There was a day when people attended Sunday services with faithful regularity. They would come prepared to fully participate in all activities, as often as the door was open. In advance, they would even write their tithe check, place it in a giving envelope, and stick it in their Bible, preparing to place it in the offering plate as it passed.
Today, your people are less regular in attendance, have limited discretionary time for church activities, and have minds that are filled with the thoughts coming from a busy modern world. Additionally, the discipline of planned, prepared, and proportionate giving is less and less likely. However, the conversation of generosity is more popular today than at any other time in my 30+ years of ministry experience.
This presents both an obstacle and an opportunity. The irregular, regular, and most loyal attenders of church are often sitting right before church leaders with empty hands. Their hands can be empty for a variety of reasons. Here are just a few:
- Cash and checks are becoming a less and less common form of commerce.
- Personal debt is high, which limits generosity.
- Busy schedules create busy minds which crowd out generosity thoughts.
- Weekend worship attendance is more sporadic.
- The habit of consistent, prepared, and planned giving is taught and practiced less.
Give this some thought, what if the only time a giver is reminded of and possesses the opportunity to give is the moment the offering plate is passing by them? They are caught off guard, somehow surprised by the moment, even though it happens every week. They shuffle through their wallet or purse, if they see the plate coming in time, maybe a hurried spontaneous gift is the result. Both the giver and receiver are being denied the biblical joy of generous living.
How do we help people not miss out on what God has designed for the best way to live? The Bible repeats itself often regarding the blessings of living the generous life. How do we help people no longer live with an empty hand before the Lord?
If we look back to scripture in one of the first books of the Bible, God has already provided for us. His desire is that no one live “empty handed.” When the children of Israel were being rescued from their lives of bondage, God had a plan. He actually filled their hands with the resources of the Egyptians. They would be miraculously delivered and provided for. Their future would be resourced by God and He would fill their empty hands as they walked out of Egypt toward their promised future. God desires no one to live empty-handed. He actually fills our hands!
‘And I will give these people such favor with the Egyptians that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.’ Exodus 3:21 (CSB)
Then, something powerful happens just twenty chapters later. These same resources that filled the hands of God’s people for their personal benefit will now be connected to a moment of generosity. God provided both for the giver and their actual gift. No one is to live empty-handed, nor are we to come before the Lord empty-handed. He fills our empty hands to be generous! Here it is.
‘Observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you are to eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, because you came out of Egypt in that month. No one is to appear before me empty-handed.‘ Exodus 23:15 (CSB)
God fills our hands for our benefit two times. First to meet our needs physically, then to meet our needs spiritually. We need to give to have more peace and more joy. It reminds us of who our provider is and how important it is to live reliant upon Him. There is truly no better way to live, than trusting God with our lives and being generous to Him and others.
So, how do we help people not live empty-handed? How do we help them get in on God’s preferred life? How do we help them experience His favor? The answer, fill their hands with the opportunity to live generously.
Turn the obstacles into opportunities…
- If digital commerce is on the rise, then turn a smartphone into an offering plate.
- If financial stress is high, then create a ministry that leads to freedom.
- If people are busy and distracted, then turn social media into a discipleship tool.
- If worship attendance is sporadic, then create a worship portal via an app.
- If the habit of giving is weak, then allow a “repeat gift” opportunity with a “click.”
Generosity by Lifeway is designed to help pastors and church leaders easily disciple busy, on-the-go, modern people. You do not have to be an expert on technology or church finances. We have done all that work for you. If you can view a video on your phone or select the cut/copy/paste option on your laptop, you can unleash giving. To learn more about our “two for the price of one” Generosity System, click here (www.lifeway.com/generosity). We have created a comprehensive digital giving platform embedded with decades of generosity coaching from experts across the country. These are joined nicely to a generosity resource library of sermons, small group curriculum, and training resources for church leaders. You are literally one click away from unleashing giving!