By Benjamin C. Maxson

Summary: The first challenge is to help people grow so that their giving is an extension of their faith walk with God. Giving without a faith relationship cannot be worship. Giving based on something other than the faith relationship and the assurance of salvation becomes false worship.

Giving and offerings mean different things to different people. And people give for many different reasons. But the real question is how should a church leader approach giving? If we simply appeal to human motives, we may reinforce the focus on self. If we do not present accurate information, we may disappoint or confuse people. There are two sides to giving. The one deals with the donor--the motives encouraging someone to give. The second side deals with leadership--those involved in asking people to give. Giving actually brings these two groups together. So how does a leader deal with giving?

First, we must remember that giving for a Christian is first an act of worship. The primary purpose for tithes or offerings is to give glory to God--to recognize Him as Creator and integrate Him into the material side of life. Appeals to traditional human motivations may actually reinforce chains of selfishness and sin. Thus, we must ask ourselves the following questions: Who is really owner of all that is in our hands? What does it mean for God to be Owner? What can you really give to God? Can we as Christians give anything more than our own hearts? What makes our tithe and offerings worship?

Truly all we have and are belongs to God. Tithe is worship when we recognize our relationship with God. Offerings are worship when, in partnership with Him, we invest God’s money in His kingdom. They become an extension of our partnership with God. Without this partnership with God, we cannot worship Him with offerings--they are only payoffs. Offerings reflect our hearts and our experience with God, and are the result of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in intimate partnership.

The first challenge is to help people grow so that their giving is an extension of their faith walk with God. Giving without a faith relationship cannot be worship. Giving based on something other than the faith relationship and the assurance of salvation becomes false worship. However, the way we present information is critical, even if people are growing spiritually. So here are some pointers to help a leader working with givers.

The best giving follows

  1. The best giving follows vision, not duty. This vision must have a biblical origin. We don’t have to wonder about God’s vision--we can go to Scripture to discover it, and then articulate it in the contemporary context. A strong spiritual leader presents this vision in proportion to God’s ability, and His ability to be involved with what His Church is doing. A biblical vision for ministry and the church provides the biblical leader a powerful foundation for helping members see what God is doing.
  2. The best giving follows mission, not structure. It is hard for people to see God working through or in the structure of an organization. However, they easily see God in His commission to us to go into all the world and make disciples. Matthew 28:18-20 provides the clearest and most powerful mission a church could find. God promises to be with us always, even unto the end of the world. This assures us that in joining this mission, we walk with God in intimate partnership.
  3. The best giving also follows people, not programs. God is, first of all a personal God, and we need a personal touch when working for Him. Thus, when working with members, we need to remember they respond to people better than to programs. Thus we need to be visible and real, and we need to maintain absolute and transparent integrity. We must also present the ministry or project we are asking them to support as people, not institutions or programs.
  4. The best giving follows passion, not pressure. That means our hearts have to be involved, and we must have a personal commitment. At the same time we need to help our members become involved. Christianity is not about giving. It is about a passionate involvement with the Lord of the universe. True giving by a Christian comes as a result of a personal commitment to and heart involvement with this incredible God.
  5. The best giving follows growth and progress, not maintenance. Many of our appeals focus on maintaining or repairing the status quo in either the organization or institution. Sometimes the appeal deals with a current crisis. Other times, the appeal creates a sense of crisis in order to develop a greater sense of need. We need to remember that God has no losing causes. He sees the bigger picture, and He invites us into a growing adventure with Him.
  6. The best giving follows information, not promotion. Only the Holy Spirit has the right to convict people on their giving. But we can help the Holy Spirit by providing information. That information must be complete, transparent and understandable. In today’s world, what is unknown, misunderstood, or hidden, is automatically suspect. The spiritual leader who seeks to involve people in supporting God’s kingdom will provide accurate information of what God is doing and how they can join with Him in His mission.
  7. The best giving follows conviction, not manipulation. Only the Holy Spirit can bring that conviction. Only God can create the desire, and when He does, He gives the power to follow through on that conviction.

Giving is really managing God’s investments!

It is time for us to go back to a biblical approach to raising money--to trusting God to work in people’s lives and in their giving. He is the Owner Partner. We are managing partners. Everything belongs to God and we manage His investments in partnership with Him. We acknowledge that relationship through our tithes, and we invest directly in His kingdom. We manage His assets, and we invest them in His kingdom through offerings and in the way we care for our families.

I believe that spiritual leadership is partnering with God, and that when we invite others to partner with Him in joining what He is doing we are helping them join the most exciting thing in the universe--His Kingdom.

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October–December, 1999

Offering