Pouring ourselves out in Extravagant Generosity
A retired minister once remarked, “The last part of a person’s life that Christ seems to gain Lordship over is their checkbook.” Jesus taught that we cannot love both God and money. John Wesley counseled disciples: make all you can, save all you can and give all that you can. A lack of generosity, Wesley believed, results in spiritual de-formation involving pride, greed and materialism which seriously undermines our love of neighbor and of God.
The best measure of a congregation’s effectiveness in helping disciples be liberated to live on less so that they can bless other by being Extravagantly Generous is: The total amount given annually by persons to the congregation for budget, capital and missional purposes.
This would include all contributions received by the church for these purposes annually. Pledge and loose plate offerings would be included. Funds given for capital debt, building or repairs would be included. Also included would be special offerings to ministries beyond the church; for example: the Children’s Home, a youth mission trip, Habitat for Humanity, Storm Recovery or a sister congregation in Cuba or Angola.
In short, all personal contributions funneled through the church treasurer should be counted. The funds excluded would be interest income, memorial bequeaths, facility use fees, and income from child-care, adult day-care ministries, thrift stores, pumpkin patches, and similar fund raising endeavors. These do not reflect immediately on the financial generosity of the worshiping congregation. (There is a sense in which memorial funds do reflect the financial generosity of the congregation. However, a single significant gift can also make the whole congregation look extravagantly generous, when in fact, that may not be true.)