I have just released a new Bible study called The Case for Antioch, based on Jeff Iorg’s book by the same title. The big idea of this study is to challenge your people to be a church like the Antioch church.
Here is an excerpt:
God’s economy for individuals and churches is based on giving, not getting. That’s counterintuitive and countercultural but true nevertheless. Giving away resources, not hoarding them, opens the channel of God’s blessing and assures adequate flow from His abundant provision. God prospers individuals and churches that are generous with their resources including time, personnel, and money. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). While that promise is made in the context of granting and receiving forgiveness, the principle has broader application. Jesus used the analogy of a basket being filled with grain, a good measure. When it seemed full, the grain could be pressed down and shaken together, thus increasing the amount the basket could hold. Jesus taught generous givers will be replenished like that grain basket. They will have so much their container will run over!
Paul echoed a similar theme when he wrote, “Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. . . . And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:6, 8). Generous giving begets generous provision from God. Paul continued the agricultural metaphors when he wrote, “Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness, as you are enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us” (2 Cor. 9:10–11).
Church leaders give many excuses for ignoring these principles and being selfish with resources. Some say, “When our church is larger, we will give more.” Others believe, “We are a small church. The big churches should be the generous givers.” Many leaders promise, “We need to take care of our needs right now. We will give more someday.” Another oft-heard comment is, “We need to build home base so we can give to missions and other causes later.” While these statements sound reasonable, they are more folklore than fact.
Transformational churches are generous with their resources. They give themselves away. They give when they are struggling with ministry challenges, faced with many local needs, and when it’s economically difficult. They give out of conviction, believing God will honor them for their generosity and meet any needs created by their giving. The church at Antioch modeled generosity. It was a young church with compassion for others and passion for spreading the gospel. Those convictions expressed themselves in tangible gifts of money and people that are an example for strong churches in every generation.
Jeff Iorg, The Case for Antioch (Nashville: B&H, 2011).
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