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The Generosity Journey: A Better Story

By Michael Roop

It was another monthly board meeting with another monthly financial report. As is typical in churches across our country, we were once again behind budget. We told the same ol’ story. This is normal. God always provides. Maybe it's time for a letter to the congregation.

So I mulled these words. I looked at the trends. I opened a document to outline a letter asking for the congregation to remember us in their giving. But then I remembered words that always ground me in leadership challenges: Your system is perfectly calibrated for the results you’re getting.

That got me thinking. Maybe our problem isn’t so much the economic volatility of our time, or a lack of communication about our needs. Maybe we don’t need to tweak our fundraising technique.

Maybe we need a better story.

A story that begins with a God who, in a pure act of generosity, creates everything. This God needs nothing, because He eternally has all that He needs within His triune self (Acts 17:24-25). And yet still He creates, spilling His glory over every aspect of creation as He declares it “very good.” God created everything, and therefore He owns everything (Ps. 24:1-2). And at the top of creation He placed humans to oversee, care for, guide, protect, and nurture His creation for His glory (Gen. 1:26-30).

But humans were deceived. They exchanged the glory of belonging to God for the disaster of belonging to self. They believed the lie that a better life was found in autonomy, in self-determination, in rewriting the indelible laws of right and wrong (Gen.3:1-6). And if I belong to myself, and my happiness is my highest good, surely material possessions exist to serve my happiness! So I collect, hoard, treasure, guard, insure, save, amass as much as I can in pursuit of the happiness humanity lost in its rebellion against our Maker.

But then the story turned. In a rural village with a storied history occupied by an oppressed people, a Child’s cry pierced the night. This Child came to bring abundant life (John 10:10) and soul-level rest (Matt. 11:28-30). This Child came to claim a bride (Eph. 5:32-33; Rev. 19:6-9). This Child came to ransom the enslaved (Mark 10:45). All of this, a radical display of generosity from the One who needs nothing, yet who made Himself poor so that we could become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).

And His bride, betrothed by His death on the cross, would be marked for an astronomical inheritance (Eph. 1:11-14). A kingdom, and more importantly its King, would be hers in abundance, in infinite measure, forever. And as a downpayment, His bride is given His Spirit, the inestimable provision that is only part of our forever portion. Meaning everytime His bride gives, the world sees a shadow of the ultimate provision available to them in Jesus.

What if generosity had a story like that?

So in this five-part blog series, we’re going to follow the journey of generosity from conception to full maturity. We’re going to watch together as a giving grows into the Christian discipline of generosity, as a heart becomes captured by the joy of giving (Acts 20:35).

Because I don’t think it’s time for another letter about giving. I think it’s time for us to tell a better story about generosity. Or better yet, to find generosity’s place in a better story.
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