With so many debts to pay and so many things to buy, how do people become joyful and generous at the same time? In today's message, Pastor Tim Glende talks about what Jesus once said that reframes the way we think about money.
The episodes are the weekly sermons from 922 Ministries campus in Appleton, WI. St. Peter is in the north part of Appleton. The CORE is our downtown Appleton campus.
Week 3 - St. Peter
Pastor Tim Glende
So, I'm guessing if I asked each and every one of you here today, has either heard of a story of generosity. Or probably just as likely been on the receiving end of someone's generosity.
Like if you were to Google it, if you were to research the news stories for generosity, you would find a lot of them, you might find the one of a young lady named Liz Jensen in Utah, who was out shopping for the dress, for her big day. Found it, approached the person who had been helping her to set up the payment plan and she said that the lady who just walked out about a minute ago, who was trying on some dresses, but didn't buy any gave me her credit card to pay for yours.
Some of you probably have been a waiter or a server and you've been on the receiving end of something. Not so generous, but maybe receive that tip that you just said, wow. Like my son used to work at Mr. Brews when he was in college. And and two people from 922, who knew who he was sat down at this table, each ordered one beer, probably about 15 dollars, maybe at the most and paid for their their bill but left a 50 for him. Generosity.
Like I think of the example at our church, there's this summer when Koine, the band from Milwaukee, the guys gave up a day, came up to Appleton and had a concert to try to raise money. To bless the bast and family. Craig, a member of our church who passed away this week. We're blessed in the last months of their life by that generous act. And the generosity of a lot of people who gave resources to help their family, make it through the last few months, as Craig stopped working and they wanted to get the most out of his last few days.
Or maybe some of, you know, this individual or heard of his name. I want to get it right. Is his name is Where is it on my sheet? My eyes are really bad, Chad Castle. Anyone know, Chad. He was the 2021 volunteer of the year in the Fox Valley, like listen to the laundry list of places, he gives of his time, he volunteers at the camp, Hope for Kids the center for grieving children at the Boys and Girls Club. The Runaway and Homeless youth services and the center for suicide awareness. And that might not be enough because he also coaches Little League and, and helped launch Hope's House, a nonprofit that provides free grief support to children and their families in the greater Green Bay and Fox Cities area.
Someone is super generous with their time.
So I think we all know from experience what generosity is like or looks like or at least have an idea in our head. But I want to have a working definition today to truly understand it to apply it and get down to the conversation of how to be this. Showing a readiness to give more of something. As money or time than is strictly necessary or expected. Like general generous or generosity is best described by someone who goes over and above? And specifically a generous person goes over and above. I didn't make this definition up, I found it in the dictionary, in regards to money or time.
And my guess is all of us want to be generous. Amen.
Many of us think we're generous. Amen. Would like to know how to be more generous if we could work on it. Amen. But also have to admit. It's hard. Amen.
Like I say Amen after all, those not because I'm done, you know, that's not true because Amen means true.
And here's why I think it's such an important topic for us as a church. Generosity is two things in my mind, from a worldly perspective, and spiritual perspective. Generosity is, is something that is is complicated.
Like, it's a little complicated because as New Testament Christians, you know what? Jesus doesn't do that in the New Testament. He just doesn't make it easy. When it comes to generosity like in the Old Testament. God told his people. Here's what I need you to do. Look at what you make and give 10% to God. Like I'll be a person who loves checklists. Like if God said, here's what I want from you. Here's how you do it. Here's what it looks like. Oh, that's so easy. Thank you, God. But, you know, the New Testament isn't filled with very simple details like that. It gives examples of how to give encouragement how to, but there's a whole lot to the how to that makes it complicated because what does God want from me? Like, if God came up to you today and said, volunteer every Sunday at church, this is what you need to do. If it's on your heart and you'd say, Okay God, Does it say that? No, it's complicated.
And the second thing is that, it's challenging.
You know, it's challenging. Because being generous requires sacrifice of our two most precious resources. And I'm not talking about gold or oil. Which is pretty precious right now, obviously, because the prices went through the roof, I'm talking about time and money.
Like I'm preaching to a bunch of parents who are in here and you understand there's only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and you're trying to fill those days with just about anything and everything and there's so many good things and we don't get to all of them. We run out of it, we have to be selective with how we use it. It makes it challenging, doesn't it?
No, there's money. I feel Koelpin our former Pastor. Sorry, Pastor Koelpin taught me this amazing phrase. He said it jokingly but he understood what he was saying, he said, they're richer than God.
Like some people just have endless money this side of Heaven. They'll never run out. It's at their disposal. They've made good decisions and God is just overwhelmed with a lot. By the way, it's not true. They're not richer than God. But for most of us, money is not something that grows on trees. Nor is it endless, right?
And in the economy of today, whether you are a retiree or someone looking to retire or having just pay your bills with the economy, the way it is and inflation Rising the way it is. It's challenging, right?
So in the face of those two things, the challenge of it and the complexity of it. How does God want us to do that? Well, Be ready to give more than is strictly necessary or expected.
Now, here's the hard thing about this topic. The Give root has two components: time and resources. Your talents at work with your time and your resources at work for the kingdom and I probably could preach 35 minutes on both. Like that important there that is valuable and vital to the Gve root. So my goal today is to not do a disservice to either of them but to do a service to you and how to be that with both of those
The Bible has a lot to say about money. Jesus spoke about it often, the Bible speaks to it. The Bible says a whole lot about using your gifts, your talents, and your time to bless the church to bless the rest of the body to serve God. But before we get to how to I think the most compelling thing in in generosity and to be that begins with the “why” I could give you a whole lot of “what”? But if I don't give you the “why” the “what” is not going to matter, you won't probably follow through in how to see the Apostle Paul knew that. God inspired him to write that.
So before we get into how to and I pray I can give you three or four things to consider and put on your heart so that it's aligned with God. I want you to see the heart of God on the “why” to generosity. The Apostle Paul did that in chapters 8 & 9 as he's giving how-to advice, as he's calling God's people to do it to be generous, he stops and points them in the direction of generosity. And the “why” behind the “what” the Apostle Paul said, “by inspiration, since you excel in everything”, like the Corinthians had an amazing faith. They went above and beyond in speech, above and beyond and knowledge above and beyond in their earnestness to serve in the love, we have kindled in you.
But see also that you excel in the grace of giving, let your give root also go above and beyond. And here's the “why”, “For you know, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich yet for your sakes, he became poor so that you through his poverty, might become rich.”
If that wasn't enough in this chapter book ends of the “how to” generosity Paul leaves back and forth, in the directives of “how to” the “why” to look at chapter 9, it wraps up with the final verse that you're going to see in just a second. Reminds us of God is able to bless you. “So that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seating will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. And through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. Like, in the middle of all the, “how to” in the middle of the calls to action, to give, to excel in it, to move the needle, to step up in faith, to give generously, Paul comes back to time and time again by God's inspiration. The “why”.
See, the truth is generosity. Begins and ends with God.
For God. So loved God.
That he sent his one and only son God himself.
So whoever believes in him will have eternal life, the fruit. God, the Holy Spirit at work.
I mean, if you want to know what generosity is, if you want to know the “why” behind generosity look, no further than when you sit down in church, at that visual symbol of a generous heart.
Remember the definition? Generosity: “Someone that is eager to go above and beyond. What is necessary.”
And you know what? None of us deserved that.
That's why we call it Grace. God's undeserved love for you and for me, So that we would get what? What we don't deserve, Jesus endured what he didn't deserve, he generously gave of His life. He took His last breath. He extended His arms out willingly. So that you and I might know the grace of God that we might be spiritually rich.
The “why to” generosity begins and ends with God.
If you want to know how to be generous begin with, “why”.
Like, I want you to remember this truth when it comes to “how to” generosity. Generosity and God are synonymous. Like, when you're sitting down and thinking about how to be generous, how to use your time and resources and and strengthen your Give root, start there. Start there, comeback there. Go there, return there, remind yourself of that over and over and over again because without it, you'll never get it. Generosity will be hard and difficult. When you see the generous heart, the loving heart, the grace of God that though he was rich. He had at all because there is no one richer than God. He willing to become poor, gave it all up, so that you and I might have spiritual riches in heaven.
And if that's all that you get today, If that's all that you take away today, invest that, that's the only thing you celebrate today on the, how to generosity that, you remember the generous heart of your amazing loving God of Jesus Christ, who willingly died, the father, who willingly sent the Holy Spirit, who overflowed your heart with with the fruits of the spirit and the waters of baptism, and through His word.
Then, I'm okay. That's good.
But you notice what Paul said in that verse, when he talked about God and generosity being synonymous,
Knowing the generous heart of God, inspires and causes generosity to overflow in God's people. And through it. Other people know, God. You know “why” generosity and “how to” behind it is so important. Because when people see love in action, when people see their willingness to serve, when people see God's people sacrificing, you know what they ask, Why?
It's why I want to begin with the why but you know what? People will do, why and you get to tell them about God.
And that generosity overflows and Thanksgiving to God.
And so I want you to have that truth in your mind, but I maybe if you are willing to just, listen and take to heart and consider your give root right now, Where it's at. Does God have your heart? Is it aligned with God? Is it generous or not? So that you may consider how to take it up to the next level, how to instill a regular Give root in your life. What does that look like? What does that mean for you? What do you consider a day? No matter where you're at, on the phase spectrum? Well, if truth number one is true and if what God says, generosity is game changing in our life and interaction with the world. Then I think we need to understand this truth as well. If generosity in God are synonymous with generosity. If what Paul is encouraging them to do, he would have acknowledged was the case because he said he saw it and he called them to take a step up because they could excel in it. Not just the average in it generosity at 922 then has just like Paul said for the Corinthians measurable
Take a look at some of the numbers.
Like we had a lot of members volunteer to serve over the months of summer, 173 different members, across our campuses gave of their time that valuable resource like when they could have been on a boat or they could have been just up north every week or - just slept in and not not gathered. 173 different, unique members volunteered to serve on a Sunday at 922. Praise God. 245 new volunteers were added over the course of July through June of 2022 here, amazing. Like what a blessing that people saw the power of generosity with their time, our offerings last year, the financials increased 5% over budget 100K higher than we budgeted, which was 102k higher than last year. So amazing, what a blessing generosity of God's people's heart, Greater Things 1.0 and 2.0 last year combined as we launch Campaign Number 2, and continued campaign.
Number one, which is just people would say a church is ridiculously dumb for doing that. 1.5 million came into greater things. In another million is the pleasure of the next three years. Like, I don't want to shortchange. I don't want to minimize this. I want to celebrate and praise God, for the generosity of 922. Like, I tell my pastor riends about my church and they're like, “that's not normal”. Thank you, Pastor Jim for coining the phrase. Because it's not.
And that's a bunch of stats. That's measurable that reveals what's on the inside of you. Love for your God and your desire for that to be shared. Praise God. Thank you very much, like we see it. We know it. God sees it, and we're blessed by it and so many others are as well.
But the numbers are measurable and they don't lie.
On the other side of the coin, is this reality about generosity, the 37 percent of the volunteer positions were filled in the month of August. Like 2/3 of the volunteer needs on a Sunday morning here, went unfilled.
Like host ushers. Greeters coffee, people.
Almost 66%, 2/3. Not filled. Thirty percent of the members in attendance served at least one time during summer.
I noticed a keyword in there, the ones who attended like usually when it's the Give root sermon, you're like what Pastor Tim? You're preaching to the choir right now? I am because that's you. Like the half of our communicants who aren't here and don't come and gather regularly. This is the you only 30% one time in three months, sung up front, if that's your thing. Doing the slides, if that's your thing. Pass out bulletins, if that's your thing. Stood at the door and smiled, pretty, if that's your thing. Made coffee, if that's your thing. I mean, there's so many things that are so simple and easy to do.
But only 30% of those who came are.
Only 37 percent of our community members give regularly.
Like you've heard of the 80/20 rule and almost any business and nonprofit like 80% of the people do 20% of people do 80% of the work, the giving like our measurables are way different. It's about 35% do 65% but you know when you have 35 and 65 you know who suffers? One hundred percent.
And I know why this is, some of you are afraid.
The number one reason why people and money and God collide and cause tension is fear.
If that's your heart, if that's what's not, that's what's holding you back. Remember what God said before he's able to do immeasurably more. He’ll overflow you with blessings God wants your heart, just test him. See what He does. Start small, see what He does. If yours isn't regular see what he does,
And fear is one thing. And you know what, the other one is selfishness.
And I'm going to be honest with you, I'm selfish with my time. Like, I didn't want to use it yesterday to put a Blackstone together for my wife. I would have rather watch Game Day and football day. It's my time.
You know what I do often times when there's a work day here. I work here. I don't come back from work days here.
It's my time and I think I volunteer. I try and help out but I get it right. It's your time, it's your weekend, it's your Sunday, it's your time.
Like I don't know what the issue of your heart is but the odds are pretty good. All of us could improve on the, how to Generous. It begins with the “why to”, which understands that the numbers are measurable. But remember this about God. Here's the passage I want you to hold onto before I give you some “how to” ideas. Remember this whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Like you know what world experts, say about generosity. Like people who have no concern about the Bible says or what God says, generosity will do for you? Do you know that from a mental health perspective, the studies show that if you are generous with your time and you serve and bless others, if you're generous with your, with your resources and use them to bless others, mental health wise, the numbers are staggering of how anxiety and depression are not a part of your world. I'm not saying you won't face it or have it, but people who are generous, mental health is better. Better physical health, like it lowers, your blood pressure. It helps with so many other physical health things, generosity can be a blessing to you physically. Now it might not lower your cholesterol tomorrow. If you just go home and write out everything, your bank account the 922 don't do that, like what your doctor get some pills, you might need that. But it helps that the world would say that you'll reap when you're generous physically, mentally. But I would argue at the top of the list is spiritually. You'll increase your harvest of righteousness. Your joy will go through the roof.
I want you to hear something before I make a push to have you consider will you give one week? One week end, one day, one Sunday, a month to serve.
We have 1200 guests that walk through our doors were non-churched people. Some of you are maybe here today.
Of some 600 came back a second time, which is a staggering number for a church. And you know why they said they did that, why they came the first time in the ones that return multiple times? You. You.
Like, you at the door, smiling? You saying hi. You passing out a bulletin. You serving up here you in the coffee area making coffee. Like when people come to church and like you let me have coffee in church. Like can I get an amen? Yes like you and you know who can't do that without you and me. I need you. And it matters. People come back and hear the amazing word of God. It'll give you joy to know that what you do with your time. Let me tell you stories about the kids lives, the family's lives, the adults, who are baptized the kids, who are baptized on a regular basis, in our church, on a yearly basis, the overflowing tears that they have in their life because they came to a place where they learned about Jesus, that would not be possible without your gifts and your offerings, you It makes a difference not to my paycheck. It makes a difference to eternity in their lives. You, I need you. And God wants your heart. So here's a few “how-to's”. Like each one of you should use your gift, whatever you received to serve, others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. Some of you served regularly before, covid and stopped. After I know it was hard, volunteerism changed, maybe you need to just take the step back and when you leave, go and talk to somebody in our Volunteer Fair about, I want to Usher again. If you're new and you're not sure and you haven't gotten signed up, I have some people for you.
There's an amazing lady who's gonna be back there. Her name is Maria. She would love to sit down with you, talk about your strengths and get you plugged into something that you would be excited to do to bless 922 and serve God. Like Maria, remember her name, she's amazing if you want to get plugged into a Ministry opportunity on Sunday morning, we'd love to fill all those numbers. There's gonna be some amazing people back there. Who oversee, some of the things that we need on Sunday morning? Who can answer your questions if you just show up and say hi to them? My name is, they'll give you a bracelet that says you first You have to sign up.
Look, how about you? Use your time. One time a month. If you currently aren't doing it one time. Every two months, I'll take it one time. Every three months. I'm okay with it. Start out. See how it goes. Like, I get time is precious your resources are important. Just see what God does with it. And when it comes to your offerings, I want you to remember these four things. Each one of you should give what you've decided in your heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion for God, loves a cheerful Giver. Like, I don't know where you are on the Spectrum, but 66 percent of us don't give regularly God calls us to give regularly, give something
God wants your heart. He wants it to come from the right place. So if right now, you're not so sure. If right now, you're fearful of giving it, if you're considering going online or dropping something those baskets in the back today and your heart's not in it, you have my permission, I will hole punch your card, Any Sunday. You want to walk out of here, free. Give nothing, give nothing. Never give a thing. Keep coming back until that”Why” resonates with your heart? Okay. God wants a cheerful giver. God will get your work done without your money. That's who God is.
And when your heart is in the right place, maybe, if you're giving is that a certain place right now, maybe your step is to excel in it. Take it to the next level, like look at it evaluate what it is if it's regular and if it's in keeping with your income, can you test it? Add a little bit to it? What's, what would look like for you to excel in it from a time and resources standpoint, apply these principles on the first day of every week. Each of you should set aside a sum of money and keeping with your income, saving it up. So that when I come to a collection, it will have to be made like if you want to know how to give when we talk about, why we measure the regulars of once a month, God says, give regularly on the first day of every week. It's regular. Some of you get paid every other week, some you get paid once a month, some get paid every week, some may get paid sporadically, because you're on commissions.
And I don't know what it is. I don't care what it is, be regular with it. That's what God says, he cares about. You want your heart, set it aside, let it be first like think about it, pray about it. What is it that your company you want to set aside as a cheerful gift to God set it aside? Don't wait until all the bills are paid or all the extras are had or you get to have the cottage and the boat and everything else. And then God gets first, regularly set aside cheerful. Because God wants your heart.
I'm going to go ahead to the truth because I I just want you to understand the ultimate take away.
Like the “how to” begins with “why to”, if that's all you got today. Praise God. Celebrate. God's grace His generosity. He loves you. Heaven is yours. Nothing can take that away. I pray that “why” inspires your “how to” of what you might do? From a volunteer standpoint, check it out. Do the Volunteer Fair? Talk to Maria if you're not sure where to go. But can you do this? Can we do this? Can God's generosity Inspire this? Give what you can of your time and resources, just give what you can like regular. Cheerful. Like, for some of you, that's a step in the direction of your not and you will for some of you. It's the next level to excel just give what you can and see what God does.
Look, see what God will do. How you will reap generously, how others will be blessed through you. Because when you, when you give, what you can, you know, what God does he works in you, he works through you, he works for others, and God is praised.
Which is why Jesus said this. Because he experienced it, he lived it. It's more blessed to give. Than to receive.
And that is my amen. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, like your grace is sufficient for us. You're generous to us, generosity is such a visual of who has her heart and we want you to have our heart. So I pray, you just work on our hearts today. I love our Church's generosity. So many pastors, Lord, would love to have a church so generous. I just know you want all of us to be generous because you want our hearts. So use the generosity of God's people here, Lord to do even greater things and work on our hearts filled with our time and our resources, we might be a blessing to others and that you might benefit initely bless us with all the spiritual fruits that you long for us to have joy and contentment and peace and hope because the generous heart of God inspires us to give.