A problem currently exists in American churches that we as spiritual leaders need to address. As a whole, American congregations (of which we are classified) are not generous. Let's look at some facts.
Christians are giving at a 2.5% per capita or tithe. During the Great Depression, they gave at a 3.3% rate. Today, 33-50% of church members, those who claim they have bought in at a deep level to the ministry of their local church, give nothing.
If we were able to see people increase their giving from 2.5% to 10% of their annual income, an additional $165 billion would flow into the Kingdom. To show the global impact those resources could make, consider the following:
- $25 billion would relieve global hunger, starvation, and deaths from preventable diseases in 5 years.
- $12 billion would eliminate illiteracy in 5 years.
- $15 billion would solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
- $1 billion would fully fund the Great Commission.
- $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.
These statistics were provided by www.generouschurch.com.
Here are some possible characteristics of a generous church. Do you agree with these statements?
A Generous Church:
- is broken about the condition of those around them and has a vision of what financial resources could do to bring aid to the hurting and suffering.
- celebrates generosity.
- is unapologetic about asking for resources. It understands that ministry costs money, and the more money you have, the more impact you can make.
- is well-funded and therefore, able to focus on the under-resourced, hurting, orphaned, poor, and those in need rather than giving so much energy to ministry maintenance.
- is on a quest to serve those around them. Too much of Swain Co. and surrounding areas live below the poverty line. This is unacceptable to the Generous Church.
- values partnerships with other organizations like LoveBryson, Samaritans Purse and Bridge of Hope to make the greatest impact in our communities and around the world.
- isn't afraid of the "Big Ask." Giving and serving aren't bad words in a Generous Church and the people of a Generous Church aren't afraid to answer the call.
- knows its community and knows how to utilize resources effectively to bring a solution to the problems.
- creatively allows its people to participate in generosity.
- has many avenues for financial contributions. There is no shortage of opportunity or mechanism for giving at the Grove. Obviously, giving on Sundays during regular worship gatherings is an easy way. But the Grove also offers online giving, automatic pre-authorized bank draft and mobile transactions. There are actually members of our team who can process contributions directly to the Grove on their mobile devices. Try it. Next time you see Jeff or Randall around town, offer to make a donation right then and there. It's painless and the receipt is texted to your phone or can be emailed to you on the spot. Pretty cool.
- recognizes that it takes all of us working corporately together. Together we make a difference.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these points.
What would it be like to see global hunger erased; every person on the planet drinking clean water; missionaries around the globe fully funded as together, we fulfill the Great Commission and ministries all over the world begin growing at record rates? This is so within reach. But it won't happen on our current 2.5% giving. Do you believe in living generously? As people, we are wired to act on what we believe. If we say we believe something and do nothing, is it really a belief or simply a nice idea?
I've been reading Bonhoeffer lately. Two things spring to mind as I wrap this entry. He says (to the effect), "The ultimate test of a moral society [like the Church] is the kind of world it leaves to its children. We do not very naturally realize that we have been given so much more than we give. But we cannot be rich without gratitude." More famously he wrote, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."
So again, do you believe in giving and living generously? Do you believe it's important to obey God? Bonhoeffer states, "Only the obedient believe." Your money is going somewhere.
If you believe it, do something with it that will make an impact.
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