How Amazon Changed Church Giving Forever
Amazon (and eCommerce) has changed church giving forever. Here's what you need to know and how your church can respond before you get left behind.
January 22, 2020
Chris Sonksen, author of "Quit Church," shares three ways giving is good for you.
August 27, 2018
As a pastor, it breaks my heart to see people miss out on the joy and blessing of giving. God wants so much for your life and wants to give you so much. He is looking for a partnership between you and him.
One of my favorite examples of giving is the life and ministry of George Müller. He was the founder of the orphanage at Ashley Down, which housed over ten thousand children during his life. In addition, Pastor Müller established 117 schools that over 120,000 students attended, with a large portion of those students being orphans. He did all of this without ever asking for funding and without ever going into debt.
He was a firm believer in the Scriptures that speak of God’s blessing as you walk in his will. He gave of his life, time, and resources because he followed what God said, and in return, God poured out his favor and provision. Simply put, George Müller gave, and God blessed. That’s how it works.
We give, and he gives back.
We let go of what’s in our hands, and he lets go of what’s in his.
Every time the offering bucket goes by and we don’t honor him through the tithe, we are leaving so much on the table. There’s an abundance of God’s goodness and riches that he desires to pour into our lap, and we pass it by every time we let the offering plate pass us by.
When you give as God requires you to, you don’t lose, you win. Here are just a few examples of how you win.
God is a giver.
He loves to give.
It’s not just something he does; it’s who he is.
He is a God of extreme generosity.
I think of all the blessings in my life: my wife, my children, my family, the country I live in, the home I have, the finances that have been provided to me, the places I’ve traveled, the things I’ve seen, the car I drive, the freedom I experience—the list can literally go on and on.
The list could go on for you as well.
Sure, we’ve all had hard times, but we are blessed by the Creator.
Genesis 1:27 tells us that “God created human beings in his own image.” The word “image” comes from the Hebrew word tselem, meaning something like “his drawing or his representation.” Genesis is telling us that we are created in his outline. We are traced from his image.
Have you ever put your hand on a piece of paper and traced your hand? The tracing is the exact shape of your hand. This is what the Scripture is teaching us. We are the exact tracing of God. We are made to imitate his character. So if he is an extravagant, generous God, then we are to be extravagantly generous as well. Giving makes us like God.
I’ve seen a lot of people who aren’t Christian who are incredibly generous. What they do not realize is that they are made in God’s image and are simply tracing his character.
If you’re a Christian, then you have to realize that you can give and not be a Christ follower, but you can’t follow Christ and not give. It doesn’t work. It actually doesn’t make any sense.
If you follow God, if you imitate his character, if you strive to be in his likeness, you have to give. It’s who he is, and because he is a giver, we are to be givers as well.
Remember, you are tselem; you are an outline of God.
When we think of the word “worship,” we typically think of singing, especially singing the slower songs, and maybe raising our hands and closing our eyes. But worship is much more than that.
To worship means that we put the object of our worship above us. It’s an act of obedience to God that says, “You’re way above me.” Worship happens when we choose to forgive when we’d rather stay angry, when we choose to love when we’d rather hate, and when we choose to give when we’d rather spend that money on other things.
We obey him and follow what he says because he is first in our life. He is the voice of authority and the final word. That’s what it means to worship him.
This is why giving is such an important part of our worship. It is an act of obedience. It is letting God know that he genuinely has first place in our life. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you” (Message).
Throughout Scripture, God teaches on the subject of tithing, giving, and extravagant generosity. The first established church in the book of Acts was known more for its generosity than for its theology.
Often, we want to justify our lack of obedience in the area of giving by pointing out the other areas in which we have exercised obedience, as if obedience is some sort of multiple choice. This is selective obedience, picking and choosing the areas in which we will and will not follow Christ.
If he is not Lord of all, then he is not Lord at all.
You can’t pick and choose.
Think about that in the context of a marriage.
You can’t say, “I will love you, but I’m not going to honor you” or “I will honor you, but I’m not going to be faithful to you.” You can’t pick and choose in a marriage, to follow only a portion of the vow you committed to. It doesn’t work in a marriage, and it doesn’t work in a relationship with Christ.
The Bible says that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). This means that the enemy will disguise his voice. He will make you feel like what he is saying is good and right, when the truth is that he is only pulling you away from what God wants from you and for you.
We might say different things to ourselves:
God understands why I don’t give.
God sees my heart.
I give through my time.
My volunteering is my tithe.
I may not tithe, but I give to those I see in need.
I’ve seen churches misuse money, so I’m not going to give to my church.
All of these thoughts seem logical, not like a heart of disobedience, and that’s exactly what the angel of light wants you to believe. But the truth is that none of these are a reason to not tithe to the church you attend. None of them excuse you from the responsibility Jesus has placed on you to honor him with our personal finances.
Again Jesus said, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you” (John 14:15 Message). This request of Jesus is about worship. “If you love me, then give as I have asked you to. Do what I have told you.”
If you struggle in this area, if reading this makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you to step out. Just do it. Start now. Begin to follow Christ through your giving, and I promise you, he will not let you down. He is ready to pour out his blessing on those who trust in him.
My wife and I live near the beach in Southern California. Over the last few years, I have taken up surfing. I say that to people, and they say, “Wow, that sounds cool.” But you haven’t seen me surf; it isn’t that cool. I am lousy at it, but I love it.
You paddle out and then sit on your board and wait for the next set of waves. If you have ever surfed, ridden a boogie board, or bodysurfed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You wait for a set of waves to come, and you take one in.
There have been countless waves over the years that I wish I would have taken but that I let go by me. You feel like you have missed out on such a good opportunity when you see the perfect wave go by. It’s frustrating, because you feel like that wave was designed just for you, and for whatever reason, you let it go by.
In the same way, there are blessings that God has perfectly designed for you, a treasure that only he can provide. Each time we don’t honor him by tithing, it’s like missing the perfect wave—we miss out on something so good.
The financial area of our Christian life is the same way. God expects you to do your part, to tithe faithfully, and then he will do his part by fulfilling his promise. In Malachi 3:10 God says that he will open up the windows of heaven and bless your life.
You paddle, he blesses.
That’s how it works.
Editor’s Note: Taken from Quit Church: Because Your Life Would Be Better if You Did by Chris Sonksen. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission.