jesus

We aren’t keeping up with population growth in America. Many churches aren’t reaching or baptizing anyone. And thousands of churches will be closing their doors over the next few years as one generation passes off the scene. This is creating a spiritual vacuum in a land that is becoming more pluralistic by the hour. Regardless of how you feel about the shifts taking place around us culturally, the fact is that God is bringing the mission field to our doorstep and we need thousands of new churches that will engage the change and take on the challenge of reaching people who will otherwise die without Jesus and spend eternity in hell.

If we had more funding, we could add a staff person, rent a nice meeting place, do more advertising and promotion, purchase initial office equipment, improve our use of technology, plan some really great community outreach events, and still work on a lean budget.

THE ONE REASON YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO PARTNER WITH A NEW CHURCH PLANT

You’re already maxed out. Last week, I received a rejection email from a friend in ministry who let me know that the reason his church couldn’t adopt us is because the are already supporting as many plants as they can with what God has provided them. Amen! If you’re maxed out in the area of missions giving, good for you! But if you haven’t stretched your church’s faith in this area, then you need to consider the infusion of passion that comes from shorting ourselves of resources in an attempt to out-give a God who simply won’t be out-given.

If your church has room to partner with a new church plant, I would love to hear from you. And plenty of other church planters would love to hear from you as well. For over 2,000 years, the church has managed to survive and even thrive on the basis of churches multiplying to plant new churches. So consider this question: If your church closed today, what legacy would she leave behind?

Photo by Poofy.

How You Can Help Plant Grace Hills Church

Donate to Relocation to Plant Grace Hills Church

 

Or, if you’re a PayPal nut…





We are now just sixty days from relocating to northwest Arkansas to begin the work of planting Grace Hills Church. The feedback we’ve received thus far has been tremendously positive. We’ve been encouraged by friends and family, fellow church planters, and the staff at Saddleback.

I am confident in God’s calling. I know this is His will, and I’m already envisioning what our church family will look like a year and five years from now. Angie asked me tonight, “what’s your dream?” My response was something along the lines of:

I dream of digging in and planting a church through which people can discover and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, where people can give themselves to an eternal cause, and where people can invest their lives into fighting problems of global proportions in Jesus’ name.

We’ve reached the part where we must begin to plan out the details of how we’re going to accomplish that vision, which is why I’m writing this to you right now. I’m asking for your help. But more than that, I’m inviting you into the opportunity to share in this journey with us – to invest in this God-given dream for the sake of eternity.

How can you help? I’m so glad you asked.

Pray For Us

One of my mentors, Grady Higgs, often says that “nothing heavenly happens on earth without prayer.” God has chosen to release certain blessings here only upon our asking for them. So please, ask! Intercede for our protection and provision.

Help Us Make Connections

If you know people whom we should know, please introduce us. That might include people who would be interested in being part of Grace Hills, or people in northwest Arkansas who have spiritual needs. If you’d like to introduce us to someone, please contact me.

Partner With Us

If you’re a believer, or a church or organization of mission-minded believers, please pray about the possibility of making a recurring investment in the planting phase of Grace Hills. When you do, you can know that you’re giving to a new church that:

  • stands on firm doctrinal ground and will not compromise God’s truth,
  • has a huge vision for reaching lost people,
  • stands ready to handle the “messy” aspects of ministry to real people with real problems,
  • wants to tackle globe-sized problems,
  • will be paying your investment forward in the form of planting other churches and multiplying,
  • will handle finances with strong ethics, openness, and high accounability.

If you would consider partnering with us, I would love to speak with you. Beginning in June, I’ll be available to travel to speak to different groups or meet with various leaders. We want to share the adventure of planting Grace Hills with people who invest together. Recurring investments will be crucial to getting Grace Hills to a place of self-sustaining maturity.

Give a One-time Gift

I don’t know very many people who enjoy asking for money, but I’ll never forget the other statement I’ve heard Grady make before… “I’ve never apologized for asking God’s people to give to God’s causes.” So while my own meekness might prevent me from asking for help, my sense of calling to this task and my compelling vision for what we want to accomplish strengthens my voice.

If you can give, if you’ve thought and prayed it through, and God has led you to do so, please make a one-time gift to help us in the relocation and initial setup of Grace Hills. You can make a secure donation by check or credit/debit card using WePay and you’ll be notified of how we’re using your gift.

We thank you again, sincerely, for your prayers and support. We can’t wait to get started and want to represent Jesus well. If you’re interested in partnering with us, giving a gift, or have a question or comment, please get in touch!