Discipleship is vital to creating a healthy church. When we think of discipleship, we often think of particular spiritual disciplines: Bible study, worship, Scripture memory, serving, etc.
Often, as a pastor, I will address these disciplines from the pulpit and encourage the congregation to practice them in everyday life. Yet there was one spiritual gift I consistently avoided, especially in the pulpit—giving.
In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul reminds the Church to give generously the “blessing” or “gift” given in gratitude for spiritual blessings. Paul then writes, “Now this I say, he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
With this Scripture, it became clear to me, giving is a spiritual discipline as well. Giving deserves our attention from the Scriptures, in our pulpits, and in our small groups. The act of giving needs to be encouraged and talked about from the senior pastor.
Since the Lord impressed upon my heart the nature of giving as a spiritual discipline, I have been more intentional in my expressions of helping my church understand why it is important. I would like to give you four ways you can emphasize giving among the church.
1. Preach an annual sermon series focused on giving. The Word of God is powerful and instructive to our lives, and it speaks distinctly about the act of giving. Passages such as Acts 2:44-47; Luke 11:13; Matthew 6:19-21; 1 John 3:16-18; Acts 20:35; Malachi 3:10-12 will help you establish a biblical precedence for giving among the congregation.
2. Remind the church about its missional impact through giving. If you are a Southern Baptist church and give through the Cooperative Program (CP), you are giving to missions as a church.
Depending on your CP percentage of giving, you can use statements such as “With every dollar you give, at least $.10 goes out to help support missionaries and seminary students in their work;” or “When you tithe, you are helping our church fulfill the Great Commission by joining with other Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program.”
3. Hold special giving days. Our church calls these “Dollar Days.” This is a special time when we encourage all congregation members, young and old, to bring at least a dollar bill to drop in the offering plate. This money is specifically designated for a clear purpose before the Sunday of giving. These days can help you to finish a special offering emphasis such as the Edna McMillan State Missions Offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, or can it be used for intentional mission or work in your community of church.
The idea isn’t as much about where the money goes as much as it is about teaching people to give. On a side note, be sure the offering plate is being passed down the aisles on Sundays. When we don’t pass it, we are teaching people that it is OK not to give.
4. Remind people of God’s generosity and how our giving is an action that resembles His. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” God has been so generous to us! We are called to be generous as well!