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GENEROUS CHURCH

Generous

    Our goal is to have healthy churches!  There are many descriptions, concepts, books, and trainings talking about what a healthy church looks like.  There is “Simple,” “Purpose-Driven,” “Sticky,” Vertical,” “Emotionally Healthy,” and many more.  All of these have great content and biblical directives but here is something else we need to ask ourselves, “Are we a generous church?”  Isa. 9:6 says, “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor,  Mighty God, Eternal Father,  Prince of Peace.” Christmas is about giving!

     What would happen if your church was known to be a giving church?  What would it look like if you were known first and foremost for your generosity?  If you really want to know the heart of a church take a look at how they spend their money.  This is not about what individuals give to the church, but rather, what does a church do with what they have been given.  Quite often most of the funds given to a church are spent on church members.  When times are tough, and the budget becomes tight, the last expenditures to normally be reduced are those that keep the members the most comfortable.  At the same time, all too often, the first ministries to be cut are those that are outwardly focused.

     How much of what God has entrusted to your church is being spent to fund the Great Commission and the Great Commandment?  In Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer offers twelve prayer commitments for churches to make who want to be alive and thriving.  Prayer commitment #5 says, “Lord, help me to grasp that all the money I think I have is really Yours.  Help me to grasp that all the money our church has is not the church’s, but Yours.  Give us healthy giving hearts to use these funds according to your purposes.”  What percentage of your church budget is being used to bless and reach your local community for Christ?

     Rainer goes on with prayer commitment #6, “Lord remind me that I am to be a Great Commission Christian in a Great Commission Church.  Remind me that, in your strength, I am to do whatever it takes to reach out into my community with the transforming power of the gospel.”  Some churches are focused on how much is being saved and accumulated instead of asking how they can make a difference for the kingdom with the resources God has provided!  We should rejoice when we are able to spend our resources for something beyond ourselves while expecting nothing in return.  What does a generous church give?

     First, they give the gift of love!  This kind of church looks for the lost, the last, and the least!  They take Matt. 5:43-45 literally, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be  sons of your Father in heaven.”  A generous church is looking and seeking out those who desperately need to be shown the love of God in practical ways!  They are always asking; Who can we help? Who can we feed?  Who can we love?  A generous church realizes that some will question who they love and how they love but their goal is to love everyone and realize that some, even in church, will not like that!

     Second, they give the gift of friendship!  A generous church moves beyond their comfortable circles of fellowship and reaches out to those who desperately need a friend.  They are not looking for who can be their friend but to whom they can become a friend!  They long to be like Jesus who was openly accused of being a friend to sinners!  Grace Hills church in NW Arkansas says it this way in their core values; “We are crazy about broken people. We hunger to see people healthy and growing and we’ll get our hands messy to make it happen.”  A generous church is always asking; Who needs a friend?  Who can I be friendly to that no one else even notices?  How do I beriend those that are ignored?

     Third, they give the gift of forgiveness!  A generous church wants to associate with the marginal, the poor, the destitute, the forgotten, the broken, and those overlooked by society. They have been forgiven, they practice forgiveness toward others, and they  desire for everyone to experience God’s forgiveness.  Luke 5:31-32 says, “Jesus replied to them, ‘The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”  James MacDonald in Vertical Church says it this way, “The core of humanity’s sin problem is not a horizontal behavior to be corrected but a vertical relationship to be restored.”  A generous church is living on mission to deliver the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all.  That message is a message of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restored relationships!

     A healthy church is a generous church!