This blog is part of a 3-part series about generosity. We want to take some intentional time this year to share what we believe about giving, the impact of your giving, and to invite you to start giving regularly to Pulpit Rock if you haven’t considered it before!
If you have been here at Pulpit Rock for any length of time you know we love to talk about giving when it’s connected to stuff we really care about and believe in. Every year in November & December we take time each week to share about ways God is at work here in our city and around the world, inviting you to participate in that work by giving to our Christmas Offering. In the past five years alone you have helped us raise $887,000 for those projects and partners, which honestly takes my breath away.
We also have designated accounts for refugees, human trafficking, missions, and neighboring and care ministries like Love Your Neighbor and the Pando Collective that many of you give to all year long.
While we talk a lot about ways to be generous to all of that kingdom work outside our walls, we don’t often invite people to give regularly to Pulpit Rock and that’s something we need to get better at.
Let’s be honest… there are a lot of approaches to talking about giving in church that are often done poorly and with little thought. Intentionally or unintentionally, we have all heard appeals in church that sound a bit misleading or were just downright manipulative. One of the reasons we don’t talk a lot about giving to our church is we know that some of you who have found a home here have been hurt by churches who have handled asks around giving poorly.
Here are some of the asks I have experienced and maybe you can relate.
An end of year giving campaign with lots of storytelling about its “kingdom impact” but one where the majority of the money raised goes to cover the giving deficit for the year and only a small amount goes to the actual thing the stories were about.
Or a capital campaign where you were pressured for a faith pledge to fund building construction and the church over-spiritualized the ask by telling you of the “eternal difference” the larger sanctuary or kids building will make on the community and attendance.
Or maybe just a pastor or spiritual leader saying that the bible “clearly says” you should give 10% and if you really want to honor God and experience his blessings you should just jump in and do the hard thing and start giving your 10%.
Now I think all of those appeals are well-intentioned and it’s not that they don’t carry some truth, but none of them tell the whole truth.
Does the bible talk about tithing? It does talk about it in the Old Testament, and the 10% idea comes from the Hebrew translation of the word tithe which means 10. There were lots of rules about tithes and offerings for the Israelites… they were expected to give the first tithe, a festival tithe, and even a poor tithe every third year in addition to the different sin, dedicatory, and communal offerings they would give throughout the year. It was a regular part of their civic and religious duties and was part of how the temples and civil government functioned in Israel.
But when Jesus came He introduced a new perspective on tithing and offerings and you see that in the New Testament. He endorses the practice of tithing and encouraged the Jewish believers, scribes, and pharisees to continue the practice but exhorts His followers to hold a different attitude and perspective about it.
The New Testament teaching about giving and money is summarized well in 1 Corinthians:
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (1 Corinthians 10:26)
It’s a belief that God owns everything and that you and I are “stewards” of it. Our money, our time, our talents, and our energy all belong to God and we are just caretakers of it looking to invest it wisely.
Paul’s instructions to Timothy also capture an important principle.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17)
Money can’t buy our happiness. It might buy some peace for a moment, but happiness comes from our relationship with God not from what we gain. Giving to God and being generous reminds us of this truth. Our generosity is an antidote to the materialism that surrounds us.
It’s relevant to our following Jesus that you and I live in the wealthiest country in the wealthiest time of history the world has ever known. Our money and the way we think about our money has enormous potential to deform us and make us less like Christ if we aren’t careful. But it also can be one of the tools God uses to shape something new in us if we let Him. To form our hearts and how we view and see the world and His Kingdom in new ways.
So what does Pulpit Rock believe and teach about giving and tithing? Paul says it well to the church in Corinth.
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
What you will hear us encourage you to do is to have a conversation with God about your money, and do whatever He tells you to do.
And if there is a part two to that, it would be to have that conversation with God often.
There are lots of incredible things you can give your money to, and we want to humbly ask that you would consider giving regularly to Pulpit Rock as one of those things. We believe in what God is doing here and the ways He is leading us as a church and want you to be part of it!
Honestly some of the things your money goes to at Pulpit Rock aren’t sexy and some of the things don’t even seem that spiritual. It costs money to run a church. To heat the building, pay staff, and clean carpets. We work hard to steward all of those expenses well, and we are constantly stretching ourselves to give us as much as possible to Kingdom work outside our walls. We celebrated being debt-free this year as a church and a huge piece of that was stewarding the resources of our facility well and renting it during the week to make sure more of the dollars you give to Pulpit Rock can be directly invested to Kingdom work here in our city and around the world.
There would be no Pulpit Rock without your faithful giving. We are able to be the church that God has called us to be for such a time as this in our city because of your partnership. If you have never had a conversation with God about giving to Pulpit Rock or you haven’t had that conversation in a while, can we invite you to do it?
If He is leading you to partner with us by giving regularly to Pulpit Rock you can do that at pulpitrock.com/give.
And be on the lookout for the next blog in his Generosity series at the end of the month. We are excited to share in detail what your generosity looked like in 2023 and all we were able to do and invest in because of it!