Maybe Money Really Does Grow on Trees

by Patrick Johnson  |  February 8, 2018
Money tree
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

What if you were 98 years old? Consider the year 1919 and imagine your town. Was it even recognizable? Were there paved roads and a town center, or is your community a recent entity?

Now, imagine returning to 1919 as an adult and conversing with someone your own age. Words like "television," "minivan," "antibiotic," or "internet" would not even register. It could be a challenge finding a common vocabulary to have a conversation that made sense to you both.

A person could do a lot of living and learning in 98 years. Their roots would be deep.

Evelyn's Courageous Generosity

I wish you could meet 98-year-old Evelyn. She's spent nearly 10 decades honing her skill of loving others, and she's a firecracker. Her generosity story is simple but compelling.

Evelyn lives in a retirement community. When she moved in, the community offered a weekly van service to the grocery store. Recently they cancelled the service.

Evelyn's next-door neighbor is Joyce. Joyce is very shy. Joyce told Evelyn that if she didn't have a way to get groceries, she would have to move to another community. But Joyce couldn't fathom making new friends.

So Evelyn promised Joyce, "I'll get you to the grocery store every week."

The only problem was that Evelyn had had driver's license denied due to her age. (Mind you, according to her, "I didn't have a mark against me at all!") Undaunted, Evelyn went to the DMV and asked to have her license reinstated. She studied, took the tests, and passed, with the sole purpose of helping Joyce by taking her shopping every week.

Admittedly, Evelyn's daughter wishes that her mother's courageous efforts didn't include driving, but Evelyn insists, "I don't have money to give, but I can give myself, my time. A lot of people in the world don't have anyone who cares about them…we're asked to love our neighbor, to be a friend. That brings me joy!"

Don't you hope that the fruit of your life is as courageous and generous as Evelyn's if you live to 98 years old? I certainly do!

Whole-Life Generosity

Evelyn's story paints a picture of whole-life generosity. She knows what it means to be generous with her time, her talents, and even her emotional strength. To Evelyn, generosity is more than money—it's rearranging her life and upping her own game on behalf of her friend next door.

Here at GenerousChurch, we define whole-life generosity as

"an overflowing life released to God for others."
It happens when people with deep inner roots produce good outward fruit.

Financial giving is assuredly a generous fruit. But so is empathy for a neighbor, speaking a kind word to a stranger, or maximizing one's vocational influence on behalf of God's purposes in the world. A generous heart yields many types of generous fruit.

In church, it's tempting to isolate the fruit of financial generosity, speaking to it in a separate blurb on a Sunday morning or having a small group study that teaches budgeting or debt reduction. These strategies can separate financial generosity from the issues of the heart – from its roots. But Jesus modeled something different. He looked beyond the surface and guided conversation to the connection between a person's inner life and their external behavior. He helped his followers see that money issues were really heart issues.

"As church leaders, it's helpful to think about the soil in our faith communities and how we plant seeds regarding generosity and giving. "
Would creating a whole-life generosity culture naturally propel financial health in your church? If God's holistic heart of generosity is the focus, wouldn't finances simply be the generous outcome? Would this mental and emotional reset instantly relieve stress and tension for you as a church leader?

Tilling the Soil

No doubt, you desire for people in your congregation to be freed by the grace of Jesus, released to generosity in all of its forms.

Take some time this week to consider the soil where you serve. What are ways to lead church members into heart and mind changing journeys of whole-life generosity? Who can you brainstorm with as you grapple with this question?

And, download the Generosity Reset eBook to learn more about the Whole-Life Generosity Cycle and how it can impact your church.

- PJ

Recommended Resource:

Generosity Reset
Generosity Reset - Discover 9 Resets to a Generous Church – Download the free eBook
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Great article, Patrick. Money is a leading indicator of a generous heart. A question to ask is whether churches are leading by example in their generosity to families and ministries in the community. Funny how the % of member income given to church is nearly the same as % of church income given to local/international missions.
Jim Morgan
February 8, 2018 - 12:36:05 PM
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Thanks and great point Jim!

I do see a correlation between a church's external giving and the generosity of the people within the church for sure. Andy Stanley says the culture of the church reflects the lives of the leaders and I think this is a good example of that.

Want some great examples of churches who give generously outside the 4 walls: - Church Project gives 50% away. Plus tons of life on life giving happens in their house churches. - WoodsEdge - give 50% away too.

And I bet there are tons of small churches across the country who give 10%+ away every year as a natural part of church life. Often small churches aren't faced with the high capital needs of the larger churches.

February 8, 2018 - 01:08:24 PM
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