Why I Want My Church to Be Known as a Generous Church
No group of people has more power to do good than the church of Jesus Christ. The members of the family of God have the blessing and responsibility to leverage their collective resources for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom. As a pastor, it gives me incredible joy to see the members of my flock using their resources and talents to bless our community and the wider world. I pray that my church is always known as a generous church, and here are three reasons why.
Since Christ is generous, the church should be generous
Jesus is the church’s model for generosity. Not only was Jesus generous with His time, compassion, and power during His earthly ministry, but His death on the cross made it possible for people to receive the fullness of God’s love. This truth is the essence of the Gospel. God proved His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Though our sin abounded, God’s grace abounded all the more (Rom. 5:20). Since Christ shows overflowing generosity toward us, our responsibility is to live generously for the sake of others.
Scripture presents a direct link between our generosity and the level of care we show for others. Jesus taught that a man’s heart was linked directly to his generosity, and He warned of the danger of loving one’s possessions more than loving God and His kingdom (Mt. 6:21; Mt. 19:16-22). The church best glorifies Jesus when it mirrors His character, and a powerful way to reflect the character of Jesus is to mimic His generous spirit.
When the church is generous, the community sees proof of God’s love
Multiple times in the New Testament, Christians demonstrated kingdom-minded generosity. Often, one local congregation sprang to the aid of another because of famine or other circumstances. These biblical narratives show that belonging to the family of God means showing the love of God in tangible ways.
The book of Acts reveals several instances of church generosity. Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37 show church members actively engaged in a pattern of selfless generosity that ensured no one would live in need. In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul explains how the church at Corinth could honor Christ by providing for the tangible needs of fellow believers. Jesus Himself taught that the world could identify His disciples in one way: if they loved each other (Jn 13:35).
When the pandemic hit in 2020, churches made the difficult decision to stop meeting in person. Ministries came to an unexpected halt, and people wondered when it would be safe again to do simple things like eat in restaurants and attend baseball games. One of the longstanding traditions in my church is the Wednesday night meal. Before we meet for Bible study, we meet around the table for spaghetti, burritos, or something similar. It’s a wonderful opportunity for fellowship, but the pandemic brought it to an end. Until God’s people unleashed their generosity.
About a week after everything closed, church members contacted me and asked about preparing meals on Wednesdays to deliver to our shut-ins. While we followed the guidelines about safety, our church members gave of their time and talents to endure our most vulnerable church members enjoyed a home-cooked meal on Wednesday afternoons. We also identified senior adults in the community who would benefit from the same ministry, whether they were church members or not. What started as a few dozen meals morphed into hundreds of meals delivered each week. The ministry grew to the point that our church members also fed hospital employees, nursing home staff, and first responders because so much food was being prepared. It was amazing to see a kingdom-minded spirit of generosity take over in my church. God blessed me tremendously to see my church family show the love of God in such a real way.
When the church is generous, Christians receive the blessing of Kingdom usefulness
It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). While the saying began with Jesus, it has entered into the common English lexicon and appears in a wide variety of contexts. It is a proverb that has unfortunately morphed into a cliché in some contexts, but both the Bible and church history attest to its truth.
As the apostle Paul sat in a dark prison cell, he had the opportunity to contemplate all that he had experienced as an ambassador and apostle for Jesus Christ. He wrote a heartwarming letter to the church at Philippi, encouraging them to serve the Lord with all faithfulness. As the Philippians were dear to his heart, Paul uses some of his most tender language to urge the church toward full faithfulness to Christ.
As the letter closed, Paul expressed his gratitude to the church for its generosity toward him. At repeated points in his ministry, the church had given financial support to the apostle. In Philippians 4, Paul expressed how the Philippians had blessed him with their generosity, at a time when no other church supported him (Phil. 4:15). But in a passage normally known for its emphasis on contentment (see Phil. 4:10-13), Philippians 4 also demonstrates the blessing of kingdom usefulness. When a church commits to kingdom-minded generosity, God is honored, the kingdom is strengthened, and the church is blessed. Paul desired that the church would receive credit in the eyes of God for its faithfulness, and he closed the paragraph with a bold assurance that God would meet the church’s every need through the riches of Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
A Generous church is a Christ-honoring church
I pray my church is always known as a generous church, one that is the first to rise up when a need is present. Sometimes the need impacts members of the body, sometimes the need centers on a missions project or a sister church, and sometimes the need is concentrated right there in the community. I pray that God is glorified and that lives are powerfully impacted for the sake of the Gospel because of the generosity of Christ’s churches.
About the author: Matthew Collier has spent two decades as a bi-vocational pastor and high school social studies teacher in northeast Arkansas. He and his wife Jennifer have three kids: Walter, Abigail, and Benjamin. He is a second-year Doctor of Ministry student at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, TN. His passions are spending time with family, preaching and teaching, coin collecting, and following the Atlanta Braves and Arkansas Razorbacks.