Cooperative Giving in Scripture: Five Observations
by Roger S. Oldham
Scripture speaks on money more than almost any other subject. Among its many teachings are numerous references to cooperative giving on the part of God’s people.
The Premise of Voluntary Giving
From the first recorded tithe in Genesis 14 to the various freewill offerings for the building of the Tabernacle and the building and rebuilding of the Temple, giving to God’s work is consistently shown to be a matter of a willing heart.
The Principle of Proportional Giving
The word “tithe” means one-tenth, reflecting an equal percentage of one’s income. Elsewhere in Scripture, giving was proportionally based on one’s ability to give (Leviticus 27; Numbers 15; Deuteronomy 26; 2 Corinthians 8). The phrases as God has prospered him (1 Corinthians 16:2) and to whom much is given, much shall be required (Luke 12:48) capture this proportional aspect of giving.
The Pattern of Systematic Giving
Throughout the Old Testament, a variety of offerings were presented at set times throughout the year. In New Testament teaching, systematic giving continues to be held out as the ideal.
The Practice of Aggregated Giving
In Old and New Testaments alike, gifts were brought to the Tabernacle, the Temple, the Storehouse, or otherwise collected for specific purposes. Consistently, the gifts of the many contributed to the ministries of the whole.
The Power of Collective Gain
Scripture is replete with imagery of the well-watered plain, the tree by rivers of water, the river that flows from God’s throne, the Jordan in flood stage, the waters that flowed from Hebron, and the voice of many waters. The power of collective gain allowed God’s people to attempt, and accomplish, the seemingly impossible.
Pastor Appreciation Opportunities Available
by Joe Conway
Imagine if pastors received the same support and accolades reserved for college football coaches. While many churches encourage their pastors well—and some do an exemplary job—many pastors feel closer to last year’s fired head coach then the man with the post-game TV show.
Enter pastor appreciation month in October. Pastors need demonstrated love and support, perhaps as much as any other vocation. The stresses of accepting spiritual responsibility for congregations are well-documented in Scripture by Paul and today in countless surveys. Your pastor needs your support.
“Just as Moses needed an Aaron and Hur to lift his weary arms in battle (Exodus 17), so every pastor needs encouragement from his church to lift his arms in the spiritual battle facing the local church,” said Michael Lewis, executive director for the North American Mission Board’s pastoral care and development office. “Pastors, whose jobs are all about ‘giving out,’ are ‘wearing out.’ Pastors need affirmation and encouragement from their congregations. Serving as a local church pastor is filled with pressing demands.”
As a former pastor, Lewis understands those pressures. One question a church can ask itself is, “Shouldn’t our pastor have . . . ?” and fill in the blank with what church members take for granted or see their pastor truly needs. Take concrete steps to meet the need, which may include time off or a sabbatical, Lewis said.
NAMB President Kevin Ezell, who most recently pastored Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, for fourteen years prior to coming to NAMB, knows well the joys and demands of leading a church.
“It’s the greatest privilege in the world to pastor a congregation,” Ezell said. “But it is also very demanding and we need to take steps to protect, strengthen, and express appreciation for our pastors.”
Lewis adds that appreciation for pastors is simply following the exhortations of 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13, and Galatians 6:6. Churches can find “Five simple steps to lift up God’s servant in your church” at NAMB.net/For_Lay_Leaders.
Learn more about pastoral care and development at sendnetwork.com/pastoral-care-and-development.
As a way of encouraging more churches to participate in pastor appreciation month in October, NAMB is partnering with worship leaders Shane and Shane to provide a worship event for a selected church which best demonstrates the spirit of pastor appreciation. The recipient church will have the opportunity to host the free event as an additional thank-you for its pastor.
Church members can post photos on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with the hashtag #LiftMyPastor showing how they lift their pastor with one of NAMB’s resources found at sendnetwork.com/pastors-appreciation. Posts should include details of why and how the church body chose to lift their pastor.
Each social media post that uses the hashtag #LiftMyPastor will be entered for the chance to bring Shane and Shane to their church for a worship night. Visit facebook.com/NAMB.SBC for details and more about entering your church’s example of pastor appreciation.
NAMB/LifeWay Partner to Provide Evangelism Resources
Soul-Winning Commitment Day, October 4
3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide, which uses three circles on a napkin or other paper to relate the Gospel story, was released by NAMB at the 2014 SBC annual meeting. It is available in print form and as an app for mobile devices. The Spanish-language version, 3 Circulos: Guia Para Conversar Sobre La Vida, is also available.
LoveLoud Best Practices Directory contains numerous church-based models of mercy and compassion ministries. The directory can be accessed at NAMB.net/loveloud/directory.
In collaboration with collegiate ministers, NAMB has created the Collegiate Collective website (collegiatecollective.com) designed to resource and equip college leaders in evangelism, disciple making, and church planting.
The Evangelism Response Center (ERC) enlists covenant churches, trains telephone and internet encouragers, and equips regional facilitators to speak with inquirers who call 1-888-Jesus2015. The ERC supports and partners with all NAMB ministries including God’s Plan for Sharing, Send North America new church planters, Disaster Relief, and LoveLoud, as well as Broadman & Holman Publishing, SBC media ministries, the SBC seminaries, state conventions, hundreds of local Southern Baptist churches, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
LifeWay has partnered with the North American Mission Board to provide Life On Mission: A Simple Way to Share the Gospel, a five-session Bible study that equips believers to leverage their influence to bring unbelievers to faith in Christ. Find out more at LifeWay.com/lifeonmission.
Resources for FAITH Evangelism, highlighted at LifeWay.com/Faith, include:
- FAITH Evangelism 1, designed to equip believers to grow in their personal faith while, at the same time, taking the Gospel and needed ministry into their communities.
- FAITH Evangelism 2, which continues the evangelism journey while focusing on building strong, committed leaders who will pour and multiply their lives into the lives of learners.
Also available at LifeWay.com, the following resources assist believers in sharing the Gospel with friends and others in their circles of influence:
My 8: Embrace and Engage the Wonder of Evangelism is an eight-session Bible study for students that deals with the heart and how-to of evangelism. Author Ed Newton challenges and equips students to share their faith.
Leading a Child to Christ Training Pack continues to be a strong evangelism tool that is well designed to assist parents, teachers, pastors, and older children in sharing their faith. This training pack includes two video segments, “Leading a Child to Christ” and “Leading a Friend to Christ,” as well as conference plans for training.
Share Jesus Without Fear, revised edition, presents a simple and relational approach to witnessing that underscores dependence on God’s power for the results. Birthed out of the radical life-transformation of its author, Bill Fay, Share Jesus Without Fear teaches believers how to navigate a witnessing conversation in everyday situations. LifeWay has released additional Share Jesus tools to equip believers to share their faith: the Share Jesus Without Fear app and Share Jesus Without Fear Scripture and Question Cards.
More to Life, authored by Dennis Pethers, offers a discovery tool designed to engage nonbelievers in discovering who Jesus is, as revealed in four stories from the Gospel of John, encouraging and enabling believers to more easily engage individuals in spiritual dialogue and help them reach “people who are far from God, but close to you.”
One of the greatest evangelism opportunities for churches is Vacation Bible School (see related stories). Multiplied tens of thousands of people will come to faith in Christ as a result of VBS. And, there are additional untold numbers of families within communities who will be impacted. Vacation Bible School opens a multitude of doors to evangelistic opportunity.
Excerpted from the LifeWay and NAMB reports in the 2015 SBC Book of Reports and archived in the 2015 SBC Annual.
Joe Conway is marketing team content coordinator with NAMB and is a member of Crabapple Baptist Church in Milton, Georgia.