In an earlier article I outlined ten common objections that I have encountered for why people don’t give. Most of the excuses originate out a sense of scarcity of resources as opposed to abundance. Giving is presented as an after-thought; as something to be engaged in after everything else has been taken care of.
If we were to turn this mindset of scarcity on its head, we would encounter all kinds of reasons why people should give—and give up front, before everything else takes priority. As a stewardship educator, I am convinced that people want to give. They cannot help but see the ministry taking place in their midst, and the need to resource programs and parish activities. Yet they hold back—out of fear, inadequacy, lack of information or misunderstanding. Some see the church like any other charity and avoid giving back to God what is God’s in the first place.
A theology of abundance is one where we recognize the giftedness in others and the awesome potential to do ministry through the church. In his book “From Scarcity to Abundance: A completed guide to parish stewardship,” the Rev. David Ponting reflects on this bounty in saying: “in John 10:10, Jesus declares ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ Jesus teaches us that the proverbial cup is not half empty or even half full, but overflowing.”
We are overflowing in riches, yet many of us persist in the belief that we will never have enough. As a result, insecurity becomes the norm. To help us overcome this tendency, here are ten reasons why we should make giving a way of life:
- We have already received the free gift of life and its accompanying benefits
- We have a need to give thanks
- Giving is a way we live out our baptismal promises
- Giving imitates God’s love for us
- It feels good to give
- It is a privilege to be asked
- Giving allows us to share our giftedness and feel connected to a bigger cause
- In giving we also receive – we recognize more fully the needs of others, experience humility and avert our tendency toward materialism
- Giving transforms lives and makes the world and our experience in it, better
- The church, as a vehicle for ministry, needs our support
In all that we do to encourage generosity, it is important to avoid using guilt as a motivator. Guilt will never inspire joyful giving and is completely contrary to gospel values. Scripture abounds with stories about blessings received, generous acts committed, joyful service to others and meals and celebrations of thanksgiving. All of this is done in the context of giving freely, abundantly and graciously. This is the example that Jesus himself gave us.
Ultimately it is grace, patiently nurtured, that leads to generosity. By developing a culture of stewardship in our parishes – day in and day out, year after year – we can begin to view giving through a completely different lens.