Generosity has been a healthy mark of our church’s health in the past, and it continues to be a mark of health today.
As a pastor, there are lots of ways to measure the health of a church. A pastor looks for several marks of health—a healthy church offers solid teaching that is grounded in the scriptures; earnestly worships and prays, asking for more of God’s presence; preaches the Gospel of Jesus; serves the marginalized and those in need; works justice for the oppressed; is warm and loving and welcoming to outsiders. I could go on and on. Another marker that is abundantly evident at Vineyard Columbus is the mark of financial generosity. Icouldn’’t be more grateful for the generosity of this amazing church! In our sermon series, Gathered: The Power of Proximity, I preached a message about how the Holy Spirit empowers generosity. I shared that our church’s giving has been down around 13% from our pre-COVID giving. This was not unexpected, and by God’s grace, we were able to cut expenses so we could focus on making a difference with what God has provided. I spoke about how the early disciples in the book of Acts became the most generous people in the world(Acts 4:31-37). I specifically asked the church:
• If you are not yet giving anything, would you begin to give some portion of your income regularly?
• If you are already giving a portion regularly, would you pray about moving toward a full Tithe?
• If you are already Tithing, would you consider going above and beyond by joining our Kingdom Builders ministry? (Kingdom Builders is a group of folks from Vineyard Columbus who have decided to give beyond a Tithe to targeted projects to move God’s kingdom forward.)
I was so encouraged because many of you immediately stepped up!I received emails from people expressing interest in joining Kingdom Builders. Others increased their giving. And, most encouraging of all, dozens and dozens of people started to give to God through Vineyard Columbus for the first time. What a blessing! Generosity has been a healthy mark of ourchurch’’s health in the past, and it continues to be a mark of health today. Thank you church for stepping up in this season to pursue the generosity of the Kingdom! Years ago, our founding PastorRich Nathan, sharedTenGood Reasons to Give, and I want to share it with you again:
TEN GOOD REASONS TO GIVE. GIVING IS...
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE JOY
God is a giver. Anytime we imitate God and do the works that He does, e.g., share our faith, forgive another person who has sinned against us, pray for a sick person, or give financially, we are tapping into the very life and being of God. People who hoard never have an opportunity to experience God’s life. Only givers can experience the joy of God.
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW GRATITUDE TO GOD
God has blessed each one of us with a variety of blessings: material wellbeing, family, church, work, health, etc. How many other ways do we really have to say “thank you” to God other than to return to Him a portion of what He has given us? Simply stated, giving is an opportunity for us to say to God, “Thank you!”
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN ALL THE MINISTRIES OF A LARGE CHURCH
Churches are involved in a wide number of ministries that no one person could, by themselves, do or invest time in. For example, Vineyard gives a substantial amount of money each month to support church planting in many countries, to build a Vineyard presence at Ohio State University, and to feed hundreds of people a month in downtown Columbus. No one of us could do all this alone, but a person who lives here has an opportunity to participate in all the ministries of Vineyard.
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICALLY ACKNOWLEDGE OUR VIEW OF LIFE
Either the money that we control is ours, which is a secular worldview, or all of our money belongs to God. True, only a portion of our time and only some of our money will be specifically designated for God and for His church, but all the rest ought to be dedicated to Him, used according to His will, and devoted to things that honor Him.
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT WHAT WE BELIEVE IN
One of the best ways for a person to support a cause that they believe in is to give money to that cause. Political organizations and various groups supporting certain rights certainly understand the importance of financing. Of course, financial giving is not the only way to support something. Giving our time, praying for that cause, and supporting it with encouragement are all other valid ways to support a cause; but giving financially is certainly one major way to support what we believe in.
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE FREE FROM FINANCIAL ANXIETY
Many people are anxious about their financial futures because they haven’t learned about the paradoxical nature of the Christian life. People who hold tightly to their money will be in bondage to financial concerns. People who open their hands freely in giving will experience emotional liberty in financial matters. Jesus was not a wealthy man, yet He was a man who had tremendous financial peace.
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO PAY FOR SERVICES THAT WE AND OUR FAMILIES RECEIVE
It is an extraordinary thing that many of us receive services such as counseling, training for our children, teaching, and opportunities to participate in ministry and yet allow others to pay for the services we receive. Someone is picking up the bill for the lights, heat, pastoral salaries, mortgage, and materials that we all enjoy. If you are able to financially give (and almost everyone in Vineyard is able to give) and you are not giving, then someone else is paying the freight for you.
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO RECEIVE FINANCIAL BLESSING FROM GOD
God challenges us to put Him to the test. He says in Malachi 3, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” In many ways, I am hesitant to call attention to this great and awesome promise of God for a financial blessing, yet the truth of my own experience is this: I have never met a tither whom God has not provided for financially. This promise from the book of Malachi is one of those promises that God is very quick to fulfill. Tithing does produce financial blessing from God!
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO STORE UP TREASURE IN HEAVEN
God takes note of everything we do in secret for Him such as our secret prayer, our secret fasting, or our secret giving (Mt. 6). Whether there is a huge payoff here on earth (the book of Malachi tells us there is an earthly payoff) there will certainly be a heavenly payoff for those who give financially toward the work of God’s kingdom.
- AN OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE BEYOND ME AND MY OWN FAMILY
“Us four...no more”, “God bless me...that’s as far as I can see” is not what Christianity is about. If the only thing I pay for is my own children’s Christian school or things that directly bless me such as my own home furnishings, or my own family and my friends, then Jesus says I am no better than the Gentiles. Non-Christians pay for their own children’s education and give generously to their friends and family besides. Christian giving is different because it involves sowing beyond ourselves and our own circle.