The great thing about a church plant is we are starting with nothing! But the hard thing about a church plant is that we are starting with nothing.
It’s great to start with nothing!
We are going to set the culture from day 1, and we will never hear, “We can’t do it that way, we have always done it this way!” We have a clean slate! But by far the greatest thing about starting with nothing: We are going to see the Lord build things from the ground up. Where are the people going to come from? Where are we going to meet? How will, where will, what if…? The Lord is working these things out right now! This time next year, we will be looking back to where we sit today, fondly reminiscing, “Remember when we were wondering how this was going to happen and God made amazing provision?”
Let’s not think too far ahead… let’s enjoy where the Lord has us right now. And where He has us is in a position of faith. Thank you, Lord, for putting us in a position where we have to trust you! Thank you for putting us in a place where, if you don’t show up, we won’t succeed, because we cannot do this in our own power. The glory rightly goes to God, to whom it is due.
It's hard to start with nothing!
No building, no bank account, no... people! It is hard to start with nothing! And one of the “obstacles” that stand before us is money. Obviously, starting a church plant requires some start up funds. How does God provide this? He provides it through His people. From provision for the tabernacle in Exodus to provision of the church in the New Testament and beyond, God’s people give to support the work of God.
So how should we give?
In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul talks about collecting an offering from the churches to take to the church in Jerusalem, which was in pretty severe need. This occasion prompted some great teaching about giving. Here are 4 things you and I need to keep in mind when we give.
- Give generously (2 Corinthians 8:2).
Here’s a little math from verse 2: Joy + Sacrifice = Generosity.
I never met anyone who referred to themselves as a Scrooge: “I hate giving to worthy causes”. We would all like to be thought of as being generous. But generosity is measured by 2 things: joy AND sacrifice (or as the text says, giving out of poverty). You have to have both to fall into the generous category. If you joyfully give $10 when you are a multi-billionaire, that is very nice and appreciated but it isn’t technically generous. Or if you only make $20 a year and reluctantly give 10 of them, while grumbling and complaining about it, that’s not generous either! It’s joyfully and sacrificially giving! We are calling on you to be generous: giving sacrificially out of a joyful heart. How can you foster that attitude? Keep in mind you aren’t giving to an organization or a person or even a charity - you are giving to God. And when you know you are giving directly to Him, you can’t help but want to give and give joyfully!
- Give according to your means (2 Corinthians 8:3, 12).
Always of our own free will, and certainly at times beyond our means, but giving is according to your means. I would love to give 100 trillion dollars to the church. Believe it or not, I don’t even have half of that in my bank account. So what can I give? Well, like the commercial asks, “What‘s in your wallet?” I am not told to give according to Bill Gates’ means, or give what is in Lebron James’ wallet, or looting my neighbor’s house. I am told to give according to my means. How has God given to me? “The need is great, but all I can give is _______.” You be faithful to God with what He has entrusted to you, and by His grace, I will do the same.
- Give according to the law of the harvest (2 Corinthians 9:6, 10).
It doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. Sow a little, reap a little; sow a lot, reap a lot. This is true for the farmer, and this also works for the faithful giver. Proverbs 11:24 teaches the same. You will never out-give God. Ever.
- Give hilariously (2 Corinthians 9:7).
I hope when you started reading, and saw the subject was money, you didn’t roll your eyes and prepare for a guilt trip to give. The last thing I want to do is give a guilt trip, because “God loves a cheerful giver”. You make up your mind, you give generously according to your means… but it has to be given with joy. The Greek word for cheerful could also be translated hilarious. When I think of the word hilarious, several people come to mind. My wife is one of those people. She just says things sometimes that make me laugh and laugh. For days. And then a week later, I will remember it suddenly and laugh all over again! It is that kind of unrestrained joy that we are to make a part of our giving. This brings us back full circle to the joy in 2 Corinthians 8:2. It’s all God’s anyways, and we are giving back to Him what is His and He will use it to do His work and give us more to give back to Him to do more work and… the whole thing really is hilarious!
p.s. - a big fan of hilarity