09 Aug Extravagant Generosity
Last Christmas Liz and I went to see the movie, “The Impossible.” The movie was about a family of five on vacation in Thailand who survived the infamous 2004 tsunami. The movie brought back many memories for me. I remembered where I was on that fateful December Sunday. I was visiting my son Steve’s family, who was living in Oklahoma at that time. I remember seeing on TV the devastation and loss of life. I remember thinking that Morning Star needed to do something – at the very least take an offering the following Sunday.
We did take that offering and I was blown away by the congregation’s generosity as they gave thousands of dollars to help the relief efforts. I remember being amazed at how ready they were to give, even without an email blast or any prior prompting or forewarning. They were just ready. That’s extravagant giving!
I’ve seen it happen again and again in our thirty-one years of leading this awesome congregation. That generosity has also taken the form of releasing people to plant new churches, loaning staff to other churches, sharing resources, and giving away our own material goods that we no longer use. It makes me realize that this kind of generosity is truly contagious as I see the percentage of our people giving more generously growing.
One of our slogans at Morning Star is, “What you make happen for others – God makes happen for you!” I believe God gives us opportunities to practice this kind of extravagant giving every day. God is looking for the kind of people the Apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 9:9 who, “…throw caution to the wind, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.” (The Message)
Here are five ways to cultivate extravagant giving:
Embrace the standard: Paul not only talked about extravagant givers, but he talked about an extravagantly generous God. He said, “This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer…is more than extravagant with you.” (2 Corinthians 9:10, The Message) I’m striving to be like my Daddy. The goal of my life is to be and live like Him.
Lead the way: In the book “Contagious Generosity,” Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard state that, “Generous churches are led by generous pastors. Period.”
Make a plan: Isaiah said that; “A generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand.” (Isaiah 32:8, New King James) At Morning Star our giving has actually increased during this recession. Why? We resolved beforehand that that was who we were going to be – a people who stand firm in our generosity.
Refuse to play it safe: Willard and Sheppard said, “It’s no accident that leaders who chose generosity rather than playing it safe reproduced that same response within their people.” Knowing the nature of her Savior, Mrs. Beaver, in the Chronicles of Narnia said, “Of course He’s not safe, but He is good.”
Enjoy the results: Paul said, “His right-living, right-giving ways never run out – never wear out.” A generous man or a generous church cannot be stopped!
As printed in the Fall 2013 Network Connexions