Why We Have Not Talked About Giving
So next month in January we will officially be four years old as a church, and if you’ve been around Cities Church for any length of time, one of things that you’ve probably noticed — or not noticed — is that we don’t really talk about giving. We don’t pass an offering basket; we don’t email you about it; every now and then we mention the boxes in the back, but overall we just don’t really talk about how you can make financial contributions to our church.
And let me give you three quick reasons why. These are three reasons why in our first four years we have not talked a lot about giving:
1) We don’t want your money if you don’t want to give it.
We assume that if you’re part of our church but you’re not supporting the church financially it’s because you don’t want to, and Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion.” So this means: we’re not trying to pry out money from white-knuckled fists. God doesn’t want that money, and neither do we.
2) As a church we have never been financially desperate.
We became a self-supporting church in our first year; God has given many mature Christians who give often; and we have a sensible ministry budget. Therefore, we’ve never been in a place where we’re scrambling over finances. We’ve not been in a place where we’ve been forced to keep talking about money, and so we haven’t.
3) We have missed a discipleship opportunity.
So one and two are reasons we don’t talk a lot about giving, but they’re not good reasons. When it comes down to it, our not talking about giving is really a missed opportunity in discipleship.
Here’s why: giving is not first about the need you’re giving toward; it’s first about the heart from which you give. Also, your generosity does not correlate to the wealth of your resources; but your generosity correlates to your understanding of grace. That’s the way the apostle Paul talks about it in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul was teaching the church about giving and he says:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
We should be generous because our very lives are owed to the generosity of Jesus Christ — and giving is really about understanding that. We should give thankfully and cheerfully because we have experienced God’s grace. And as your pastors, we are going to do a better job at teaching on that.
So here’s the exhortation: Cultivate a heart of generosity by pressing into the grace of God.
Prayer of Confession
Father, we confess right away that too often we blame our lack of generosity on our lack of resources. We confess, right now, that our failure to give and live generously is less an issue of our bank accounts, and more an issue of our hearts, and that is why we need your mercy.
Father, have mercy on us. You mean for us to be conduits of grace. Forgive us, Father, for making conduits into cul-de-sacs. Forgive us for making your paths of grace into dead-end roads of our own comfort. We know that stinginess is a symptom of evil — O God, have mercy on us!
And Father, we also know that if we in the church regard sin in our own hearts that our prayers will be ineffectual, and so now we come to you confessing our individual sins in silence.
We know your grace, Lord Jesus. You were rich — in the eternal fellowship of the Trinity, more riches than we can fathom —and yet for our sake you became poor. You came down to earth. You became a man. You became a poor man. So that we — because of your poverty — we become rich. This is your grace. And we thank you! We praise you! Lord Jesus, overcome us more and more with your grace! Amen.