I lied. Last month, I made the promise that this post I would discuss priesthood in more depth. I lied.
With the renewed focus on the topic of generosity from the church, I felt compelled to post my thoughts on the matter and how they relate to the mission of small cell ministry.
First off, I love the focus from the church on generosity. I believe that Christ calls us to be generous with our gifts, I believe that this generosity directly impacts mission and ministry, and I believe that members should be encouraged and priesthood should be expected to be generous disciples. For the most part, I am in full agreement with the dialog that is ongoing regarding generosity.
With that said, I see a few dangerous trends in this dialong that concern me. Namely…
1) Generosity automatically implies $$$
2) Local and World church mission carry similar generosity needs to enable mission
For the sake of space and time, I will not speak to World Church mission. It makes sense to me. The mission of the World Church requires financial donations. I believe the church has done an excellent job of allowing us to understand this mission, determine where we would like to contribute, and be informed as to how those initiatives are being lived out. Well done.
However, on the local level, I think it is much less clean.
I view generosity as a mission enabler. In other words, when someone is generous with their blessings it enables ministry to occur.
So, it’s hard to have a conversation on generosity without first understanding what is blocking ministry. Do you feel that the major blocker for congregational ministry from flourishing is money? I would “softly” argue that this is not the case.
In my view, local generosity needs are time and outreach. We need disciples giving time, energy, phone calls, personal visits, etc in the name of pastoral care and outreach…. Outside of Sunday church.
Within OnEdge, during the early days we stated that we wanted a congregation that did not take up offering during church. It’s a long story as to why we came to this conclusion which I will not go into, but it lead us to a place to come to terms with what generosity meant to our congregational mission. We came to the following conclusions (in order of priority) :
– We are called to be generous with our witness. Christ calls you to invite others and be active in lives of folks. When someone crosses your path and could use a church family, be generous with your invitation. When someone new comes, go out of your way to make them feel welcome.
– We are called to be generous bringing food and for our community to share in potluck at every church. We want you to be generous with your ability to cook, pick up food, and other things in order that we might share in communal meal prior to worship.
– We are called to give rides for folks that do not have means, if you are blessed with a car and gas, we need you to be generous with bringing someone to share with the church family.
– We are called to be generous making phone calls and visiting folks. If you have been blessed with time and communication facilities use them to engage your church family and folks outside the church family.
– We are called to donate money to support our small congregational budget.
Personally, I love this view of mission. It’s inclusive and even the poorest among my cell family feel that they can participate.
I’ll leave you with this… I simply encourage you and your congregation to openly discuss generosity and how it applies to your mission. Take time to think outside the box as to how generosity can be embraced by all of your church family in a way that serves as a light to your respective communities.
God Bless – Brian