Generosity From a Different Viewpoint

When a pastor begins to speak on generosity to his congregation,  many different feelings from whom he is speaking are brought up. Some accepting, some indifferent, some rejecting.

The difference between hears is complex, to say the least, with a wide variety of attitudes factored in the process of generosity. Notice I said “process.” Generosity is rarely a natural product of our fallen nature. Sure, I’m generous with the things I want…but what about what others may need, or what helps others. Generosity is generated by varying factors in a persons life.

Some may view a churches proclamation of “generosity” as a ploy to get more money and let’s be realistic, some are only really concerned with “the bottom line,” so to speak. Other churches are genuinely concerned with nurturing the spiritual process in the lives of their member of a dimension of giving which is supernatural.

With that said, please read the following article by Barna Research. It will speak volumes about generosity and hopefully liberate some from the shackles of stinginess to the freedom of giving.

https://www.barna.com/research/pastors-parishioners-differ-generosity/?utm_source=Barna+Update+List&utm_campaign=0954f296db-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8560a0e52e-0954f296db-172196777&mc_cid=0954f296db&mc_eid=b77b76614d

Why The Search For A Church That Meets Your Needs Is Futile By Carey Nieuwhof January 5, 2017

Any church leader who’s been in ministry for more than a few months has heard different variations of it:

I’m looking for a church that meets my needs.

What are you going to do to better meet my needs?

I’m leaving this church to find one that better suits my needs. 

The longer a Christian has been in church, the more likely it is that they’ve uttered a phrase or two like this from time to time.

I’m not against changing churches. I think everyone has one or maybe two church changes in them. Leaders change. The effectiveness of churches can vary in different seasons. And occasionally a church is downright toxic. I get that.

One or two church changes (when living in the same community) is understandable. And it’s completely different from serial church shopping, which for reasons I outline in this post, is a colossally bad phenomenon.

The problem is deeper, though, than changing churches (as big a decision as that is). It’s about the purpose of the quest. Should the criteria of a church meeting your needs be the reason you change churches? Well, what if the church was never intended to meet your needs? What if the furthest thing from God’s mind when he created the church was to meet your needs?

Here are 5 reasons why I believe trying to find a church that meets your needs is futile.

  1. A Church That Meets All Your Needs Is Probably Off-Mission

If a church ever meets all your needs as a Christian, it’s probably off-mission. Because the church was never designed to meet all your needs. It was designed for glorifying God and showing his love to the world.

A church that is only about meeting your needs is a church that’s focused on insiders while the world is quite literally going to hell.

The attitude that the church exists to meet the needs of members is one more remnant of consumer-Christianity, which is a strand of Western Christianity that continues to die. I outline why here (along with 5 other church trends to watch in 2017).

  1. You’ll Uproot All Your Non-Christian Friends

If you’re drifting from church to church to satisfy your needs, what happens to all the non-Christian friends you’re building into? Oh wait… that almost never comes up in conversations with Christians who demand their needs be met. Because they usually have zero non-Christian friends. Their idea of church isn’t about the mission. It’s about them.

Think about it. If you’re living out your faith and sincerely praying for friends who aren’t in a relationship with Christ, theoretically there are at least a handful of non-Christians who will be impacted by your move.

But usually, that’s not even on the radar screen of Christians who move to satisfy their needs. Because there are zero non-Christians involved.

  1. Christianity Was Never About Satisfying Yourself

The heart of the Christian faith isn’t about satisfying yourself, it’s about dying to yourself. If Christians stopped indulging their preferences and starting focusing on Christ and on helping others, the church would be so much healthier.

It’s strange, but the happiest and healthiest people aren’t those who are focused on meeting their own needs. As this Harvard Business School study shows, there is a demonstrated correlation between giving away time and money and experiencing a feeling of happiness.

Perhaps it’s because that’s exactly how God designed us. Because when we give, we get.

  1. Your “Needs “Aren’t Usually Needs

To be fair, we all have a few basic needs. A church should be biblically faithful. It should be reasonably healthy. And it should focus on the true mission of the church, which is to make disciples (not just be disciples but make disciples, which means reaching out).

When someone says that a church doesn’t meet their needs, what they usually mean is a church doesn’t suit their preferences.

When you drill down, ‘needs’ often means:

Is this my kind of music?

Did the people notice me?

Do I like this place?

A lot of Christians these days ask, “Did I like it?” And the moment they don’t, they’re done. When no church meets your needs, maybe you should check your ‘needs.’

If you really boil it down, because of the rise of consumer Christianity, too many church members think their mission is to criticize. A church member’s mission isn’t to criticize. It’s to contribute. Criticizing has never been the Gospel. And that’s never the best contribution we can make.

  1. Your Needs Are Never Satisfied

Needs are like appetites. They grow when you feed them. You probably already know this, but if you’re always trying to satisfy your needs, you’ll never be satisfied.

We all roll our eyes at the guy who ‘needs’ a new car, or a new computer, or a vacation, or a new phone when he pretty much has the latest (okay…confession…I can be that guy when it comes to tech….).

The truth? Those aren’t needs. But that’s the problem with what we call needs. They’re never completely satisfied.

So What Should You Do?

So what should you do if you feel your current church doesn’t ‘meet your needs’? Maybe the best thing you can do is focus on the mission God has given you. Which happens to look an awful lot like the mission God gave all of us: to love the world for which he died.

Chances are there’s a pastor who loves that mission, and maybe some other Christians in your church who are committed to that mission too.

And if you give your life to it, you’ll discover your needs don’t matter nearly as much as they once did. In fact, you might even find them satisfied.

If you take your eyes off what you want and begin to see what other people truly need, it will change how you live.

What Can We Then Do?

As a follow-up to my last article…let’s try to answer the question; “What can we do when people reject the truth and those who teach Truth because character doesn’t align with the Truth taught?”

When people inside the church can be cruel (a terrible thing, but it happens) those who experience these ungodly attitudes, become wounded and can’t move past the hurt.

Yes, we are human and have many flaws. One of these major flaws is when Truth doesn’t match our profession of Truth.

Let’s get real; we make mistakes, people mess up because they are messed up! Our mistakes may be public—or at least our mistakes are known by others—and the place where grace should take place doesn’t. Why? Those who teach Truth are supposed to be transformed by it. When Transformation doesn’t accompany our profession, those who see it may refuse what we have to say.

Let’s take a look at Paul’s instruction Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12; “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”(NASB)

It is a fight to continually live Truth out in our lives. The conflict between our flesh (the old nature i.e. sanctification) and how we ought to live, continues until the flesh dies. When our character doesn’t equate perception than reality, but the way a person feels about themselves may determine whether they remain committed to living in Truth.

I believe that in certain areas of our lives, we live by perception rather than reality. The way a person feels about themselves (subjective truth vs. objective truth) may determine whether they remain committed to living in Truth.

This is what derails others when they see the dichotomy, the contradiction between Truth and reality.

My next post will address the offense of contradiction.

 

Truth Rejected Because of Character

Have you ever heard of someone (maybe you) was hurt, disappointed by leaders or the church. Why? It may be because Truth and character (behavior) didn’t match, the truth preached or taught didn’t align itself, not modeled by those who professed the truth.

Those that were on the receiving end of these actions, rather than separate disappointment or hurtful behavior from Truth, mix both into one big bag,

Truth was rejected along with those whose lives didn’t representative the Truth. This rejection by those who saw the divide, brought disappointment with all those associated, dismissing the Truth.

Some are so hurt they rejected the God of Truth, becoming agnostic or atheistic, hostile to God and his representatives.

To Summarize: Lack of (or bad) character can sabotage your efforts to present the truth.

Rejection of the truth and those who are its advocates results from character not aligning with the Truth.

Daring Greatly

Former Lead Pastor, Bethel Family Christian Center

 

Teaching how to avoid both complacent and obsessive Christianity.

Daring Greatly…this site is about being no longer limited and bound by man-made limits, but releasing us into God’s limitlessness.
Everyone is looking to be someone special failing to recognize we are only pursuing man-made limitations trading our God-given purposes for the approval and limitations of men. This, unfortunately, becomes our search for significance. Our significance is found in our normalcy of the ordinariness of a supernatural life found only in the personhood of Jesus Christ.

God’s Love is Personal

Colossians 3:12-17; “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Have you had moments when you decided that you were going to walk in love instead of offense or anger? When you make the right choice; it’s a victorious moment.

The phrase “put on” is a translation of the Greek word enduo, a common term that was used in New Testament times to denote the act of putting on a garment or a piece of clothing.

In the same way, Paul says we are to “put on love.” This word for “love” is the Greek word agape — a complex term that I call high-level love because there is no higher, finer, or more excellent love than agape love.

Agape kind of love happens when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, and appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this object or person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. Such great respect is awakened in the heart of the viewer for the object or person he is seeing that he is compelled to love. In fact, his love for that person or object is so strong that it is irresistible. If necessary, agape love will even sacrifice itself for the benefit of that object or person it so deeply cherishes. Thus, agape is the highest form of love — a self-sacrificial type of love that moves one to action.

In 1 John 3:16, we are urged to possess agape for each other. It says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

This plainly means that we are to love and appreciate each other just as fully and freely as God loves us.

The Father loved us to the point of self-sacrifice. In the same way, we also agape our brothers and sisters to such a great extent that we would be willing to lay down our lives for them or forgive them for wrongs we perceive they have committed against us. We are to love others with no strings attached.

So refuse to let anger, frustration, and intolerance rule you — and take this command of God very seriously. Slip on the garment of agape love, and keep it on! God is love; in fact, it’s the very essence of who He is. And just as Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father’s love (see John 15:9), so are you called to be a reflection of Jesus’ love. 1 John 4:17 declares, “…As he is, so are we in this world”!

In contrast: Eros’ love is a self-seeking love.

Stergo’s love is limited only to one’s family.

Phileo’s love is based on mutual satisfaction and can feel disappointed.

Agape is a love that has no strings attached. It isn’t looking for what it can get, but for what it can give. It’s awe of the one who is loved is so deep that it is compelled to shower love upon that object or person regardless of the response. This is the profound love God has for the human race, for He loved man when he was still lost in sin with no ability to love Him back. God simply loved mankind without any thought or expectation of receiving love in return.