In a couple of recent posts, I’ve introduced the idea of a perspective shift from giving to something (building campaigns, mission projects, and so on) to giving from something.
When I talk about giving from, I’m not talking about our checking accounts or retirement funds; rather, I’m talking about heart and head issues. Specifically, there are three general categories of “froms”: the shoulds, the cans, and the want tos.
As followers of Christ, we should be offering financial support to God’s work. Here’s the trouble: motivation that comes from finger wagging and guilt-inducing “should” lectures lasts for only a short time. Instead of lecturing, then, it’s our responsibility to introduce new language. Your invitation to participate in the offering is a great time for some succinct teaching.
1. We acknowledge God’s ownership of all we have, and so we give from an understanding that everything we have belongs to God.
2. We give from a desire to show God that He is first in our lives—a practice talked about in scripture as tithing. If you teach the tithe, make sure it is not perceived as the finish line, but rather as a simple measuring stick on the giving journey.
3. We give generously from a sense of commitment to God and to His work in our lives and our world.
4. God’s Word instructs us to be generous. We joyfully give from a sense of obedience to His teaching.
Scripture teaches us that as we steward well with what we’ve already been given, we’ll be blessed with more—not only for our own enjoyment, but also to bless others. In other words, when we do the tough work of “the shoulds,” we learn that we CAN.
5. God is so generous toward us, ensuring we have more than we need so we’re able to show generosity toward others. Our giving flows out of a heart that reflects Christ.
6. Although we’re tempted to put too much emphasis on the financial whims of Wall Street and Madison Avenue, today we can give generously from a place of deep trust in God’s plans and purposes—above all else.
THE WANT TOS
As we trust God with every aspect of our lives—including our finances—we begin to feel that generosity is a “get to,” not a “have to.”
7. God calls us to respond to those in need, and today we give generously from hearts full of compassion for those who are hurting.
8. Just as God held nothing back from us, today—from a place of deep gratitude for all he’s done for us—we give generously.
9. As we learn to lean into God to meet our needs, we experience true freedom—from hurt, shame, and the bonds of money. Today, we give from a desire to demonstrate that our hope rests not in earthly things but in heavenly things.
10. We’re generous out of a recognition that our giving results in joy—not only for God, but also for ourselves and for those around us.
It can be extraordinarily helpful to connect this new language to experiential elements in your offering time. For example, as you talk about giving from a place of joy, invite people to write on a slip of paper a time they experienced unexpected joy from being generous. Collect those stories with your offering and share a couple of them during your next service. If you’re using the offering moment to teach about freedom, invite people to come forward and place their offering in a basket on the altar or at the foot of a cross. Encourage people to close their eyes before you pass the offering plates to imagine what our world would be like if we were all committed to God’s plans and purposes.
How have you changed up your offering moment? What language have you found to be particularly inspiring? What creative ways have you helped people give from the inside out? Have you learned any tough lessons along the way? Share your stories!