How healthy would your marriage be if you told your spouse, "I love you with 2.56% of my heart"? Where would your career be if you performed at only 2.56% of your capability?
We wouldn't dream of doing such things. Yet, this is exactly the attitude the average Christian has when it comes to financing the work of the church.
The average church member only gives an estimated 2.56% of his or her income to any church or charity. We can't accomplish the massive goals of telling every person in the world about Jesus and making disciples of all nations with such miniscule giving.
While it is true that much of the problem is the sin of greediness in the lives of average church members, it also could be the case that our lack of sacrificial giving is the result of disorganization. That's why there is a great need for Christians to begin to evaluate everything financially.
Here are four steps each of us can take to begin meeting the financial aspect of fulfilling the Great Commission.
1. Give at least the first tenth of your income to your local church.
It has been suggested that if every church member increased his or her giving to ten percent, the church would have an additional $86 billion dollars to fund Gospel work around the world.
With that amount of money the church could address in an unprecedented manner poverty, hunger and sickness. It also would open massive avenues to take the Gospel to every corner of the world -- all as a result of each of us obeying the first-tenth principle prescribed in God's Word. We need to be obedient in giving at least ten percent of our income, because when we don't we are quenching the work of God through our small-minded, close-fisted habits of financing His work.
2. Give over and above the first tenth of your income.
Let me illustrate how this works. If you have a smart phone, chances are you have a game or two that you play on your phone. Many of these games progress through increasingly difficult levels. Staying on one level loses its appeal because at some point it ceases to be a challenge. Just as the games we play have progressive levels with increasing difficulty (Angry Birds, anyone?), our giving needs a progressive pattern as well.
When we realize that God has given to us over and above all that we could possibly deserve, it stirs something in our hearts that says 10 percent is not enough. No longer is it a sufficient challenge. Our giving should be sacrificial, and as we mature in the faith we enter into a deeper worship of God through larger gifts that are more costly to us. Just as we grow in other areas of our faith, we must grow in our giving continually and ceaselessly.
3. Leave a legacy of at least one-tenth of your estate to your local church.
Local churches need financial freedom to be able to do all they should in God's name, and you can help them achieve that freedom in your lifetime by following steps one and two. You can also do this in your death. It truly is an awesome feeling to know that a decision to follow this step is an investment that will last beyond your life.
More importantly, you set a godly example for your children and grandchildren that demonstrates to them that God's work is the most important thing in your life, as well as in your death. Evaluate everything financially, including the event of your passing. Billions of dollars should be left through estates over the next decade because Christ-followers want to leave a legacy of reaching the world for Jesus Christ. If you have great financial resources, give this part of your estate now for the need is urgent. Regardless of the size of your estate, small or great, through giving in life and in death you will experience joy beyond your imagination.
4. Leave a legacy of at least five percent of your estate to the Great Commission.
Just as we give above and beyond the first tenth in our lives, we should leave as much as possible in our deaths for the furtherance of the Gospel. Designate at least an additional five percent of your estate to be given to missions through your local church or denominational mission boards (i.e. International Mission Board or North American Mission Board). Seminaries are another opportunity for you to help advance the fulfillment of the Great Commission as they train pastors and missionaries who will take the Gospel throughout the world.
Christ-followers are typically not the wealthiest people in the world, so we do not necessarily have the most to give. However, we ought to be the most amazing, inspirational givers in the world because we have the most to give to. Seeing people all over the world come to saving faith in Christ is the most noble of reasons to give, yet we presently offer less than three percent of what we believe to be ours.
But we know better. It all belongs to God. A deep realization of that fact will make us better givers. Our goal should be that nonbelievers look at us and immediately think of words such as generosity, compassion and love. Only when we become serious about giving back to the Lord will we be able to fulfill the Great Commission.
2.56%: Is this all we love Jesus, His church and changing lives globally? Surely not! It is past time for all of this to change. The change will start with you!
Ronnie Floyd is senior pastor of Cross Church (crosschurch.com) in northwest Arkansas, with campuses in Springdale, Pinnacle Hills and Fayetteville, and the author of a newly released book, "Our Last Great Hope."
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