There’s nothing quite like being on the receiving end of another’s generosity. Like many churches, the small church plant I’m a part of faced numerous challenges during the initial pandemic shutdown and its aftermath. Chief among them: Our congregation was left “homeless.” The community center where we’d been meeting before the shutdown was no longer a viable option for us, so we began searching for a place to gather for Sunday worship. The process was discouraging as each potential door closed: too expensive, wouldn’t fit the facility’s schedule, and so on.
But then we experienced generosity.
Another local church opened its doors to us. They offered us a large room in which to meet—and they offered it completely free of charge. I still find myself smiling in wonder and gratitude at this congregation’s ongoing generosity. It speaks volumes about their vision and their values.
Pastors can cultivate a spirit of generosity in their congregations by teaching on giving “with confidence and conviction,” writes Jay Y. Kim. Though money is certainly “one of the most challenging and complex realities” for pastors to address, Kim says, “leaders must begin with a firm conviction that generosity is the path to freedom.”
This CT Pastors issue explores generosity alongside other core issues tied to money and stewardship, including tithing, giving apps, the pandemic’s impact on churches, and how pastors can teach on and think deeply about God’s provision.
While some of the contemporary challenges pastors face may seem new, leaders throughout Christian history also grappled with “the vexed questions surrounding money and the church,” writes Jennifer Woodruff Tait, and their insights still resonate today. One standout is this discipleship principle from John Wesley: “Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.”
Give all you can. Scripture includes many examples of this sort of generosity, from the women who financially supported Jesus’ ministry to Zacchaeus, who gave half of his possessions to the poor, to the Macedonian Christians, who despite “extreme poverty” showed “rich generosity” and gave “even beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:2–3). And, most importantly of course, is the example of our Savior, who epitomizes total and complete generosity—not only in his willing sacrifice on the cross (John 10:18) but also in the Incarnation itself (Phil. 2:6–8). Divine generosity is at the very heart of the gospel.
When Christ is Lord of our lives, we learn daily to surrender our wealth and possessions to him for his purposes. As we follow the way of Jesus, may generosity be an ever more evident fruit of discipleship in our lives and in our churches. Because there’s nothing quite like being on the receiving end of the ultimate act of generosity.