Part of our motivation for giving should be a recognition of the need. Paul encourages generous giving by talking first of all about heart attitudes and even the spiritual benefit of the giver. But the Bible also talks about a recognition of need
- People in need because of circumstances
A significant part of Bible giving is to do with care for the poor. An OT principle continued into the NT is that there should be no poor among you see also Luke 6.
Nb note the Bible provides protections against idleness including gleaning rules in the OT and widows lists in the NT. It isn’t about handouts but recognising the value of all in the community.
This gives us a better sense of the call in Malachi 3 toy bring your tithes into the storehouse and experience the blessing of provision. It’s not a command to give for the individualistic and exploitative benefit of the pastor so that you also get individually blessed in a magical/superstitious way. Rather, all share in the blessing as all share what they have
The current UK context means we need to take into account the existence of the Welfare State but at the same time there are still many gaps and obstacles to provision so that many people fall through or find that their needs are not fully met.
In our context we are responding to need through the LoveBC dimension of ActBC. This includes providing a community café, hardship fund, food bags and ESOL classes.
- The need for Gospel workers
This is part of freeing them up for Word ministry. Paul explains that he is a tent maker but notes that he is giving up a right when he doesn’t receive support. One of the reasons he writes to the Roman and plans to visit is to seek support for onward travel to Spain to share the Gospel. Paul also uses the Old Testament command not to muzzle the ox in order to illustrate why Gospel workers should be supported.
Gospel workers will not be those who we in effect subcontract to do the work for us but those who teach, train and equip others for serve to multiply gifts.
We are recognising that there is a cost to Gospel work. In fact, this is broader than supporting the workers. By the way, this does not mean we shouldn’t step out in faith. We have learnt that God provides in other ways. Over the past few years we’ve been able to start congregations without much extra income coming in, congregations that under classic church planting rules should cost a lot to start. God didn’t give us a cheque but he gave us the people and the opportunities.
At the same time we do want to encourage people to think about how they can support what we are trying to do through ActBC whether by sending, coming, giving or praying. There is a great Gospel need here, the harvest field is white but the labourers are few.