Do you ever get sick of greedy, money grubbing churches always asking for your money? greed avarice dollarsFor some reason many people have the impression that churches are always asking people for money. Churches have reputation for being money hungry; for trying to squeeze every red cent out of the people who attend. Shoot—I would get tired of that kind of behavior!

I’m reminded of an old joke:

Three ministers are out playing golf and they’re trying to decide how much to give to charity. So the first says, “We’ll draw a circle on the ground, throw the money way up in the air, and whatever lands inside the circle we give to charity.” The second says, “No. We’ll draw a circle on the ground, throw the money up in the air, and whatever lands outside of the circle—that’s what we’ll give to charity.” The third and most senior pastor says, “No, no. We’ll throw the money up in the air and whatever God wants he keeps!”

And that brings us to:

The word of the day: CASH

In all honesty, though, ministry organization probably ask for money a lot less than you think. I’m not talking about the weekly church routine of collecting money, which different churches call different things:

  • Taking the collection
  • Passing the plate
  • Time for tithes and offerings
  • What else have you heard?

Though this has become a standard feature in many evangelical churches, ministry organizations is not quite the same thing as simply “asking for money.” In the life of a Christian, giving becomes an extension of worship—something we do in recognition that what we have is a gift from God and through our giving we say, “I value God and his kingdom and want to express it through my finances.”

So giving is an act of worship (assigning worth to something) and a practical way of making sure the needs of the ministry are met.

I had a friend tell me not too long ago:

The church doesn’t need money. Jesus didn’t need money.

But the truth is that the church does need money. Ministry requires money. And yes, Jesus did need money. Jesus had a group of financial backers that helped make his ministry possible:

And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means (Luke 8:1-3).

Jesus and his staff (yes, I mean the disciples) were provided for out of the means (income) of these women.

Once the Apostle Paul was trying to raise money to do ministry to Christians in Jerusalem. He was collecting it from the Corinthian church:

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:2-3).

There are many different financial needs for a church to do ministry. Some are related to physical location: rent/lease/mortgage, utilities, salaries, etc. Some are material needs for people: rent assistance, utilities assistance, food/clothing aid. Some are for spiritual ministries: materials for communion, children’s church, Bible studies, etc.

improve-financeMinistry requires finances. And how will Christians ever know about ministry needs unless someone tells them? It’s plain logic, really. It’s not about being money-hungry, it’s about letting Christian people know that, in order to do the ministry that God has called us to do, it’s going to take some backing.

But if you don’t want to give, no one is twisting your arm.

The Apostle Paul says:

The point is this…each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:6-9).

To honor God and to participate in what he wants to do through various ministries, my wife and I give. But that’s between us and God. Your giving is between you and God.

There is no promise in the Bible that if you tithe then God will repay you with worldly riches (no matter what some preachers may try to tell you). God doesn’t have a savings plan—you give 10% and you’ll see dividends 100x what you paid. It doesn’t work like that.

Giving says several things:

1) God, I give you this as an act of worship.
2) God, I recognize that all I have is from you.
3) God, I trust that you can take care of me even if I give my income away.

I believe that God will be faithful to us even if we give away 10% (or more) for his kingdom.

Whatever you decide to do, do it with joy for God in your heart, not for anyone else.

_ _ _

We’re going to have some reflection and response time. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.

Our first song is called Come As You Are. It’s one of my favorites and has an incredible message about coming to God regardless of our past. We’re not good enough for God. In fact, none of us could ever be good enough for God. Fortunately, it’s not about being good enough.

Lay down your burdens, lay down your shame
All who are broken lift up your face
O wanderer come home, you’re not too far
So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart
Come as you are

God accepts us as we are.

Our second song is God Is Able. It declares the awesome wonder of God—the foundation and rock upon which we build our faith and lives. The song declares,

God is able, He will never fail – He is almighty God
Greater than all we seek, Greater than all we ask – He has done great things

Lifted up, He defeated the grave
Raised to life our God is able
In His name we overcome
For the Lord our God is able

Let’s worship…

FOR REFLECTION

  1. Where am I generous with God? Where do I withhold from God?
  2. Can I view my money and possessions as gifts from God rather than things I have earned?
  3. Am I willing to embrace a generous lifestyle?

MAKING IT REAL

  1. This week, practice generosity of money. Then try being generous with your time.
  2. Identify some things in your life that you would do well to give away.