Imagine a 43-year-old guy, a little thick around the middle and with a “talkative” knee, waking up one morning and announcing, “Today I’m going to join the Olympic Track and Field team, and I’m going to compete in – and win – the decathlon.” Ridiculous, right?
That’s not much different than an average church attendee who gives next to nothing to his church waking up and announcing, “Today I’m going to begin tithing. Actually, I’m going to do more than that. I’m going to also give an above-and-beyond gift to that building campaign we just started. In fact, I think I’ll give 30% of my income. My gross income.”
The odds of this happening are greater than an out-of-shape 43-year-old winning the olympic decathlon, but you get my point. The odds aren’t that great.
Sometimes, though, it seems pastors are tempted to think about giving as simply a decision to be made: People have to decide to be obedient to God’s Word and tithe.
While that’s certainly true, we can go a long way toward helping people become more generous by remembering that giving – like praying, reading the Bible, and fasting – is a discipline that often develops with practice, over time.
Consider these questions:
- Do you talk about giving as if it’s an all-or-nothing deal? If people feel like they can’t afford to give 10%, do they just give up and give nothing? Do you encourage people to try giving something and work up over time?
- Do you talk about tithing as if it’s the finish line? When people are able to give 10%, do they have the impression that they’ve “arrived”? What if giving 10% is relatively easy for them? Could they be encouraged to truly trust God in the area of their finances—by elevating their giving to a sacrificial level?
- Do you remind people to think about how far they’ve come? We encourage people to keep a record of their prayers and how God has answered them. Do you also encourage people to think about how God responds when they trust Him with their finances?
Next post, we’ll look at a possible prayer journey for people who are willing to travel along the discipleship path of generosity.