Generosity Is the New Evangelism

Generosity Is a Clear Picture of Christ

“Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.” — Mother Teresa

We work with churches not simply to help them fund budgets or meet campaign goals — although those things may result from implementing the practices in this book. But if that is all we’re going to achieve, we will have missed something along the way.

We work with churches because we believe that following Jesus means learning how to follow Him in every area of our lives, including how we handle our money.

The truth is that God doesn’t need our money but knows that our orientation toward money reflects our obedience to the lordship of Christ and how well we grasp that he is the source of all we have. As followers of Christ, our goal in life is not gaining power, possession, or prestige for ourselves. We exist, along with the entire body of Christ, to fulfill the Great Commission until Christ’s return. Generosity offers one of the most powerful ways for us to leverage the blessings of God for the advancement of the kingdom.

Best of all, when the Church acts with generosity to serve others, it is a clear picture of Christ, who at the cross generously gave His life and all He had so that we might find life forever.

Financial hardship has a way of breaking down the walls that separate us, even in the Church. The sudden loss of wealth and security reminds people that our net worth on paper — our value in the eyes of the world — can change at any moment. During the last recession, people started to question what really matters in life and began to think about what is of lasting value. Individuals who had placed their hope in the markets began to recognize that paper is really nothing more than paper; it has no lasting value.

Two people who before may have been separated by the divide between poverty and luxury now found themselves in the same pew, seeking answers to the same questions: Where are you, God? What is your plan for me?

Unfortunately, history shows us that the insights we gain in these moments of clarity, when the divisions created by money evaporate long enough to reveal what is truly valuable and how much we have in common with one another, become obscured again all too soon. How can we prevent that from happening as our world moves toward economic recovery? How can we learn to retain the insights from the lean years when the years of plenty return?

We don’t believe that money is inherently evil. Yet we do believe that money should play a less significant role than it currently does in the lives of most Christians.

A follower of Christ should be guided by the direction of the Holy Spirit rather than the highs and lows of the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the NASDAQ. Economic downturns remind us that as believers, we all have similar balance sheets. None of us stand before God with anything to offer Him, and we are all dependent on the same mercy and gift of grace that He offers us in Jesus.

Conversations about money aren’t going away. As leaders in the Church, we must learn to recognize that everyone is talking about money — both the person across the street and the person in the pew. The real question is this: How will you and your church use this opportunity — the interest that people have in money, and their desire to talk about it — as a way of connecting them with Jesus?

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Excerpted with permission from Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church by Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

How are you engaging this conversation within your Church? Do you completely trust God with your finances? How are you being generous with the resources He has given you? Join the conversation on the blog. We would love to hear from you!

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Chris Willard

Chris Willard has more than 20 years of experience in professional ministry leadership. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and has an MBA from Belhaven College. He is a frequent speaker at retreats and conferences across the country including FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage conference. Before joining LN at the start of 2007, he was the Executive Pastor of Discovery Church in Orlando. Currently, Chris serves as the director of development for OneHundredX and is the director of Leadership Network's Rapid Growth and Generous Churches Leadership Communities. He lives in Orlando with his wife Susan and their three children.

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Jim Sheppard

Jim Sheppard is CEO and principal of Generis, a consulting firm committed to developing and accelerating generosity for churches and Christian ministry organizations. He is an avid student of generosity and is passionate about helping church people become more generous. Since 1992, his work with churches and ministry organizations has produced more than $950 million in funding for Kingdom-related projects. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Nancy, and their two grown daughters.

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