Guest Blog: Simple Giving by Matt Wheeler

Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Blog | 1 comment

Guest Blog: Simple Giving by Matt Wheeler

by Matt Wheeler

How does the Bible inform our views on giving?

God owns everything and everything that we have comes from him (1 Chron. 29:11-12):

“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.  Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”

We see examples of giving as a personal expression of worship (even before any laws were given to Israel concerning giving).   Abel (Gen. 4) and Abraham (Gen. 14) are two examples.  Then, when the law was given to the Israelites, God, in his grace certainly included giving in the regulations for a healthy and prosperous life.   Each offering in the law had an intended purpose, and each of those purposes pointed toward the greatness of God.    But we see evidence in scripture that these giving regulations were boiled down by the religious leaders into obedience-only rituals.  In Luke 11:42, Jesus calls out the Pharisees on this:

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give a tenth of your mint, rue, and all kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God.   You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

They were so meticulous about counting out a tenth of every small thing that they missed the purpose of giving which is at its heart an act of worship that helps align our heart to God’s heart.  Look at Jesus’ words in Luke 21:2 as he watches a poor widow give a tiny offering:

“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all the others, All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

When Paul was teaching churches how to give, he says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

Looking at these verses as a starting point, we can begin to see that a Godly view of giving is first and foremost a heart issue.   When talking about Biblical giving the question of “how much should I give?” always comes up.  I’ve heard many people say “10%” and there are certainly examples of people in the Bible giving 10%, but Jesus makes it clear that if we just count out 10% and give it, we are missing out on the most important aspects of giving.

How does the idea of Simple Church challenge our cultural views of giving?

As we started exploring the idea of simple church, we asked the question, “What is the Church?” and we very quickly found the truth in scripture:  The Church describes people.   This was a simple truth to understand, but culturally, I still use the word church often in sentences like:

“Where is your church?”

“When does church start?”

“Why don’t you call the church and see if they can help?”

In these sentences I realized that I referred to “church” as a place, a service, or the people that are paid to do ministry.

The concept of simple church, where we are the church, has helped me to clarify these ideas.   In the same way, I am now being challenged again in my ideas of giving.  Where should our gifts go?  In my old view of church I guess I just figured that my gifts should go to a place, a service, and people that are paid to do ministry. Paying a church’s mortgage and helping keep the facilities running isn’t cheap.  Great worship services like the ones I enjoy take a lot of hard work from paid staff and volunteers throughout the week to make that happen.  And there are certainly enough needs to keep any full time minister swamped.

But what if we have really changed our views of church.  Can we be the church without a huge building?   Can we experience fellowship, worship, and teaching over a dinner table?  Can every one of us be the ones that do the ministry?

I think so.  When I look at how gifts were used in the early church, two themes emerge very clearly.  Support church planters (1 Corin. 9) and gifts to the poor (2 Corin.9…and almost everywhere else in the Bible).

How will gifts to Simple Church Alliance be used?

For church planters.

  1. Right now, Gavin and Karla are working full time in planting churches and building these churches up in Christ so that more churches may be planted.   Gavin’s time and energy is devoted to this as his primary mission.
  2. As our giving grows, we hope to be able to offer grants to individual house churches that take on community projects that are beyond their own financial needs as a group.
  3. A portion of the gifts to Simple Church Alliance will be given to The Great Commission Fund, which is the fund set up by the Christian and Missionary Alliance for the spread of the gospel throughout the world.

As for giving to the poor and other ministries, we want each person, family, and house church to give generously to those ministries that God has set in their hearts.   We want to keep giving simple so that God can empower each of us to BE THE CHURCH.

How can we give to Simple Church Alliance?  Click Here for Details

Important notes:

-Gavin and Karla do not see any individual giving amounts.

-These funds are currently administered by the board of First Alliance Church, until Simple Church Alliance is officially launched as an independent non-profit.