Spotlighting Whole-Life Generosity in the Early Church

by Patrick Johnson  |  September 6, 2018

>>>Be sure and watch this month's video clip below from Patrick Johnson on this blog topic.<<<

Have you ever thought about the radical generosity displayed in the early church? A recent message by Tim Keller really piqued my interest.

He said that secular historians of that day wondered how Christianity was able to spread so rapidly across the Roman Empire. Their research led them to identify four characteristics of the early church that caused the extraordinarily rapid growth –

1. There was no racism. They had broken down the walls dividing free and slave, rich and poor. By God’s grace they were equal.

2. There was a high value placed on life. In the midst of the pagan Roman culture, where death ruled and there was little regard for the sanctity of life, you suddenly had a group of people who were really committed to life for all people.

3. They were sexually pure. They were committed in marriage to sexual purity, being faithful to one another, in a culture that was sexually promiscuous.

4. They were radically generous. They cared for one another. They cared for people within the body and outside the body.

And what fascinated the historians—and grabbed my attention as well—is that here was a group of people who represented the spectrum when it came to possessions and power and prestige. Yet they consciously and consistently leveraged all of that for the Kingdom of God, expressed through radical generosity. [Tweet This]

What We Need to Consider Today

Here's what I think that we need to consider in our churches today. Somehow we have confused biblical generosity—the kind the church showed in the Book of Acts, the kind that spurred the church’s spectacular growth—with fundraising as practiced within our church cultures today. And I think we do that to our detriment.

Why is it a Detriment?

First, because I see it everywhere we go—in church after church there exists a pervasive skepticism when it comes to stewardship and generosity. People wonder what our motive is when we raise the subject, what’s our agenda. This skepticism flows from a confusion between true biblical generosity and fundraising.

Second, I see that we as leaders are reluctant to press into the subject of stewardship because of this skepticism. It’s hard to shepherd and disciple people holding this attitude, and our hesitation flows out of this confusion of what true biblical generosity is.

Third, if the people we’ve been entrusted to lead are confused, then they aren’t experiencing the true life that God intends. By that I mean every way of life except the generous life is a counterfeit life.

Only when we lead and nurture our people to become devoted followers of Jesus in their finances and giving will they begin to experience the overflow of whole-life generosity and move from an act of giving to a way of living. [Tweet This]

And fourth, sadly, we aren’t seeing the Kingdom of God coming to earth as it is in heaven. We're not experiencing that flourishing of the Kingdom that comes through people living radically generous lives because we've confused biblical generosity with fundraising. As leaders, with God’s help, we've got to change this conversation from fundraising to disciple making, from fundraising to kingdom making, for the good of our people, for the good of our churches and for the good of the world.

An Invitation

So let me invite you to take a step in that direction. Download our Generosity Reset ebook, where we list nine resets to change the conversation in your church from fundraising to disciple making.

Start your own journey around this, and let's recapture the impetus of the early church, following their example of radical, biblical generosity. And when we do this, we will turn the world upside down.


Watch This Month's Clip 

In this video clip, Patrick shares his insights about whole-life generosity in the early church.  

Please watch and share in your network!

Recommended Resource:

From an act of giving to a way of living--discover the 9 resets to grow a generous church.

Download your free copy of this eBook. 

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