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“GROWING IN GENEROSITY”

Date: 
November 5, 2017
Speaker: 
Rev. Terry Martinson
Reading: 
II Corinthians 9:6-12

 

THEME: Our generosity funds our mission and our ministry?

INTRODUCTION

  • As you sit in the pews on Sunday mornings, listening intently to your pastor, of course, what are some of the words you hear that fill you with joy? Thanksgiving… gratitude… blessing… gifts… grace… abundance…
  • On the other hand what are some of the words you hear that make you quake in your seat – words that almost scare you to death? Stewardship… fundraising… giving… money… budgets…
  • I have a confession – I actually like the word stewardship
    • It doesn’t frighten me like it used to when I was sitting where you are…
    • I understand stewardship to be caring for and protecting that which is entrusted to our care… sharing the gifts we have been given…
    • “Stewardship is the process of saying: ‘This is what I have, and this is how I’m going to use it in the world.’” (Emily Heath – Glorify… - p. 28)
    • What we do with our gifts is a reflection of our faith and an opportunity to witness to God’s generosity...
    •  
  • how we use what we have matters tremendously to God.

GENEROSITY

  • GENEROSITY – is another word that I really like – GENEROSITY
  • We should be teaching our children and grandchildren about generosity as soon as they begin to walk so that they will be generous throughout their lives…
    • to a youngster I would simply explain that generosity looks like sharing…  
    • the opposite of generosity is stinginess.  
  •  “Generosity is a fruit of God’s spirit and a barometer of one’s faith.”  (Anne R. Ledbetter)
  • The Apostle Paul, addressing the church in Corinth, wrote: “You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity.”  (II Corinthians 9:11 NRSV)
    • I believe that!
    • Our generosity enriches us!
  • Robert Schnase, a Methodist Bishop, wrote a wonderful book titled: The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations… The five practices he points to are:
    • Radical hospitality
    • Passionate worship
    • Intentional faith development
    • Risk-taking mission and service
    • Extravagant generosity
  • “Extravagant generosity describes practices of sharing and giving that exceed all expectations and extend to unexpected measures.”  <p. 80 – Cultivating Fruitfulness – Schnase>
  •  “Fruitful congregations thrive because of extraordinary sharing, willing sacrifice, and joyous giving out of love for God and neighbor… Fruitful congregations are driven to be generous by a high sense of mission and a keen desire to please God by making a positive difference in the world.” <p. 80 – Cultivating Fruitfulness - Schnase>
  • “People who give generously to the church do so because they genuinely desire to make a positive difference for the purposes of Christ and because they want to align their lives with higher purposes. They give in response to the Spirit’s urging and feel a soul-sustaining satisfaction in the sense of meaning and connection that comes with generosity. They give because they love God, love the church, and desire to grow in love of neighbor.”  <p. 108 – Five Practices…>
  • I believe that it is God’s generosity that enables our generosity…
    • God provides for every blessing in abundance.
    • God is a cheerful and generous giver… Our generosity is a reflection of the character and heart of God…

 

GIVING

  • The scriptures encourage us to give joyfully, generously, and consistently…
  • Paul discouraged people from giving reluctantly or under compulsion…
  • “A cheerful giver, who gives out of sincere gratitude for what God has done, is the type of giver God cherishes.”  (II Corinthians 9:7)
  • Did you know: People who give their resources joyfully and freely, who volunteer their time, who stay emotionally and relationally connected to others, who practice kindness toward their neighbors, and who understand the importance of being generous live more abundant lives in terms of health, happiness, and a profound sense of purpose. (Galloway)
  • Life is about giving, not getting… but fear and worry often keep us from giving generously… we fear that if we give too much, we won’t have enough for ourselves…
    • Fear and worry are the opposites of faith…
    • “We spend too much time trying to create our own security, rather than believing that our lives are safely and securely in the hands of God.  (Wood)
    • Faith and gratitude lead us to give and to give without fear…
  • Generous givers make it possible for the church to fulfill its mission: to worship God, to care for one another, to nurture our children and youth, to share the love of Christ with others, and support the many outreach ministries in the community and beyond.
  • Our financial gifts do remarkable things when they are transformed into ministry and mission…
  • God has done, and continues to do remarkable things through us and with us… things that matter to the congregation, to the community, and to God… things that make a difference!

 

INGATHERING SUNDAY

  • Perhaps as early as tomorrow church members and friends will receive a letter from our Stewardship Team with a pledge card for 2018… your pledge card enables us to plan in advance for the upcoming year…
  • It is our hope that, after prayerful consideration, you will bring your pledge card to worship on “Ingathering Sunday,” November 19th… Pledge cards may also be returned by mail…
  • It is also our hope that you will read the Generosity Newsletter included in the mailing… there are new ways that you will be able to fulfill your pledge in 2018.
  • Marcia and I generously support the ministry and the mission of Dennis Union Church with our annual pledge because we feel blessed to have the opportunity to minister to you and with you, and because we believe in the mission of this church.
  • Friends, I encourage you to consider generosity as a way of life and to grow in the grace of giving…

CONCLUSION  (Gary Hardin)

  • Anthropologists have studied a primitive tribe located in the South American jungles. They have learned that the most important role within the tribe was the “keeper of the flame.” Fire is a precious commodity to this tribe, and one member of the tribe is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the flame alive. During the night the flame-keeper adds wood to the fire. His task is vital.
  • As we give financially to the Lord’s work, we become keepers of the flame. We help spread the gospel message. We meet people’s needs. We assist people in growing spiritually. We enable our church to shine as God’s light in the world. Such privilege fills our hearts with joy.

 

Sermon Seeds

  • Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations – Robert Schnase – Abingdon Press – Nashville – 2007
  • Cultivating Fruitfulness – Robert Schnase – Abingdon Press – Nashville – 2008
  • Faith and Generosity – a sermon by Anne R. Ledbetter – Westminster Presbyterian Church
  • Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Generosity – a sermon by David K. Wood
  • The Fruit of the Spirit: Generosity – a sermon by Dr. Lewis F. Galloway – Second Presbyterian Church – Indianapolis
  • A story from Gary Hardin

Worship Bulletin

Worship Insert