Yesterday I received an email from City on a Hill as part of their Generous Campaign - a call to give generously to "help bring the goals of and vision of the church to life." The email was similar to most pledge emails. However, there was one big exception - the email explained in some detail how the pastors were committed to giving generously too:
"I want you to know that our pastors (including myself, Andrew, Simon, Luke, Nick and Neil) are excited by the vision that Jesus has for our city and we are "all-in!" And to give you a guide as to how we've responded — we've prayed, we've looked at our budget, and collectively – as 6 families – we've committed to making a one-off gift of $6,900 to coincide with our celebration service. In addition, we are pledging to support the work of City on a Hill over the next twelve months with a further $43,960. As a combined effort, that is $50,860 to support the mission and vision."
This inclusion is valuable for 3 reasons:
This example is extremely beneficial, and Randy Alcorn writes about it in his great book, The Treasure Principle:
"We need to know about the widow at church who lives on a low income and fasts every Thursday, then gives money to the hungry that she would have spent on food. It would have been an incalculable loss to my spiritual life not to hear the stories of Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, and R. G. LeTourneau. They lived as they did to please God, not me, but knowing what God did in them has been an inspiration to let Him do more in me".
The examples of the giving of others (and the devotional life of others, and the prayer life of others, and the evangelistic endeavours of others) can be both inspiring and practical. Where these examples aren't shared, when Christians aren't taught how to give, the consequences aren't surprising:
"Think about it. How does a young Christian in the church learn to give? Where can he go to see what giving looks like in the life of a believer captivated by Christ? Why are we surprised when, seeing no other example, he takes his cues from a materialistic society? We’re to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Shouldn’t we then be asking how we can spur one another on toward giving?"
With this encouragement, I shared my own story of how my wife and I give when I preached recently on 'Collect treasures in heaven'. PS - I don't agree with people who say that others shouldn't know how much we give to church. Here's why.