I heard a pretty blunt statement recently in response to a church that doesn’t talk about money because they don’t want to alienate the unchurched. The response was simply “but you can’t make disciples without talking about money.” Wow. How true. If discipleship is all about submission to the Master, then our money has to be near the top of the list of things we have trouble submitting.
As a Pastor, I think about this subject often – why do people give offerings on Sunday? Why is giving so important to the disciple-making process? I think I’ve arrived at some solid conclusions…
People Give to Be a Mutual Part of the Family
The early church practiced this to a positive kind of extreme. People who had extra land sold it to give to the people who couldn’t give at all. So we give to take part in the family, to provide for one another.
People Give to Enable Ministry to Happen
Buildings and salaries are necessary parts of the process of ministry, so people give to the basic needs of the church.
People Give to Participate in Missions
This is true on multiple levels. We give to see the gospel shared and people helped locally, but we also give to see the gospel taken to the ends of the earth.
People Give to Contribute to a Great Vision
Maintenance isn’t enough – we give to see greater things happen, to enable growth and expansion.
People Give for the Blessing of Giving
Don’t misunderstand – I am not a fan of the prosperity (give-and-you’ll-be-blessed-ten-fold) gospel. I’m talking about all kinds of blessings, but especially the spiritual and eternal ones. If this weren’t a good motive, Jesus would not have promised that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.”
Why is all of this important for church leaders to understand? Because often we ask people to give for the wrong reasons. We ask them to give because we’re in need, we’re in the red, or we’re desperate. How motivational is that? We often lay on the guilt while God said plainly He prefers cheerful givers. We ask people to give to the present need while people really want to know what lies beyond – what’s part of the bigger vision.
Do you ask people to give to a need, or to a vision? What’s the motivation, and is the motivation disciple-producing?