Strive for One-Kingdom Living

Is your congregation stuck seeing generosity as what they cannot give rather than why or how they give?

Generosity is a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values, and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with recognition of God as Creator of all things, and our position as steward of some things.

As stewards, we are in charge of the possessions God has given us – an authority that is real, but secondary to God’s ultimate ownership.

When we get these two ownerships mixed up, problems follow.

Solution: Strive for One Kingdom Living

 

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Development 101, by John R. Frank and R. Scott Rodin

In our 60 years of combined experience with faith-based non-profits we have seen a lack of a comprehensive, biblically based, fundamentally sound, development strategy.

We see at least four main reasons for this situation. First, far too few ministries have taken the time to think through and create a theology of development that serves as a rule and guide for all of their work in raising kingdom resources. The result is that the demands for money, rather than Scripture, dictate the techniques used for fundraising. Second, many organizations set unrealistic goals and expectations for their development team. When they are not reached, the ministry makes a change and tries again. Third, we see a serious lack of integration in development work. Ministries take a shotgun approach, trying all sorts of different ways to reach income goals, but far too seldom take a comprehensive, strategic approach that serves the giving partners not just the organization. Finally, we experience consistent misunderstanding and confusion over the board’s role in development work, compounded by an inability by the board to develop metrics for measuring effectiveness and success in raising funds based on kingdom principles.

This book is our attempt to address these concerns and provide development professionals with a tool that can help them build robust, God-honoring development programs.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Generosity success is 100% impossible without embracing this valuable principle: God owns everything. We are stewards of a small few things that God owns. God owns your life, your salvation, your uniqueness, your calling, your job, your body, your car, your bank account, your cash, and your television.

It is God’s responsibility to provide for you, your church and family, not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to release ownership and be an obedient steward.

We were created to be one-kingdom people. That is, God created and redeemed us to be children in His kingdom where He and He alone is Lord.

 As one-kingdom people, we know that everything belongs to God, and we respond by living as faithful stewards. The problem of sin is that it tempts us to build a second kingdom where we play the lord over the things we believe we own and control. It could be said that the entire cosmic battle between good and evil is played out in this arena of two-kingdom living. When we submit to the temptation to believe we are in control of our own kingdom, we treat money as something that we ultimately own. When we do this, we cannot be faithful, generous stewards.

Jesus summed it up with razor precision: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

As we go about our development work, we must realize that every one of our giving partners struggles with this two-kingdom temptation. Our work as Christian development professionals is to be used by God to help our giving partners recommit themselves to being one-kingdom people. This may sound like a huge responsibility, and indeed it is. For this reason we believe strongly that development work is ministry. Let us say that again. Rather than seeing your development work as a means for raising the resources necessary for ministry to happen, we want you to reconsider that your development work is ministry. You have a wonderful opportunity to watch God use you in powerful ways in the lives of your giving partners. Once you make this commitment, it will affect everything you do in this field: your messaging, your planning, your budgeting, your writing, your strategy, your metrics, and your prayer life.

Does your organization operate from a two-kingdom or one-kingdom worldview?

John R. Frank and Scott Rodin, Development 101: Building a Comprehensive Development Program on Biblical Values

A NEXT STEP

Think of yourself as the manager of a trust. You have been given a key role and a great responsibility, so make the most of it. God Himself has trusted you with time, money, material things, and great opportunities. Your objective is to maximize the investment of all that has been put into your hands. Take some time to examine the three gauges of how you are managing God’s investment: your calendar, your bank account, and your spiritual gifts.

In light of the one-kingdom principle, how would you grade yourself in each area? What is one thing you can do in the next few weeks to better your One-Kingdom GPA one point?

In the final analysis, the hallmark of stewardship is administration not acquisition. Only by pursuing the goal of pleasing God do we find true pleasure and satisfaction for ourselves.

 


Because a giving God expects a giving people, the generous Christian should be a joyous giver. We give as an expression of our new nature and life in Christ.

When our focus strays from this truth, a resentful attitude will not be far behind. You serve a generous God; remember to strive for one-kingdom living.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 30-1 published December 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

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Shift the Focus of Your Communication from Transaction to Transformation

How do I lead the process of heart transformation necessary to grow generous givers who are rich toward God?

Talking about giving in church is undoubtedly one of the senior leader’s least favorite activities.

When you want to talk about developing generous givers, all your congregation sees is dollar signs.

You are frustrated because the giving pattern of your congregation seems more like tipping than tithing.

You want to help your congregation grow into a lifestyle of generous giving rather than making occasional commitments.

It’s time for a shift in focus…

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THE QUICK SUMMARY – A Revolution in Generosity, Wes Willmer, Editor

“Give over $100 today and get this personalized state-of-the-art fountain pen free!” “Become a gold sponsor and your name will be featured on our exclusive Wall of Fame!” “Send in your donation by December 31st and enjoy the benefits of giving on your next tax return!” Who hasn’t heard fundraising gimmicks like these? Or, who hasn’t used these gimmicks on others?

As Wes Willmer writes, generosity is the natural outcome of God’s transforming work in individuals when they are conformed to the image of Christ. Fundraising and giving are not simply drops in the bucket. Capital campaigns and raising funds go deeper than the money. They are spiritual activities in becoming more like Christ.

A Revolution in Generosity is a work by some of the best scholars and practitioners on the subject of funding Christian organizations. As Willmer writes, “The foundation for realizing a revolution in generosity is understanding the biblical view of possessions, generosity, and asking for resources.” With over twenty expert contributors, this book is a must-read for organizations striving to rid themselves of secular, asking practices and gain an eternal approach.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Successful revolutions require a plan. Successful revolutions in generosity require a plan that is both strategic and spiritual, delivering a passionate message to both heart and mind.

It is all too easy to get lost in the nuts and bolts of generosity – the “transactions” between giver and the church. Foundational to the idea of a revolution in generosity is the “transformation” needed in the giver’s life and actions.

 Rather than merely advancing the cause of your organization, your ultimate goal must be to challenge people to conform to the image of Christ, who is generous.

To change the way your constituents live as well as give, you must develop a spiritual and strategic communications plan for your ministry. As a framework for your plan, there are six basic components:

Who – The communicator of the message. Change within an organization starts with the leader. When you grasp head knowledge about stewardship and apply biblical principles in your life, your personal character grows and your actions and words send a message about stewardship.

 

What – The content of the message. The topic of possessions and the Christian’s role as steward of them is a central theme in Scripture. God has much to say regarding our stuff. Because of this, we have plenty of material from which to craft our biblical stewardship message.

 

Where – The target audiences of the message. You must understand your audiences in order to deliver appropriate messages. Each ministry should prioritize its communication to deliver to three main sets of constituents: internal publics, religiously oriented publics, and external publics.

 

Why – Four objectives. To facilitate the growth of generous givers is to exhort constituents to be conformed to the image of Christ and thereby participate with God in His work. For this reason, your spiritual and strategic communication should seek to accommodate the objectives of intercession, involvement, instruction, and investment.

 

When – Consistently communicating the message. In order for our constituents to be transformed by the biblical stewardship message, your organization should consistently and regularly share spiritual principles that instruct them to be conformed to the image of Christ.

 

How – The channels of communication. There are four general channels of communication:

  • Electronic media such as e-communications, social media, and websites sharing specific opportunities for participation

  • Printed materials such as articles and magazines

  • Direct main containing communication without manipulation

  • Verbal communication such as meetings, events, and programs which give clear and direct presentation of giving opportunities.

– Gary G. Hoag, contributor, Revolution in Generosity

A NEXT STEP

The six components listed above can serve as a practical manual for establishing a program that communicates stewardship principles and ignites a revolution in generosity in your church.

Prior to your next leadership team meeting, duplicate and distribute the six components listed above. Ask your team to study the components and be prepared to discuss them.

At the team meeting, ask team members to rank each of the six components with one being most important and six being least important. Add up all the scores to come up with a group ranking of most to least important.

For the most important component, discuss actions, timelines, and goals for that component. Using the 100-80 Rule (where 100 percent of the group feels 80 percent good), determine next steps by ranking the actions. One month after launching the first component, take 30 minutes in a team meeting to evaluate effectiveness, and make adjustments as necessary.

Two months after launching the first component, launch the second one following the process outlined above. Repeat every two months with succeeding components.

After one year, evaluate all the components in place. Continue to refine and adjust them, making them a regular part of your systems and processes.


Self-seeking ownership and hoarding are the natural inclinations of mankind, but God calls his children to a higher, simpler standard: Be rich toward God. You can lead your church through concrete and practical ways to a God-honoring approach of providing resources for your ministry.

Taken from SUMS Remix 17-3, published June 2015.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

Generosity Starts with the Heart, Not the Checkbook

Is your congregation stuck seeing generosity as what they cannot give rather than why or how they give?

Generosity is a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values, and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with recognition of God as Creator of all things, and our position as steward of some things.

As stewards, we are in charge of the possessions God has given us – an authority that is real, but secondary to God’s ultimate ownership.

When we get these two ownerships mixed up, problems follow.

One solution to help you grow and develop generous givers in your church is by encouraging them to examining their heart first before you ask them to give.

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THE QUICK SUMMARY – Generosity: Moving Toward a Life that is Truly Life

How would you like to raise the tide of generosity in your life and in your church while discovering greater spiritual maturity through giving?

Generosity was designed to help you do just this. Churches are using Generosity in powerful, creative ways to change the money conversation. People give generously when they reflect on God s generosity, and this book will help you and your church do just that.

Let award-winning author Gordon MacDonald show you how in this four-week devotional, with 100,000 copies in print, that uses Scripture to demonstrate God’s desire for each of us to live a generous life. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Giving is such a sacred and worshipful act that it should not be thwarted by a person’s wrong relationship to another. God so values showing mercy and achieving reconciliation that it justifies temporarily postponing the act of giving. This makes the gift and the worship more meaningful to the individual and more pleasing to God.

God seeks generous givers. But, first, He seeks generous givers whose hearts are right with Him and with others.

Jesus puts a condition on gifts in Matthew 5:23:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.”

Here is Christ, in effect, saying that giving must be preceded by certain actions that are inherently spiritual and relational. In fact, He appears to be discouraging giving if one has not given careful attention to other issues…such as the quality of relationship between the would-be giver and his or her “brother.” You have approached the altar with your gift, He says, and suddenly you are caused to remember that there is a broken relationship out there….with your “brother.”

In this case the “brother” may be a relative, a friend, a working colleague. You’ve offended him; there is a significant breach in your relationship. Before you can give, you must repair the relational damage. Jesus’ remedy: Leave the gift in front of the altar, find your “brother,” reconcile, and then come back and complete the “transaction.”

Jesus regards giving as a whole-person event. The gift on the altar is not impressive to Him if it is not preceded by a “gift” of another kind in another part of life. In this case: the gift of reconciliation whether it means asking forgiveness or giving it. Leave your gift where it is and go to your “brother.” The temptation, of course, for the generous giver is to think that a major gift covers a lot of small issues in another part of one’s life. And that might have been true for the religious leaders of those days and, perhaps, even of today. A large gift can close a lot of eyes. But not the eyes of the Lord. God apparently would rather have the giver stay at home with his gift, if he is planning to approach the alter while there is resentment and hostility in the background.

Gordon MacDonald, Generosity: Moving Toward a Life that is Truly Life

A NEXT STEP

Personal heart change is a necessary first step toward personal life change. That principle is at the core of Jesus’ teaching.

In the Matthew 5 passage referenced above, we are called to place interpersonal reconciliation above correct ritual. While we cannot guarantee that another person will agree to be reconciled with us, we should make every effort “as far as it depends on you” (Romans 12:18).

As the leadership of your church begins with the leadership of yourself, how have you recently applied this passage to your own life? Are there un-reconciled relationships between you and a staff member or church leader?

What is the relational health of your staff? Are their offerings hindered by unhealthy relationships with one another or other church leaders?
It will take courage, but engage those closest to you in humility and a posture of grace. Begin by asking forgiveness first, then opening the door for relational repair.

As your leadership climate becomes healthier, grow a culture of generosity church-wide by creating a safe environment to talk about what matters the most. If healthy stewardship conversations cannot happen among the staff, it will never become cultural among the congregation.


Closing Thoughts

Because a giving God expects a giving people, the generous Christian should be a joyous giver. We give as an expression of our new nature and life in Christ.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 30-3, December, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

Generosity for Everyone

a guest post from Todd McMichen, Auxano’s Chief Campaign Officer

It has been an exciting summer around my house. I have had the privilege of watching my college daughter volunteer at the local children’s hospital as a patient pal. My wife has taken time out of her busy realty business to serve a family that has been through a pretty big crisis. My son, who is about to graduate college, is dreaming of how he can impact the future lives of others and benefit his local church. I’ve texted our family giving to our local church, helped another family meet a need, and touched a few buttons on an APP donating to a local charity. It is just pretty normal stuff, nothing exceptional, just moments of generosity from everyone.

No matter how old we are or how much we earn, everyone can live generously. Let’s look at a few examples in the Bible for inspiration. I am first drawn to the boy with the fishes and loaves. While I am not sure how old he is, he appears to be old enough to travel to town and take care of a chore for his family. He probably knows the value of money and certainly of food. Then Jesus and His disciples come along asking if they can use his resources to help others. I don’t think the boy was wrestled to the ground and had his groceries taken. I think he gave them willingly, but had no clue what was about to happen. I wonder if it turned out to be the best day of his life. He probably got home late, couldn’t wait to tell mom, and bragged to all his friends. I bet it left him pretty eager to go to town again looking forward to his next giving adventure.

Then I want to jump to the other end of the spectrum. It’s the poor widow who gave all she had. I would imagine in the modern church if a poor widow showed up at her pastor’s office wanting to give all she had, her gift may very well be declined. Her pastor wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, but she needs her resources more than the church does. Actually, the church has a Benevolence Fund she could benefit from. I love that neither Jesus nor the poor widow were concerned about what the future holds regarding her financial needs. Jesus was more than willing to accept her gift and she was more than willing to give it.

Of course, there was the rich young ruler who had more than enough. Jesus asked him to do as the poor widow did and give everything, but he refused. Pretty interesting that a young boy gives all he had one day and a poor widow gives all she has on another day. Evidently generosity is for everyone and it has nothing to do with the amount of resources you possess or how old you are.

Now I am thinking of Zaccheus and Barnabas, two very successful men in the prime of their earning careers. While I am not sure how long Barnabas has been a believer, I do know that he is way ahead of Zaccheus. Zaccheus isn’t even a believer when his story begins, but by the end of it he is living extravagant generosity. Barnabas actually surrenders an entire piece of property he owns, and gives it to the church to distribute the resources no strings attached.

Here are some things we can learn from a few ordinary people from the Bible who on random days decided to be giving:

  1. Giving is for everyone regardless of your age.
  2. Giving is for everyone regardless of your net worth.
  3. Giving is for everyone regardless of how strong your faith is.
  4. Giving is for everyone regardless of what has been previously planned in your life.
  5. Giving is indeed for everyone.

Now, I do know giving can be hard at times. It is not always top of mind. I think everyone would agree that giving is good both personally and for the world at large. Just imagine what life would be like if everyone lived just a little bit more generously everyday?

The Bible also contains real stories of our struggles with being a giving person. You actually do not have to travel very far in the Bible to be captured by the story of Cain and Abel. Both gave. One got it right and the other had some learning to do. We have already mentioned the rich young ruler who just couldn’t do it. Then when I shared about Barnabas, you may have been inclined to think of Annanias and Sapphira. So while giving is for everyone we all struggle with how to be both willing and joyful givers at times. So maybe we should add a few more principles.

  1. Giving is for everyone even though we all fail at it at times.
  2. Everyone can learn to be better at living generously.
  3. The more generous we all are the better our world is.

As you may have already guessed, I am pretty passionate about generosity. If you are interested in learning more then you may want to check out our latest resource. I had the privilege of partnering with the highly skilled curriculum team at LifeWay and we put together Generous Life resources. We took 10 Bible heroes and unpacked five different types of givers helping all ages develop their own growth plan. It contains five sermon outlines, with accompanying small group leader guides for all ages. Yes, all ages are included. There is even a weekly family devotion to do in the home.

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The Generous Life is not the stuff of super heroes or mega saints. It is a great way to live for normal people. Generosity is indeed for everyone, so let’s all join the journey of getting a little better at it each day.