No More Talk About The Economy And Churches

It’s official. As of today, I am no longer talking about the effect of the economy on church giving. There is enough research and plenty of articles, but I have had enough. Some churches are up (yes, that is right – some churches have giving that is up), some are down and some are flat. We know that. We have spent enough time talking about the economy and how it has affected churches. Now we need to start talking about solutions.

With the exception of the people who have been totally flattened by the economy since fall 2008, the problem for the church is not the amount of money in its members’ bank accounts. By any measure, America is still one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. The problem is not how much money we have, it is what we have chosen to do with it.

Our money goes to one of three main categories: giving, saving or living. Wise counsel is to give first, save second and live on the remainder. In America, we have been conditioned to practice it in reverse: we live first, then save and give. The problem with that is, if you are living on 100% or more, there is nothing left for the giving or saving categories.

The main enemy for many of us is lifestyle. To the extent we can live under some form of restraint, we are freed to give more and save more. Though the case could be made that it is simply a matter of discipline, I submit that it is deeper than that. It is about our hearts. Our hearts are more consumed with “what would make me happy” (yep, it happens to me and I spend my whole life trying to help people understand generosity). As a result, we forget our greater responsibility to manage what God has put under our care. In essence, our hearts become lukewarm to what God wants to do through us. When our hearts are on fire and we are convicted about something, we find a way to get it done. For almost all of us, we can give more if we really want to.

What would happen if, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we would be willing to completely reassess our lifestyle with the goal of unleashing additional giving for the furtherance of God’s work? What would my church look like if we could release an army of people like this? My guess is we would not be talking about “the effect of the economy on my church.”

Worth considering, isn’t it?

Stay tuned. I’ll continue the conversation.

P. S. Appropriate credit must be given to Don Linscott, who planted the original idea of lifestyle stewardship with me.

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