Please continue to give to St. Bartholomew’s even during this difficult time we are all facing. Your checks can be mailed in and that will help us take care of bills and be ready to open the doors wide when we can return to public worship. This is an article about the importance of giving.
Perhaps I’m the right one to say this as I have no direct personal upside from the conversation. What I do have is a deep belief in God’s Word, a love for the mission of God in the world, and a network of dear friends leading this charge in countries across the globe and in local congregations right here in my own community.
While I don’t draw a paycheck from a church, I love the local Church and believe it is God’s plan to embody and proclaim His Kingdom to the world. We can debate its many forms and expressions, whether its a building, an organization, or just the people, but there’s one thing I don’t think should be debatable for Christians today: when we honor the Church we’re honoring God.
Like all of you, in the midst of this COVID-19 outbreak, I’m incredibly concerned about finances – my personal finances, my business’s finances, and quite honestly, the financial position of all of you around me as our economy is complex and intertwined. Those aren’t just self-centered wrestlings.
And in the midst of these scary times, we are watching beautiful outpourings of generosity manifest in many different ways – families delivering food to their elderly neighbors, people donating and even making masks for front line medical workers, NBA stars covering the lost salaries of arena workers. It is encouraging to see humans respond to the needs around them in times of crisis.
But during this unprecedented historical moment full of countless unknowns, I want to encourage all of us to continue giving to our local churches.
I’m going to step out on a limb here and risk sounding like some kind of manipulating televangelist, but the Church is not just some other nice charitable organization amidst a smorgasbord of philanthropic options. Something spiritually unique happens when you give to your church, something that goes far beyond just helping to pay pastors’ salaries, building mortgages, and program costs.
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Each time I get paid – whether my check is big or small, growing or shrinking – when I give the “first fruits” of that income to God through my local church, I am making a tangible declaration to me and my family that God is my ultimate provider and the foundation of my trust.
I’m not talking about some kind of magic elixir here. Tithes and offerings aren’t a snake oil that wards off economic collapse and physical sickness. In fact, suffering is part of the Christian experience. Jesus promised it (John 16:33).
But, if money is a tangible representation of our lives, our work, our contribution to the world, then when I give the first portions of whatever I make to my church, I am declaring boldly that no matter what is going on around me, my ultimate hope and trust are rooted in Christ. No matter what happens, I am under the shadow of His wings. He is with me at all times and in all seasons. That my God will supply all my needs according to His riches (Philippians 4:19). When the world is shaking, there is no place I would rather be.
In this terrifying time of uncharted financial waters, I just want to encourage you to keep giving to your local church. It’s not magic. It doesn’t mean you will be exempt from all the sinful effects of this fallen world. It’s not a give to get rich scheme. It’s a declaration. Give joyfully as an outward expression of an inward commitment that Jesus is where your trust is firmly rooted in this tumultuous season.