By Todd McMichen
Right now people are living generously in neighborhoods and communities across our country. They’re even giving generously as they become personally aware of the opportunities around them.
This is a significant generosity season for our communities, people, and churches.
While this is a difficult season for our country (and the world), there’s also a lot of good relationship building going on as well.
People are walking the streets of their neighborhoods more than ever and meaningfully connecting virtually through social networks.
In this season of social isolation relationships are still happening and we desperately need to support them.
Families are spending more time together, yet we’re unsure of how this is going to play out.
Depression, isolation, anger, and many other real human feelings will be experienced so let’s help put our people on mission as the scattered church.
Ruth and Naomi
I’m reminded of the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Naomi experienced the deep loss of her husband and sons. In response, she attempted to further isolate herself from the only support she had.
This is when her daughter-in-law Ruth shared these powerful words:
“But Ruth replied: Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” — Ruth 1:16
Hurt can drive us into even further separation. Right now, everyone in our country is feeling some kind of pain and some level of separation.
Some old school means of communication are going to come back into play very quickly.
Phone calls, personal notes, and letters will make people feel more important than ever. I even think you can write a letter that is a little longer than normal.
The junk mail has stopped showing up and social media networks are piling up. A good personal letter from a pastor will be well read. Let’s facilitate helping people stick together now more than ever.
Job and his friends
Another giving hero in the Bible is Job. Now when we think of Job, we commonly think of suffering which is his main story line. Yet, this well-hidden verse is pretty important:
“After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and doubled his previous possessions.” — Job 42:10
Job’s friends let him down in his deepest hour of need. They had lots of opinions about how to solve Job’s pains, but what he needed was someone to simply listen.
But Job’s pains doubled: Not only did he have pain from life circumstances; he also had hurt from friends letting him down.
But his road to restoration was to actually pray for them. Turns out that praying for others is a pretty generous step towards our own personal recovery.
Let’s help people pray more than ever for those they know and don’t know.
Churches of Macedonia
Finally, the church is going to have many opportunities to live generously towards our communities. We will be hurting and our resources may be depleted, so what will we do? How will we fulfill the mission?
There is actually a church in the Bible that walked the same path:
“We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia: During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will.” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
I’m confident God is about to ask every church to embark on a path of ministry impact no one saw coming.
And guess what? The ministry budget you approved for 2020 is 100% incorrect as of today. He has new resources and a new plan awaiting us all.
As soon as we can move our people towards the vision of serving generously both during and after COVID-19, the better. The opportunities to make a difference will be greater than we can count.
Lifeway Generosity has developed a series of digitally delivered sermons and small group lessons called “Relational Generosity.”
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TODD MCMICHEN (@ToddMcMichen) is Director of Generosity & Digital Giving at Lifeway and author of Leading a Generous Church: Making Disciples without Chasing Money.