Generosity Project: Living in Abundance
by Rev. Dr. Lonnie A. Brown
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me
are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be
saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:7-10)
My church is tremendously blessed. After almost two decades of financial struggles, we are on pace to finish this year within 1% of budgeted giving. Our modest endowment has rebounded and is poised to serve the church well for years to come. We are even in position to begin reinvesting in our facilities–no small task when the “new” building was erected in the 1880s.
To hear some leaders within our congregation talk, you would never know how things have turned around. No matter how good our financial reports are–and, more importantly, how our ministries are impacting lives–some people invariably shake their heads and lament that we need to collect more and spend less. Even though they are looking at the same report that the finance team and I are celebrating, they can’t pull themselves out of the past season of scarcity.
Let me be clear: fiscal responsibility is a biblical and ethical mandate. There is no excuse for extravagant church spending in a world of need such as ours, nor can we abide prosperity gospel style manipulation for financial gain. But it is essential that we realize how our attitudes about money limit our overall worldview and practice of ministry.
Ours is not a gospel of scarcity. Jesus didn’t come offering “sufficient” or “just enough” life. His salvation isn’t “adequate.” It is complete. Total. Moreover, our currency isn’t money, but God’s gift of reconciliation. And if we are to honor that precious gift we have to be willing to invest our finances in ministries that seek to gain and grow disciples. That should be the measure of our success.
May God lift our eyes from the balance sheet so we can be overwhelmed by God’s abundance!
Rev. Dr. Lonnie A. Brown is the Senior Minister for Union Baptist Church in Mystic, Connecticut. He has served as an associate pastor for congregations across the country, most recently in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he served multiple roles with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention. He lives in Ledyard, Connecticut, along with Rachel, his wife of 21 years, and his two teenage children.