Monday, May 5, 2014

All Around the Web - May 5, 2014

Chuck Lawless - 10 Ideas to Improve Giving in Your Church
  1. Teach what the Bible teaches. While some debate whether the New Testament teaches a tithe (10%), it is clear God expects believers to give cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7), regularly (1 Cor. 16:2), and sacrificially (Mark 12:41-44). If we don’t teach this mandate intentionally and passionately, we should not be surprised when our congregations don’t give. Fear of teaching about financial stewardship results only in a greater need to teach about it later.
  2. Model sacrificial giving. Years ago, my wife and I made a commitment to give more – not less – to the work of God any time we worry about finances. For us, financial worry is typically an indicator that either (a) we aren’t spending and saving wisely, or (b) we aren’t trusting God like we should. Our philosophy is that we should give to God’s work until it hurts – that is, until it stretches us our faith. Only then am I comfortable challenging others to give more.
  3. Passionately and clearly cast a God-sized vision for your congregation. God’s people are not opposed to giving; they are opposed to supporting a weak or unclear purpose. Churches that seek dollars simply to keep their doors open to minister to their own people aren’t likely to garner support from a young generation committed to the nations. Ask your congregation to state your church’s vision in a single sentence; if most can’t do it, I suspect you’re missing out on financial support as well.
  4. Teach budgeting and spending – not just giving. I’m amazed by how many of my  students operate without a budget. For some, debilitating debt is already keeping them from the mission field. Others live from  week-to-week, yet pay too little attention to their spending habits. God’s people will give more to His work if we help them first learn to budget and spend well.
  5. Train children and students to give. I tithe today is because my first pastor taught me to do so. From my first paycheck as a grocery stocker at age 16, to my first paycheck as a pastor ($45 per week in 1981), to my most recent paycheck as a seminary dean, I still hear my pastor say, “Give God the first part, and trust Him with the rest.” What began as a step of obedience, and at times was a step of faith, has now become an act of worship. God has never let me down.
  6. Promote incremental increases. Sometimes, the concept of giving a certain percentage is frightening to folks who have given only minimally. Rather than challenge them to leap into a tithe, challenge them to increase their giving incrementally. Each increased percentage may still be a step of faith. Even an extra $5.00 per family per week can strengthen your church’s work.
  7. Tell the stories of changed lives. If you want your church to give more, show them what God is doing through the church. Plan testimonies in the services. Invite missionaries to speak. Highlight a different church ministry each month. Ask staff members to send regular emails, putting the spotlight on transformed lives. Ministries themselves seldom attract more dollars, but changed people do.
  8. Lead your church to drip with financial integrity. Review your church’s process for receiving and distributing funds. Who counts and deposits the funds? How are the records handled? How are expenditures approved? How many people sign checks? Are the books audited annually? The work we do is God’s work, and anything less than absolute integrity will lack His blessing.
  9. Challenge the church with a “Day of Sacrificial Giving.” Invite your church members to give one week more than they’ve ever given. For some, that might mean giving a tithe for the first time. For others, that might mean increasing their giving for one week to the breaking point – to a point of faithful discomfort. Some will develop a pattern of increased giving from this one challenge.
  10. Guide your church to pray as Jesus taught us, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  This simple and direct prayer recognizes that all we have is a blessing from God. Perhaps if we prayed this way each day, we would remember that nothing we have is really ours – and consequently be willing to give back to God more that is His already.

Justin Taylor - When We Are Not Robustly Trinitarian, Our Gospel Will Not Be Robustly Christian

Denny Burk - Why the NBA is right and Mozilla is wrong
As you no doubt have heard by now, the NBA has banned Donald Sterling for life from the league (see announcement above). They have also fined him $2.5 million and are pressuring him to relinquish his ownership of the LA Clippers. All of this happened in the wake of revelations that Sterling had made racist remarks in a private conversation.

Folks are rightly wondering about the consistency of supporting the NBA’s decision to punish Sterling’s unpopular views on race while opposing Mozilla’s decision to punish Brendan Eich for his unpopular views on marriage. Isn’t this inconsistent? I don’t think it is, and I explain why in a short piece at “The Federalist.” Read it here.

LigonierGod's Glory in Judgment

Doug Wilson - Seven Theses on Submission
1. Bible plainly teaches the submission of wives to their own husbands. At the end of the day, our generation has a quarrel with the apostles of Jesus Christ. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18). “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Tit. 2:4–5). There are certainly difficulties of application that will arise in a sinful world, about which more below, but if we swear off any hermeneutical horsing around, there is no difficulty in understanding the basic standard that is to be applied.

2. Having stated the first principle, we must immediately begin to deny false inferences from it. In the Christian understanding, the mere fact of submission is not a premise from which inequality can be derived. There is a craven kind of submission that does imply inequality, but this is not the model given to Christian husbands and wives. The ultimate model we have is the submission that Jesus rendered to His Father, and it is a crucial point of orthodoxy that His submission to His Father was an indication of His equality with the Father, not His inequality. “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6–7, ESV). The Son of God is equal to God the Father, and submitted to God the Father. This is what the Christian model of headship and submission looks like–equality and submission together.

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