I have the privilege of serving on staff at one of the most generous churches anywhere. This year we set a ridiculously large goal for our Christmas Missions Offering – $300,000. As of last Sunday, we’re just $40,000 away from hitting it.
Our people simply respond well to the call to give. Whether it’s turkeys for the Durham Rescue Mission or coats for students at Neal Middle School or school supplies for teachers at Eastway Elementary, they just give. And give. And give.
And it’s not just structured giving – the kind where somebody stands up and tells a sad story and shows pictures of sick kittens and plays a Sarah McLachlan song and then asks people to empty their pockets and maybe sell a vital organ and then go dig a well. No, this culture of generosity goes deeper than a corporate call and digs into the heart of individual mission.
It’s the small group raising money to pay for an uninsured surgery. It’s the campus staff gathering funds to fill a family’s propane heater before winter. It’s the sound tech arranging for a sound system to be loaned to a school for their Christmas program. It’s the young professionals who host an auction to fund a ministry to street kids in Rwanda.
It’s the donated car. The extra gifts under a single mom’s Christmas tree. The sack of groceries on the front porch. The generous tip to a restaurant server.
Yesterday in our weekly staff meeting, Pastor J.D. reminded us that generosity breeds generosity. As a church staff, we can never make the mistake of leading our people to only give corporately, and only to church-sanctioned projects. To do so is not only selfish, it’s ultimately self-sabotage. Even if we are giving away the money that we collect, we’re still driving our people towards one or two or three ways to give.
How much better to empower people to see a need in their community and fill it. How much better for a small group to find a family and take care of them. How much better for a businessman to take on a ministry and fund it.
When we drive our people to believe that there’s only one way to give and one place to give, we stifle the gift of grace and the creative nature of God in their lives. But when we release them into a culture of generosity, that generosity will breed more generosity.
When we’re being generous at the individual level, we’re giving not because we’re guilted to, but because we get to. We’re not giving because of a tax credit. We’re not giving because of a giant thermometer on the auditorium wall that tells us how far we have to go to reach our Hallelujah Goal. We’re giving quietly…secretly…anonymously. We’re giving because we’ve been the recipients of the majestic grace of Jesus, and that generous grace breeds generous grace.
So today, let’s end with two questions…
- What is an area where you can be radically generous this Christmas season?
- What is the most generous thing that anyone has ever done for you? (comment on that one below)