The Three Generosities of a Local Church

by Jared C. Wilson August 16, 2015

Just noodling around with this theory. I think there are three levels of generosity a local church can process through given the gospel's dominion in the place and the leadership's determination to be humble and not insecure. From easiest to hardest:

Generous with Facilities

This is the first generosity and the easiest for most churches to engage in. Sometimes even for reasons of conceit—the appearance of busy-ness or the desire to impress others—but most often out of sincere hospitality and graciousness, churches can open their facilities for use by other churches or community groups. Churches have been doing this for a long time, running soup kitchens or community dinners in their fellowship halls, opening classrooms for daycares or Boy/Girl Scout troop meetings, 12-step groups, etc. When a church is generous with its facilities, it shows a gratitude for what's been stewarded to them and often that their building is not a sacred cow to them.

Generous with Money

Sometimes the first generosity and this one are flip-flopped and churches are more readily generous with money than with their building, but for many, this is a harder generosity, especially in tough economic times. A church's budget will tell you what is most important to them, just like our bank statements reveal what is most important to us. It can be difficult for a church to be generous with its money because the drift to inward focus and enhancing the internal experience of the church is automatic. When the gospel takes more dominion in a church, however, it understands that generosity and good stewardship are not at odds.

Generous with People

This is the hardest generosity, especially as it pertains to our "best and brightest." Churches tend to be stingy with their leaders and leadership prospects. Many churches will not endeavor to plant churches because they cannot trust God enough to send quality missionaries away—or, more bluntly, to drop in attendance. Many churches will not cooperate with other local churches for fear of losing people to the other church. This stinginess with people is an idolatry very difficult to kill. But a gospel-centered church will grow into a kingdom-mindedness that is a constant reminder that no local church owns anybody and that what is best for every local church is whatever is best for the expansion of the gospel and worship of Christ.