Generosity as a Church: Releasing Your Best

By Bland Mason

How much should a church give to church planting or missions in general? Should a church plant or existing church give away people to help start new churches?

When it comes down to it, generosity is one of the most appreciated and celebrated values in ministry, especially when it is someone else being generous to us. But what about when we are given an opportunity to be generous?

When you look at the early church there was a spirit of generosity both of people and resources. Whether it was the church at Antioch sending out Paul and Silas to go preach and start other churches (Acts 13) or the church in Macedonia giving gifts to support the church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8-9), the early church was marked by giving away people and resources.

The church I planted a little over four years ago, City on a Hill Church (CoaH), has had the great joy of planting two churches directly and financially supporting six others. With our two church plants, both planters served with us as church planting residents for one year before we sent them out with people (roughly tithing our church attendance with each). Our financial support for the other church plants has been modest but has been a blessing to the church planters. As we grow we hope to increase generosity in both areas.

A Few Thoughts on Being Generous

I have been asked, “How has City on a Hill planted two churches already?” The answer has less to do with us and more to do with what God is doing. The right planters, the right church partners, and the right timing all  have played significant roles in the situation in ways that we simply could not have orchestrated. That said, CoaH needed to be willing to get behind these plants with people and resources.

Without a hill to climb or a vision to stretch our faith, most churches will continue to simply press on to higher levels of mediocrity. The mission of God locally and globally is that hill and vision that ALWAYS stands before every church of Christ. 

Few people or churches are generous without intentionality. So how should your church think about using their resources, time and people to make the maximum kingdom impact?

1. Be generous enough that it requires faith for God to supply your needs

Without a hill to climb or a vision to stretch our faith, most churches will continue to simply press on to higher levels of mediocrity. The mission of God locally and globally is that hill and vision that ALWAYS stands before every church of Christ.

Sometimes people apply texts like Philippians 4:19 (“my God will supply every need of yours”) to situations that involve neither a “need” nor God, if everything goes as strategically planned. I’m not sure that is what was meant when Paul said it. If you can plan out exactly how giving away X people and X dollars will ultimately turn out totally fine for your church, I’m not sure you are being generous enough.

2. Be wise enough to manage people and resources well

The call to be generous with people and money is not a call to foolishness. The biblical call to walk by faith does not negate the biblical call to plan and act wisely. There are times to stretch in a way that appears foolish to those on the outside and there are times to simply use what God has given you as a good and wise steward.

I knew a new church plant that decided to give 50% of their income away. It worked great early on because giving was growing tremendously and the budget cost had not caught up with growth. A year or so later they had to rethink things as giving settled into a more steady growth pattern. Now, maybe someday they will be able to give 50% away but in the meantime they need to balance management and generosity.

3. Create a culture of sending and generosity

Creating a culture of sending and generosity takes time and rarely happens accidentally. Suggestions for creating this culture include: talking about it regularly from the pulpit in many ways; preaching mission in a way to help create a holy discomfort in your people; addressing the idols of greed and comfort; and holding up examples of faith and generosity both in and outside your local church.

The truth is fostering generosity in a church is a never-ending process, but it is one we can grow in because we have a generous Savior and a God who sent his Son for us.

Published January 5, 2015

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Bland Mason

Bland planted City on a Hill Church in Boston in 2010 and serves as the lead pastor. He and his wife, Teresa, have three kids. They moved their family to Boston in 2008 to spend the rest of their lives investing in a church planting movement in the city and region. He holds an M.Div. and a Ph.D. from Southern Seminary and has taught adjunct for Campbellsville University and Boyce College. Bland serves on the side as the chapel leader for the Boston Red Sox.