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Tithe.ly CEO Dean Sweetman unpacks how a key, neglected Bible passage revolutionizes church giving.
December 17, 2019
Today, I want to look at what the Bible has to say about giving. This is something that is critical to the health, life, and growth of your church. It's an area that I'm passionate about. It's the area of generosity, fundraising, and raising money in the local church to fulfill the mission that God has called us—every single one of us.
Let’s look at a classic passage: 2 Corinthians 8. Both chapter 8 and chapter 9 talk all about money, generosity, what we're supposed to do with it, and the attitude was supposed to have around it. But I want to break down a couple of these verses to really set up this thought: As a church leader, you are the number one person responsible for raising, growing, and increasing generosity in your church. If you're a teaching pastor, if you're an executive pastor, or if you're a senior pastor, you are the one that God has called to teach the people that God has entrusted into your care about money.
We know the Bible is loaded with passages about money. The role of the senior pastor and the executive pastor is to make sure the Bible is interpreted correctly. When it comes to this, it's the most important thing in people's lives.
As a pastor, you've probably counseled your way through a fair share of marriage trouble. Marriage problems usually comes back to one thing, and it's money or lack thereof. Teaching our people about money from the biblical perspective—teaching biblical economics—from Scripture is a critical thing. For too long, many church leaders have shied away from this topic. They've backed off. They've become timid.
My encouragement is for you to be bold, because the world has no problem talking about money. Businesses and companies have no problem selling their product and service to your church members. For this reason, it's critically important, as church leaders, that we teach about money.
But there's a certain skill that has to be learned by church leaders on how to teach about money. Let's take 2 Corinthians 8. It's a long passage: "Now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." (2 Cor. 8:1-2)
Giving begins with teaching our people that they are involved in something far greater than their personal circumstances—than their own lives. When you become a Christian, it's not just about you anymore. It's about others. It's certainly about God, but it's certainly about the body of Christ, and our role within the body of Christ.
When we teaching about giving, impulses that are very clearly in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is saying that this church in Macedonia is not actually that rich—they're actually kind of poor. But because of the revelation of who they are in the body of Christ, they're actually reaching into what they don't have, and they give anyway.
The Corinthian church was very rich, because Corinth was a massively huge trading city. We have a lot of historical data that tells us that Corinth was a very wealthy city. What Paul is trying to do is this: he's trying to teach the Corinthians to be generous. He wanted to get them to understand their responsibility in the area of generosity and giving. He sets this up by saying: "These Macedonians, they don't have anything." He's talking about the essence of being generous as a Christian—to give from our lack.
This leads Paul to say: "For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability." (2 Cor. 8:3) Paul makes a point here about excessive generosity—the ability to go over the top. When you're a believer, when you love Christ, when you’ve found your mission in life, when you're serving in your local church, it becomes about not how much you have, but how much God can get through you.
As Paul begins to expound through this chapter, he's talking about things such as: “Your love and affection isn't a substitute for giving.” We might hear people say: "Pastor, I come to church." Or, "I use this talent." That's great. We should all give our talents for God. But when it comes down to generosity, it's about giving financially. In Paul’s context, he's talking about giving money. We can't shy away from that. We can't back away from that.
As Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 8, line-by-line, he's talking about setting up the mindset of generosity. And I would say to pastors and church leaders: that's the most critical thing. When you're teaching on giving, you're trying to set people's hearts and minds to align with biblical truth when it comes to generosity and giving.
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly CEO Dean Sweetman breaks down what the Bible says about church giving.
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