November 6, 2009

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations: Extravagant Generosity

The fifth and final part in our series through the book by Robert Schnase entitled, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. The topic is Extravagant Generosity. If you have any thoughts you would like to share, comment below.

Extravagant Generosity

"The money talk" really likes to do it or have to listen to it. Part of me wonders if it's because we aren't really sure how to address the issue. Schnase says that generosity is how a Christian demonstrates his or her unselfishness in a way that makes a positive impact for Christ (112). I think giving should be talked about in a way that helps people see it is simply one aspect of what it means to follow Christ. "Growing in the grace of giving is part of the Christian journey of faith, a response Christian disciples offer to God's call to make a difference in the world" (Schnase, 107).

Giving of ourselves (time, treasure and talents) helps us prioritize our lives. Being willing to practice giving provides us with a perspective that is outside ourselves, that sees others needs before our own. Just as Jesus did. It also helps us value the things that are truly valuable, to make heavenly things our "treasure" (Matthew 6:19-24). Paul tells Timothy that generosity helps us to take hold of "the life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:6-19).

So often when we talk about money, we put a heavy emphasis on tithing. I wonder if we are missing the point by doing that. I'm not saying giving 10% is wrong or bad but I'm not quite convinced that is the model we should be shooting for. The word "tithe" doesn't really show up in the New Testament and yet clearly Jesus emphasized the importance of sacrificial giving. What would happen if we focused on the idea of sacrificial giving instead of a certain %? Jesus doesn't tell the rich young man to give 10%, instead He tells him to give all he has (Matthew 19:16-24). I'm thinking this might be another post for another time...


Meg B said...

I like your thought process. I've recently visited a UMC and non-denom church, and both happened to give the tithe/money talks. What I really enjoyed was some concepts Pastor Mark shared ( but I think you're right - we shouldn't focus on a percent - but rather on sacrificial tithing. It's always harder to put your trust in God when you can't see the end result.

Matt Lipan said...

Meg B: thanks for the read and comment.

did you like the UMC and Batterson's church when you visited? i'd be curious to hear what those tithe/money talks were like.

i guess i'm wondering if tithing (giving 10%) could somehow actually limit our giving. i'm still thinking through this.

like you said, not being able to see the end result can certainly make it tough to trust. that's what makes faith so crucial.

thanks for being willing to share. looking forward to hearing more.