Giving is the fruit of a discipled believer. The amount may be limited by circumstances, but not by the lack of an uncomplicated and generous heart. Just like every ministry, a church must be built upon a solid foundation. The cornerstone is Jesus and we anchor the ministry structure on Him. He keeps the plumb-line true for the hewn, foundation stones—living stones-drawn from His people (1 Peter 2:5) to build a true foundation with their gifts. The vital strength of each of these stones isn’t the amount of money represented in any particular gift, nor the amount of money people give cumulatively; rather, the strength of the structure is in the simple act of giving.
In essence, it is the connection that goes past the transaction to the transformation of all involved—the giver, the pastor or the missionary, and the beneficiary of the loving action of the Gospel. Even the smallest gift imparts inestimable strength because every gift is precious in God’s sight, as it should be also in ours. In God’s economy, what counts is not the giver’s amount, but the giver’s faithfulness, sacrifice, and prayer. A primary case in point is that of someone our Lord observed:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were collected and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you; this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:41–44).
This widow with her few pennies became the most celebrated giver in history. Why? Jesus says it’s because she put in more than all the others; she gave sacrificially. Hers was the joyful act of giving. There’s untold strength in that joy.
Joyful giving—no matter the relative financial status of the communities from which it’s raised, imparts a fibrous and enduring strength to a ministry.
Our acts of giving are worship. These acts of worship bind giver and receiver together in the pursuit of a common cause, carried forward by God to fulfill a calling imparted by Him. You can call this a communion of giving and receiving, for it is sacred.
When a ministry or congregation has a solid foundation of people who faithfully give, according to their means, it is evidence of a Biblically discipled and mature fellowship of believers. It is the pastor’s job to cast vision for mission from the pulpit. By preaching the Gospel and discipling, the missional entrepreneurialism of pew sitters will be unlocked, and it will draw them into deeper engagement to give and to do the loving actions of the Gospel.
In Scripture, Paul emphasizes that giving is inspired by Christ’s incarnational life and death: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he writes, “that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Giving is inspired by the example we have of Christ leaving the wealth and beauty of heaven, sacrificing all that He had and all that He was, for us.
So how do we ask for sacrificial giving, the type of giving that is so engaging it’s like kids on a playground, all wanting in the game?
How do we encourage a heartfelt attitude of giving? It always comes down to vision casting and people who are prepared to catch it.
The trouble is that vision for mission giving often comes from somewhere else and not the pulpit. Even with the continued practice of special offerings and mission’s weekends, the game of today is individual giving, and not so much, the collective action of congregations or denominations. Those involved in giving to mission quite possibly are the most discipled and joyful givers in your flock- no matter where they get the idea for their gifts to mission.
No pastor, except the hucksters, asks for gifts every week, but that doesn’t mean your sheep don’t need a balanced diet and exercise. Cast vision for mission to your congregation. Vision is the trough that holds the feed. Explain the need (mission) God is showing you, what he is telling you to do about it, and what will be accomplished when you know you have done what he is telling you to do.
With a discipled group of believers who catch your vision for mission, your congregation will joyfully enter into a communion of giving and receiving with their gifts.
Rob Martin is the author of When Money Goes on Mission: Fundraising and Giving in the 21st Century (Moody Publishers, 2019). Rob directs the First Fruit Institute, a grantmaking foundation that resources leaders and organizations working among the poorest segments of the Majority World. Previously, he served as First Fruit’s Executive Director for over 20 years. During that period, he presided over 2,000 grants made to organizations operating in 100 countries.