The Roadblock Between Scarcity and Abundance

by Patrick Johnson  |  June 5, 2018
The Roadblock Between Scarcity and Abundance

The Roadblock Between Scarcity and Abundance

By Patrick Johnson

As a church leader, if you knew a primary reason that kept people—including yourself—from being more generous, you'd want to share it with them, right? Of course you would. Well, let me share with you something I recently rediscovered.

As we work with church leaders to unleash generous disciples, we at GenerousChurch often run across some intriguing facts. For example, in our "My Generosity Story" surveys, we ask people in the church to share their whole-life generosity perspectives and practices.

The data consistently highlights a key theme—fear. And that's across the board, whether we're looking at churches in the suburbs or the inner city.
I was discussing this with my mentor, Lou, the other day, wondering what the source of this fear might be. We agreed that there exists what theologian Walter Brueggmann terms a "narrative of scarcity" among people in our churches today. With that narrative in place, when the conversation turns to money or generosity, often the first reaction is one of fear: "If we only have a limited amount to go around, resources must be controlled—we can't take risks for the kingdom."

A Self-First Mentality

That roadblock of fear coming from this narrative of scarcity is pervasive in today's culture. "You've got to take care of yourself first." "There's only so much to go around." As leaders and shepherds in the church, we've got to push back against this promotion of fear. Yet a good place to begin is with recognizing our own vulnerability.

A case in point: I have a good friend who leads a wonderful ministry. He just found out that they are poised to receive a million-dollar gift! While part of me gladly celebrates with him, another part is a bit envious—especially since I had a role in introducing him to his benefactor. Thoughts try to push into my head like, "There are a only so many pieces in the pie—what will happen if I miss out?" That kind of thinking leads directly to fear.

So How Do We Combat That Way of Thinking?

What's the opposite of a narrative of scarcity? It's a narrative of abundance. As church leaders, we need to cast a vision of abundance.
When talking about money or giving, the narrative of abundance begins to replace fear with generosity—open-handed, all of life released to God for the blessing of others.

When conducting an Overflow Experience in a church, we see that the scarcity vs. abundance conversation is often generational in nature. On the one hand, younger Christians, holding to the narrative of abundance, are much more open to taking risks. Older Christians, however, are more reluctant—their view of the future is wrapped in scarcity and the need for control. One older Christian recently confided, "I'm wondering if my greatest adventures for God are in my past."

And let's be real, I've been on my own generosity journey since 2002, and I still struggle with fear. "What if I give too much away?" "What if a generous act results is suffering for me and my family?" "Will my children end up having to take care of me?"

Taking steps to encourage interaction between generations, helping them to learn from each other, goes a long way toward bringing biblical balance and faith.

Making the Move

Moving from the narrative of scarcity toward one of abundance really starts with our view of God. Church leaders must help their people see God as Provider. Think about how Jesus described God as our Father-Provider –

"Our Father who art in Heaven, give us this day our daily bread." "Don't be afraid, little flock, your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom, therefore go sell your possessions and give to the poor." "Seek first the kingdom, and your Father will give you all these things that you need."
So when we communicate on the topic of generosity, we need to start with God not only as Owner, but Provider as well. Seeing God as Provider promotes the mentality of abundance. We come to understand that our role as God's children is to mirror His provision lavishly, extravagantly, as sowers of what God has provided to us.

If this idea resonates with you, we want to encourage you to get the free Generosity Reset eBook. It's a free e-book with practical training videos. This helpful tool advances the view of God as Provider through nine "resets" that we as leaders need to implement to grow generous, whole-life cultures and really turn the world upside down.

Also, please take a couple of moments to share your comments, ideas, and experiences below.

- PJ

This Month's Blog Video: In this clip, Patrick briefly shares his honest thoughts on the topic of scarcity vs abundance.

Please watch and share in your network!

Recommended Resource:

Generosity Reset
Generosity Reset - Discover 9 Resets to a Generous Church – Download the free eBook
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