Let me share a story with you.
A young man was in church on a Sunday morning. The pastor preached on giving. He was so pumped up and motivated. He decided to give the largest single offering he has ever given in his life. He was hoping something big will fall through for him in the course of the week. He believed his offering would pave the way. But things didn’t quite happen the way he expected.
The thing he was hoping for didn’t come through. He was very disappointed. Life became mundane. He felt the church got what it wanted but he didn’t get what he wanted. He still goes to church and serves, but he cannot shake off his experience. He vowed never to give like that again. And life remained mundane.
The worst part of it was that nobody ever knew he went through an experience like this. His pastor did not know. And he wasn’t going to tell the pastor. He mentioned the experience casually in a small group church meeting. And even though he tried to make it trivial, everyone could tell it was a painful experience. How can this experience be avoided for church members? First, let us understand what giving is.
Giving in the Church
There is a big difference between giving an offering in church and a charity donation. Under the government’s laws, they are categorized as the same but in reality, they are not the same. A donation is when you give what you can spare to support a cause. A church offering is how you honor God financially if you believe he has a part to play in you getting what you have. Some ministries call their offerings donations. They shouldn’t.
The first problem church members have is this question: is God really responsible for my finances? No one will have problems with giving, if you can prove that God is responsible for their offering. And that is kind of hard to prove for most preachers. So, they go in the inverse direction. They say God is going to take what you have away if you don’t give to him. This is popular with the tithe. Malachi 3: 8-11 is famous for this. But that was for the Jews under the Old Covenant. Yes, we all know that. So, how do we teach giving today?
Everyone must realize that it is called an offering for a reason. It is something you offer. And that says a lot. An offering is likened to the gifts kings bring to greater kings when they visit the greater king with their entourage. Think about the things Queen Sheba brought to King Solomon when she visited him. That is what an offering is like. It is not of pressure or necessity, just as Paul says in the New Testament, God loves a cheerful giver.
An offering is something a king brings to a greater king
Another important characteristic of offerings is that they are not cheap. Queen Sheba didn’t bring what she couldn’t afford. No, she brought what she had. But you could see clearly that what she brought cost her. King David said it best; I will never offer to God something that doesn’t cost me.
You can donate your spare change but never give an offering that doesn’t cost you something.
The size of an offering is not in its dollar value. The size of an offering is what it is compared to the rest of what you have. That is why Jesus commended the widow’s mite. Another way to view an offering is when you know what you could have done with the money, but you gave it as an offering instead. Now, that is a true offering.
Expecting Something Back
Most preachers preach giving as a way of getting something financial from God. That has created a lot of testimonies and also a lot of bad experiences. This is mostly because there is something wrong with that notion. It is not outright wrong but it is not totally correct either.
Expectation is something that church members should be taught whether they give or not. Giving is not a qualification to be expectant. Everybody should learn to live expectantly. Jesus said it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. There is no condition attached. And preachers should stop attaching conditions to the blessings of God. Jesus already paid the price. And so everyone should expect good things whether they give an offering or not. In fact, God wants you to give because you expected something good and got it. He loves a happy cheerful giver.
On the other hand, giving is a sign of Christian maturity. It shows that God can trust you with bigger things. And in this case, it is a door to more. Giving also can be used to force some doors of progress open but only matured Christians can pull it off.
What was the mistake of the young man I shared his story? Where did he get it wrong? The mistake was not the enthusiasm of the preacher. The mistake was not his decision to give a large offering that he has never given before. The mistake was not even the motive behind the offering. Let me explain.
An offering can be used to move things in the earth realm in your favor. Throughout the Bible, events have been altered by people giving an offering. It is not a wrong thing to try to use an offering to push things in your favor in the earth realm from God’s realm. However, if you don’t have the faith to see it through, don’t do it. This is the mistake.
The mistake is that people do not have the faith to see it through. Why did the young man get disappointed when he didn’t get the specific thing he wanted that week? Why didn’t he believe he would get something better? Why didn’t he say “it is working for my good”? He stopped believing. He gave up. He believed he made a mistake with his offering. And that sealed his outcome. God cannot have faith for you. God isn’t into surprises. You have according to your faith. Jesus always emphasized that.
The One Thing That Makes Church Members Give More
This will come as a shock to many. You probably are not expecting this. But if you listen and do it, the outcome will be amazing.
Jesus said “give and it shall be given unto you…”
The reason most churches don’t get a lot of money from members is because they don’t give. So, most churches don’t give and then they tell and expect their members to give. It won’t work. The church has to be a giving church first and foremost. How much percentage of your church income do you give? Most churches have expenses that are so much that they have no space to give. But they keep telling members to give.
People don’t give offerings in response to need. Queen Sheba didn’t bring an offering to King Solomon because Solomon needed gold and spices. In fact, Solomon had much more than what Queen Sheba brought. This is why those who have, keep having more. And those who have nothing keep losing what they have.
People love giving to givers. But they hate those who keep asking them for money.
Stop asking members for money. Stop appealing to them to give. Make your church (as an entity) a giving church. And then make the details open to the members. State what you got, what you gave and where you gave it to. Make it open for all to see. If they are really members of the church community, they should know.
For bold ministers, you can take it a step further. Make your salary from the church open to all members. And let them see how you spend it. And then make sure over 50% goes into offerings of different kinds. However, do not lie. Remember Ananias and Sapphira. If you do this, every statement you make about offering (even passively) will get to the heart of every listener.
If you do this, it will trigger a wave of financial abundance like never before in your church. And you won’t struggle for it to stick. It is that simple.
Give and it shall be given unto you…