Liberating Generosity

Preachers, you’re entering one of my favorite seasons of the year. Fall Stewardship Campaign Season. I wish it lasted all year long because if there was one thing Jesus had on his mind, it was money. He seemed to think it was a matter of great spiritual significance. He seemed to link it to faith and justice and wholehearted discipleship. He seemed to imagine that generosity was a sure mark that we are to make in God’s own extravagantly generous image. So this is the time of year when you, preacher, get to have a deep spiritual impact on your congregants.

Not any one of you, but some preachers I know don’t really like talking about giving or generosity. Maybe it’s because they’ve heard too much the complaint that “the church is always asking for money.” Or, maybe they are afraid they will offend someone. Or, maybe their own relationship with money is a little out of whack. I don’t know, but for whatever the reason they shy away from this most liberating of topics.

And it is liberating. Think of the word generosity itself. Doesn’t it just sound joyful and full of holy abandon? Free of the chains of fear and anxiety? Liberated from the constricting bonds of scarcity or greed. And study after study in brain science has found a direct link between generosity and overall happiness.

Henri Nouwen in his book, The Spirituality of Fundraising, writes, “From the perspective of the gospel, fundraising is not a response to a crisis. First and foremost, it is a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission. Vision and mission are so central to the life of God’s people that without vision we perish and without mission we lose our way. In fundraising we are declaring, ‘We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources God has given you – your energy, your prayers and your money, in this work to which God has called us.’”

So, preachers, get out there and enjoy this season! What better news could you preach than to invite people to invest wholeheartedly in the Kingdom of Heaven!

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