Barriers to Church Growth #7 (Self-honoring Giving)

A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“People think of giving as being for their own honor.”

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” – Matthew 6:2-4 KJV

I don’t have a problem with buildings, wings of buildings, rooms, sanctuaries, pews, or stained-glass windows being named in honor of people. It’s when those people give money in order have their names put on those things.

One of the most commonly used complaints against the church is, “They only want your money.” Just throw a rock into any crowd and the chances are high that you’ll hit a disgruntled, self-proclaimed atheist who thinks that way.

But even though most churches aren’t all about money (if they were, then why are so many struggling with tight budgets?), there are some folk within the church that like others to know how much money they have. These are the ones who pay the bills, and everybody knows it.

Jesus spoke of those who give just to be seen. I know people like that. They don’t give anonymously, heaven forbid. No, they hold a new conference and write an over-sized, four-foot-long check to the church, while posing for the camera.

These are the people who think they have more say-so in the congregation of believers. They think they have earned the right. Some even give in order to purchase titles, such as “prophet.” What’s worse, that very practice is applauded within a particular denomination. How sad.

What we need are more people who are willing to give because they love the Lord, not praise. I love the scene in Facing the Giants where a wealthy man gives the coach a new truck. Then he looks over at his son and says something like, “Don’t you say a word.” Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

God gives to us so that we can give to Him. When it is money that we give, it is to be for His glory, not ours. So, if you want recognition, why not wait a little while for the kind that will come from your Heavenly Father?

The praise of men is worthless, if not simply envy in disguise. 


Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Barriers to Church Growth #7 (Self-honoring Giving)

  1. When we built our new building a few years back, we quickly discovered that pews are a HUGE expense. Crazy how much they are. Anyway, the church drummed up lots of support getting many people to buy a pew or two. Many did, and most of that expense was covered that way, to the tune of something like $30,000. Yet, not a pew has a name on it, and nobody except the treasurer knows who paid for one or more.

  2. Two experiences. Shortly after we transferred to a mission church in our then denomination, my wife and I wanted to ensure that there was a Bible in each pew alongside the Prayer Book and Hymnal. We made arrangements with a local Christian bookstore to purchase a 100 Bibles. When the time came to dedicate the Bibles for God’s glory, the priest, against our stated wishes, called us forward.

    Fast forward about thirty years to the large church we now attend. One of the reasons I like this church is everything is cash and carry ~ no debt. We have a set of modular buildings that are going on 20 years old that house the younger kids ministry and grade school during the day and various adult ministries at night that are held together with bailing wire and duck tape. So we embarked on a fundraising effort that is called Imagine by Faith. The initial goal was to raise $3.2 million for the design, permits, and construction of the infrastructure the City was requiring us to do even before we could think about the construction of the 1700 sq ft building that would replace the old modular buildings. Well, about a year into the campaign, Pastor announced that as the deadline was approaching for the permitting process one family stepped forward with a check for the entire $3.2 million. Our donations are going forward fo the actual building. To the best of my knowledge, no one but the Pastor and our Finance Director knows who that family is. Yes, we do have some fairly wealthy almond and dairy farmers, but this is not Silicon Valley!

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