Christians give in grateful obedience to a generous God. Gratitude provides a wonderful pathway to the spiritual discipline of giving. God’s mercies to us are new every morning, and we have so much to be grateful for.
Imagine that one or two Sundays every month, someone from the congregation shares a moment of gratitude during worship. I’ll call the church Peach Blossom.
A Sunday school teacher shows a preschooler’s drawing of a fish, from the story of the feeding of the five thousand, when a boy who shared his lunch with Jesus.
She says: “I am so grateful to belong to a generous community where we share what God has given us and work together to nurture faith. When you give money to Peach Blossom, we use it to buy Sunday school materials, clean the building, pay the insurance and many, many other things that are all part of faith formation. I am excited to see what God is doing among us, in the preschool class and beyond. It’s like the boy and the two fishes, when we share what we have and we trust God that there will be enough.
“We send money to our regional church so that our children and youth can connect to a larger community of faith through camp, retreats and more. I thank God for our family of faith, near and far.”
Then she prays: “Thank you, God, for everything you have given us. Help us to live generously and joyfully with the gifts you have entrusted to our care. Help us to trust you, knowing that when we share, there will always be enough.
“Thank you for the gift of this church and for our regional church. Thank you for Sunday school teachers, for the joyful energy of our children and grandchildren. Thank you for the people who have nurtured our faith in the past and for the people who strengthen our faith today.
“Help us, Lord, to keep learning your ways. Bless us, we pray. Amen.”
A retired man shares before the offering: “Twice a year, Peach Blossom leads worship at Pleasant Orchard seniors home. We visit with people as we wheel them to the common area for the service. We sing old hymns, we read the Scripture, we pray. Sometimes the hymnals go missing because people like to have one by their bedside.
“The pastoral care team regularly visits two of our members at Pleasant Orchard, and that is greatly appreciated. The four of us on the pastoral-care team are especially grateful for our pastor, who equips us and encourages us.
“When we visit Pleasant Orchard, sometimes our friends are no longer there. On this Eternity Sunday, we remember our friends and family members who have died. Until we experience it first-hand, we may not realize how much time and energy it takes to lead a funeral. We cannot know about all the counselling our pastor does during times of grief and loss, or the many phone calls, meetings and emails involved.
“Your generosity enables our congregation to have a pastor and church administrator who do so much that we do not see. Donations to Peach Blossom provide a budget for the pastoral care team. We help members with counselling. We pay for new hymnals when the seniors cannot part with them. In the budget, the phoneline, internet, mileage and office expenses are not listed as pastoral care or community caring items. But maybe they should be, because they help us to be a caring presence in our community
Then he prays: “Gracious God, thank you for the privilege of giving and sharing together in ministry. Thank you for the people who built this church, both those who have gone before and those people sitting with us today. Thanks for their generosity of time, money, energy and much more. Thank you for the faithful prayers that have carried us through good times and bad.
“We pray for the people unable to attend due to failing health. We are grateful for people who are housebound yet sent a cheque, or who have to work today yet gave online. Thank you for a generous and caring community where we feel your grace-filled presence. Amen.”
I hope these examples help you to imagine the kinds of money stories your congregation could share. Paul writes in II Corinthians 9 that recognizing God’s surpassing grace results in generosity, and that generosity results in thanksgiving to God. And so our gratitude knows no bounds. Paul concludes, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (9:15 NASB).
Lori Guenther Reesor lives in Mississauga, Ont., and worships at Hamilton Mennonite Church. She is a speaker, writer and consultant on Christian giving. She blogs at lgreesor.com and is currently writing a book about church and money. Read her earlier Viewpoint piece, “Why your church needs to talk about money.”