From an article on The Ooze:

Our house church has been thriving now for over 2 years and I can honestly say I’ve not once had to preach a sermon on tithing or giving, and yet our small gathering gave thousands of dollars to the help the poor in our community last year. In fact, we’re on track to double last year’s amount, and I’ve never had to beg or plead for our members to dig deep or give more. Why is this? What’s the big difference?

The simple fact is that our people can tangibly connect every dollar and penny they give with how it directly assists people in need. We keep nothing for ourselves and give all of the money we receive away to the poor. When our members connect their dollars with actual people receiving assistance they are glad to give all that they can to help others.

This is an interesting thought here. I have talked with pastor after pastor and when the conversation turns to issues of financing our mission, its usually a conversation around how “things are tight” and “we’re struggling.”  Now, what I am not about to say is that we never struggle financially at The Well, but I am about to say that we have a similarly generous community as this person is describing above. I am continually amazed at the generosity of our church.  It’s really inspiring.

Now this person is writing from a house church perspective and perhaps the most interesting thing that he says is that, “The simple fact is that our people can tangibly connect every dollar and penny they give with how it directly assists people in need.”

Shouldn’t this be true of every church!?  I mean seriously? Shouldn’t it?

Ken Callahan, author, a mentor of mine and one of the key consultants for the Salvation Army (who, by the way, receive the most charitable giving of any other non-profit organization by a large margin) recently told me that charitable giving is actually up in America.  Charitable giving in the church?  Down.  There is a problem here isn’t there?  If part of growing a generous community is connecting every dollar we spend to people actually in need, the church should be the best at this.  I really believe that.  I mean, if i didn’t, I wouldn’t be a pastor.

I think the problem here is one of two options:

  1. Our leaders are not clearly teaching our communities how the gifts that they give are changing lives and changing the world.
  2. The gifts that our communities are giving are not actually changing the world and our mission is not actually that compelling.

I’ll be wiling to argue that it’s probably a combination of both. I think that most of our churches are really doing some amazing things and far too often when we talk about financial giving in our churches we do a terrible job of connecting how the organization spends its money with the impact these gifts are having.  I also am more than willing to admit that our churches are downright wasting money on things that don’t really matter.

Both of these issues are a big problem.

At The Well, when I stand up to introduce offering every week I do my best to connect the gifts that we are about share with each other to how they are being used for the sake of the Kingdom.  Its a good check for me as a leader. If I can’t point to how the gifts are being used, I better not be asking our people to participate in giving. I really believe that.

Questions I have to ask myself:

  • Is the part-time salaries we are paying our staff resulting in kingdom work?
  • Is the building we are paying for each month being used for kingdom work?
  • Is the way we are spending our money really being used for kingdom work?

I, for one, believe that Kingdom work is being done at The Well and with good conciouse I can invite people to share in this mission together with their finances.  The moment I stop believing that we are doing good will be the moment I can’t stand in front of my community with integrity and invite them to give.

So, we go back to what Ken Callahan said about charitable giving being up in the States and down in the Church.  Why? Perhaps its because a) these organziations are doing better at teaching their constituints how their gifts are making a difference and b) these organizations are actually making a difference…

Is your community making a difference?

Is it clear how your community is making a difference?

I believe that our churhes are making a difference.  I also believe that each and everyone (including The Well!) can do better at making a difference.  I also really believe that as leaders, we need to do a better job of teaching our communties how their gifts are really making a difference for the sake of the Kingdom.

All that to say, Giving is only as strong as your mission.