I have been practicing priority percentage giving to a local church since the fall of 1990 when I became a devoted follower of Jesus, and today, our family rejoices every month as we give to this church that we so deeply cherish!
There are scores of teachings in our present age that address the topic of giving to one’s home church and discerning which are Biblical and which are outright scandalous can be perplexing. Let me share some of the highlights of what you will find at City Life.
First, we want everyone who calls City Life their home church to give because they are excited about how God is at work in our spiritual family and in our community through us! Paul in writing to the church of Corinth, 2 Corinthians 9:7, expressed this very sentiment by saying, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We are committed to teaching about finances, giving, and stewardship periodically throughout the year because we believe that Scripture is the best motivator for righteousness, not heavy-handed compulsion.
You will hear us use the phrase “priority percentage giving” because we are convinced that there should be no limit on the percentage of income that every individual or family has made a priority in their personal finances to give away. A common phrase we often hear is that we are to strive to live within our means. However, that advice falls short of the Biblical mandate we have been given, which is to live less than our means, making generosity a hallmark of our lives as devoted followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:1-2 & Acts 20:35). You will hear me often say that in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) when we pray, “…give us this day our daily bread…” that God never intended us to eat the whole loaf! Part of our conversation with God throughout life should be exploring His desire regarding the percentage He would have us set aside for giving, remembering that ultimately, all that we have is His (Psalm 24:1).
But what about how much of the percentage we have set aside is supposed to go to the church we call home compared to supporting missionaries, friends in need, community service organizations, international relief agencies, and etc.? I encourage people to first consider that if they are benefiting from the ministries of a church they call home, they should feel some sense of excitement about supporting the church that is helping to enrich their lives. If ever we find ourselves in a church where we aren’t inspired to give generously, we should be looking for a new church! I can tell you that at City Life, our leaders have committed to one another to set as a baseline for our giving to this church, ten percent of our gross income. Our hearts are bursting with anticipation for what is at present and on the horizon for City Life, and our leadership team is excited to be the pace setters of generosity for the house.
If you are looking for some resources that speak in greater detail about giving and finances, let me recommend two authors. The first is a book entitled The Blessed Life by Robert Morris. A friend of mine recommended this book to me in 2007 and it has become mainstay in my personal library on understanding the Biblical principles that govern giving. Second, anything written by Larry Burkett is always a solid source.
Ultimately, we must ask ourselves how we want to be characterized by others who know us best, and for me, I want my life and the culture of City Life to be one of radical, awe inspiring, Kingdom building generosity!