Giving is Love for Others.
Before he ascended, Jesus established a community of love - in the Greek, the word is agape (John 13). Agape is the picture of people graciously welcoming and providing for one another, as in a meal. This was fleshed out in mutual concern and responsibility for the spiritual, physical and emotional well-being of everyone who came to be a part of the Body of Christ, belonging to one another in him. It was relational and economic. Tangible. In short, it was the Church. Fundamentally, the act of giving to the Church is an expression of this love as it provides the spiritual leadership, pastoral care and basic provision for the needs of the community, including the basics of meeting space and administration. Since the earliest days of the Tabernacle, our God has called his people to be generous to one another and also to provide for the worshipping culture - the priesthood, the Temple and, eventually, the Church.
Giving is Worship, Our Response to God.
Giving financially is a response to God’s boundless grace and generosity. It’s a form of worship acknowledging and expressing that all we have, as individual members of one Body, comes from God. Giving glorifies and honors his abundant generosity and reflects it back toward him as those made in his image and likeness. Giving also says we aren’t afraid of lacking anything because God is our source and we trust him. King David, a true worshipper, said this in I Chronicles 29:12-14, which is what we recite every Sunday:
”…Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
Giving is for Everyone.
Throughout redemptive history, giving was a dignity and opportunity extended even to the poorest in the community. Consider the widow Jesus praised for her generosity, though she gave only two, nearly-worthless, copper coins. Jesus called hers an abundant gift. So everyone who has an income can give something. But should everyone give? We get uncomfortable when told we should do something, especially when it comes to money. (It’s worth asking why we’re so touchy about that. Jesus says it’s because we trust money too much and even serve it like an idol.) The truth is, shoulds make the world go round. Wisdom is discovering how the world works and how we should respond to what we know. Imperatives are what lead us to make better decisions, which is why Christ and his apostles offered many healthy “shoulds” to the community of grace. And giving was one of them. The Scriptures teach us we should give to honor God (above), to keep our loves rightly ordered and to express through giving our love for those who benefit from the Church - her provision of Word, sacrament, pastoral care and equipping, to name a few.
Giving is a Biblical Means to Blessing.
We are stewards, not owners. A steward is a person who has been entrusted with and who manages another’s resources according to the owner’s vision and values. Each of us was created for stewardship by God (Gen 1:28), both a ruler with authority to govern resources and a servant accountable to the owner of the resources. Jesus taught stewardship and blessing in Luke 6, the Sermon on the Plain. He was merely restating and renewing the blessing principle in Malachi 3:6-12. He said:
”Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” The message that God blesses those who give has often been exploited. But unadulterated by greed, this principle is Biblical and therefore immutable. Because we are stewards of God’s blessing, he has promised to bless us when we are faithful with them. Jesus also said in Luke 16 that what we do with our temporal blessings (“little”) determines what God will entrust to us beyond them (“much”). So giving is an invitation to greater blessing. It’s not only freedom from scarcity and idolatry, but it also avails us to divine abundance. If we are not good stewards, living in scarcity or greed, we will worry more about or fixate on our money, regardless of how much we have. This robs us of the joy of being the stewards God created us to be.
How much should I give?
Because the NT standard of giving is generosity, the amount is a matter of faith, prayer and conscience. The Old Testament teaches that we are to give back to God our “first fruits” (Exodus 23:16, 19). Proverbs 3:9 encourages us to “honor the Lord with [our] wealth, with the first fruits of [our] increase” meaning the primary and choicest of our possessions. The New Testament does not negate the underlying principles (see the next FAQ). Fundamentally, God has modeled “first fruits” by giving us his Son, Jesus Christ. Our response to God should reflect our love of and devotion to him and to the Church he has set apart. There are seasons in our economic lives, to be sure. There are financial responsibilities to our families, friends, communities, and in some cases, creditors. We all have them. But in any stage of life, good, prayerful planning is necessary to maintain or increase our giving without neglecting our other financial obligations.
What’s the deal with tithing?
In the Old Testament, the principle of the tithe (10%) was established to give everyone, no matter their level of prosperity, a sense that they are giving equally - as a community. God’s people were called to give a tenth of their income to the support of the ministry and the needs of the poor. They gave everything from flour and olive oil to livestock and gold. The New Testament teaches that we should give as we are “able and even beyond [our] ability” (2 Corinthians 8:3). Therefore, the tithe (10%) is arguably seen as a kind of minimum guideline for giving, expanded in the new covenant. In the New Testament, Jesus told the Pharisees that they should tithe as they were already doing, while not neglecting justice and love (Luke 11:42). And in the earliest days of the Church, believers continued to teach and follow the principle.
Should I give all of my tithe and / or offering to Village Church?
The answer to this is a qualified "no." Your gift is an act of personal worship to God in response to his grace in your life and the gift of his Son. The allocation of your money and time to God’s service should be a byproduct of prayer and of consultation with other Christians to whom you are accountable. However, if you consider Village Church your “home church,” consider allocating a significant portion of your tithe and offering to the community to whom you belong, where you invest most of your time and where others are investing in you as an agape fellowship.
How does Village Church meet our vision through giving?
From the beginning, Village Church’s vision has been to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments - to make disciples and to love God and our neighbors in tangible, not abstract, ways. 100% of Village Church’s operating budget comes from the weekly giving of our members and regular attenders. Your giving counts. It might be tempting to think that your individual contributions do not make a difference to the work that is being done. However, every gift adds up to mutual effort of advancing Christ’s vision for Village Church. Note: Our income and expense reports are always available to our members in full transparency. It all belongs to God!