Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why the Church Talks About Money

What do I say to people who ask me, “Why so much talk about money?”

When I get this question, I ask people to consider three reasons why we talk about money regularly in the church.

Giving is catalytic for spiritual growth. Discipleship includes growing in each of the 7 G’s (Glorify, Grace, Growth, Groups Gifts Good Stewardship, and Go.) While Good Stewardship is just one of the seven G’s, growing in generosity causes one’s spiritual growth to soar in the other G’s too. Generally, when we learn to trust God with our money, we learn to trust God with all of our lives. Where your money goes, your heart follows.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I could stop right here because in order to accomplish our mission of leading unchurched people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus, we must disciple people in how God says to use the money He has entrusted to us. If people do not use their money like God says, they are not yet fully devoted followers of Christ.

Money is the cultural idol. When money is an idol, some people get upset when you talk about it. What if we have to slay the main idols in our area in order to have a spiritual breakthrough? Paul preached the Good News and he called people to turn from idols. And people’s lives were changed. The scandal of the American church is that people become Christians, but their lives are no different. Are lives not changed because we have not faced and replaced the idols in our lives?

1 Thessalonians 1:9 … you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

Tearing down the altars to the idols in our culture will include the church talking about money. (See American Idols Series, The Money Connection message.)

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Money impacts mission. Our capacity for mission will never regularly exceed our resources of people, money, time and space. We must constantly develop in each area for the sake of our mission, including money. We give ourselves to training up leaders and involving new people to serve God in the areas of their gifts and passions. In the same way, we must train the people of Clear Creek Community Church to live simply, give generously and spend wisely for the sake of our mission. Money impacts mission! God has provided sufficiently for you that you might participate in every good work. (See Sent series and Live Sent message.)

2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Grief of Growth

A hallway conversation with one of the leaders in the church reminded me of how growth brings grief. And it might help to say it out loud. Grief comes when we feel loss. It’s true when we lose a loved one or a job or a dream. It happens when our kids leave home. But here’s the surprise. We may also grieve what we lose in the church as the church grows.

Sure, we usually celebrate growth in the church too. We cheer when people come to faith, get baptized or connect in a small group. We tell the stories of changed lives with the gusto of a young father telling of his son’s first homerun. The buzz of a growing church gives us a sense that we are caught up in what God is doing in our little corner of the world. And it’s good.

Grief sneaks in the back door as the church grows. Those who serve in ministries, give obediently and sacrificially, pray the prayers and care for the baby Christians in the church relish the kind of connection they have with one another and with church leaders. This connection keeps us inspired and becomes a treasure to us. This connection is what becomes vulnerable as the church grows.

In our case, we started two additional campuses and we have six weekend services. Some of the people who were key leaders five years ago rarely see one another any more. They might be at different campuses or services. Some of the previous connection is gone.

So while we celebrate the blessings that come with growth, some of us secretly and quietly grieve. We miss the way things used to be. And we know that it might not be like it was ever again. I might not see the same people or feel as connected to some staff person or leader.

So let me give a shout out to the long timers, those who have been at Clear Creek Community Church for five, ten and even fifteen years. I’m grateful for their courage to face the grief that comes with growth…again and again. Not everyone can handle it. Some have left the church for a smaller church. But many have stayed after they have grieved and then grown into the kind of leader that helps the church “lead unchurched people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus” in the next season of the journey together.

Let’s just agree to say it out loud. When, by God’s grace, Clear Creek Community Church is ten campuses in close proximity to the people we are trying to reach in the “4 B” area, there will be some grief along the way! But the grief will not compare to the joy to be revealed in the last day—and many of the days between this one and that.