Dear Cleveland Hope Churches and Church Plants,
Just as member giving sustains the ministry of your church, Cleveland Hope’s capacity to resource pastors, planters, and the churches they lead for greater gospel impact is sustained by the gifts of our member churches and church plants. As your 2019 Executive Leadership Team seeks to discern and trust God’s direction in Kingdom work, we would like to address the need to give to our local evangelistic efforts by asking What does the Bible say about giving?
Often this crucial question is skewed by distractions like an over-focus on money, misuse and/or abuse of church funds, and other questions like: Why give to my local association when my return seems minimal? How do I give from my lack of funds? and How do I know the money is being used in the best manner? God’s word offers principles that can bless our churches and plants as we depend on His providence. Here are a few:
Giving shows God is Lord of all parts of our life. Paul says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). God meets our needs when we acknowledge our lack and His lordship. Christ can do more with two fish and five loaves than we can do with personal inventory.
Sowing and reaping is an immutable truth of God’s providence. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). As we open our hands to give, God opens heaven’s windows exponentially.
Giving puts us in the “blessed place.” “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving to the local association not only says you believe we can do more together than we can apart, it links your church or church plant to the protective benefits of having local, like-minded partners as well as to the funnel of associational blessing, both to the giving and—yes at times—to the receiving end of that funnel.
Giving should not be by constraint but liberal and cheerful. In 2 Cor. 9:7-8 Paul declares, “Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Giving begins as a heart issue. Do we trust God is not shorter than His word? If so, that trust ought to bring a joy and expectancy to His vineyard workers.
The Macedonian model is a practical paradigm. “In a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency to receive the gift and the fellowship of ministering to the saints” (2 Cor 8:1-4). The Macedonian churches gave cheerfully and liberally from their lack, but more importantly from the grace of God given to them.
Christ Jesus is the perfect paradigm. Paul further admonishes the Corinthian churches with these salient words: “I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:8-9). As we empty, God fills!
Beloved, our calling is bigger than one local church or our association. We are living in “harvest-is-plentiful” times. Will we trust in the Lord with all our heart, or will we lean on our own understanding? It is our prayer that we become a more cheerful, generous association of churches, rightly fitted for this great calling of our Lord to labor for His kingdom.