Do you pray for generosity to invade your heart? When was the last time you prayed for a spirit of generosity to fall upon your church?
One of the prayers of missional leaders that will enlarge their hearts for God's mission is "Father, pour out a generous spirit in my life and church."
You'll notice that the prayer was not, "Father, let generosity be lavished on me and my church," but, “Let me reflect a generous spirit.”
One of the prevailing marks of every strong leader is that of a generous spirit.
In Paul’s farewell message to the elders in Ephesus, he said these words, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35 NIV).
Paul lived a generous life and appealed to others to be generous with the resources entrusted to them, both with financial and personnel resources. His appeal was based on the words of Jesus himself who was the supreme model of generosity.
Barnabas was another leader whose life was marked by a generous spirit. He was not only generous with his financial resources (Acts 4:36-37), but also with his investment in young leaders – first Paul (Acts 9) and then John Mark (Acts 13).
But what can you do practically to you lead your church toward a spirit of generosity?
Here are three basic realities for seeing a generous spirit released through your church.
1. Put God first by giving away a minimum 10% of your offerings.
As leaders we all teach church members the principles of tithing and first-fruits giving.
All too often, when the budget gets tight or challenging, leaders reduce their giving and begin robbing God.
One pastor told me the following story. The financial person in the church came to him and said, “If we pay our tithe this month, we will not have enough money to cover the postage costs for our Easter mailing...which one do you want to pay?”
The pastor did not hesitate, “Pay our tithe! I fear God more than I do the post office! We will just have to trust God to provide!”
That Friday he asked his assistant if she had checked their PO Box for mail that week. She responded, “No.” He asked her to check it to see if any checks had come in.
Well, guess want happened?
You guessed it! There was a check for $2500.00. (The postage for the mailing was $2,200.00!)
Generous leaders are leaders of principle and faith. They understand that God must be placed first in the finances.
2. Expand your giving over time.
Excelling is a natural attribute of a leader.
They are always looking for ways to grow and strengthen themselves personally as well as professionally. They seek ways to improve and move their organizations to the next level.
Paul wrote to the church inCorinth, acknowledging their excellent growth in every level and appealing to them to excel in their giving.
“But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (II Corinthians 8:7 NIV).
As individuals and organizations, we are called to excel in our giving. Ten percent is always just the starting place.
I remember a friend of mine saying that his church was giving 30% of their offering away into missional endeavors and that his goal was to become a 50/50 church in that they would give 50% of their income into kingdom building ventures!
On a personal level, Rick Warren practices "reverse tithing," meaning that he gives 90% of his income away and lives on 10%.
God blesses generous hearts. God wants us to understand that we cannot out-give Him.
In my experience, generous people are usually entrusted with more resources to give away. They understand the giving cycle always ends with giving.
Our culture looks at the "giving to get" model, but the biblical perspective is "giving to get to give more!" (II Corinthians 9:10)
The biblical cycle always ends with giving.
3. Hold leaders and staff lightly.
Remember the church is to be in the sending business, and you can’t send those you hold onto tightly.
In Acts 13:1-3, the leaders gave their two top leaders in Barnabas and Saul to God’s missional purposes, along with sending out an up-and-coming leader named John Mark.
I’ve worked with too many churches who grudgingly give up those leaders who sense God’s missional call to church planting. These churches miss a huge opportunity to be a blessing to those being sent and to receive a blessing from God for their generosity.
I think that this was a big part of Paul’s message to the elders atEphesus. “Don’t hold on to me so tightly that you miss God’s blessing in my departure.
“Remember what Jesus said, 'It is more blessed to give that to receive.'”
As a leader, would you dare to ask God for a generous spirit and then take steps to see it happen?
It is a prayer that will lead you on a soul stretching adventure .
Adapted from Gary's book: NextSteps for Leading a Missional Church