Discipleship: The act of making disciples; growing Christ followers through deep transformation.
These days, I’m hardly ever in a room with church leaders where the topic of discipleship doesn’t come up. The last three years with Covid, the racial justice conversation, and the political climate have made for very interesting atmospheres in churches and boardrooms.
The people in our churches have not shown themselves to be significantly different than the people of the world. It’s heartbreaking. We thought we’d taught them better. Discipled them. But the fruit — as revealed in the public behaviors of the people in our churches — is disappointing. There are a lot of layers to this conversation, and that is not the purpose of this post. I am pointing out that the discipleship conversation seems to be front of mind for many church leaders.
Interestingly, there is much consensus around the need for a better process of forming true disciples in our churches.And yet, I’m not hearing the conversation around discipleship as it relates to generosity, stewardship, and giving. This is the most neglected area of discipleship in the American church. And I believe that is a problem.
In the church over the last 50-60 years, we have allowed the conversation about giving and generosity to be more transactional than transformational, especially in our worship services. In other words, more about how to give (online, appreciated assets, and other ways) and where to give (to this budget, to this project) than why to give. I’m not saying the “how to give” conversation is unnecessary. We have allowed it to monopolize the conversation to exclude “why we give,” which is the transformational perspective. And that makes it a conversation about discipleship.
A lot of people have a problem with the Church and money. They think the Church is after their money. Well, let’s clear that up.
God doesn’t want your money. God doesn’t need your money.
God is not after your money. God is after your heart. And so is the Church.
God is not after your money. God wants to see your faith increase. And so does the Church.
Once you are a Christ-follower, your relationship with money is spiritual. What you do with money is financial,but your relationship with it is spiritual. And if that is the case, then stewardship and giving is an encounter with God as it relates to your money and possessions. And that is a discipleship issue.
Our giving has the power to transform us. To sanctify us. To make us more like Jesus. And that is a missing element in our discipleship strategies.
God knew money would have great power. The power to draw us completely away from him. That’s why Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
He did not say, “You cannot serve God and Satan.” That’s too obvious. You already know that. He said God and Mammon.
Mammon is defined as materialism and worldly gain. It is material wealth regarded as having an evil influence. More importantly, the New Testament personifies it as a false god. It is a deistic term. The only thing Jesus ever gave a deistic term to other than Himself is God The Father, and the Holy Spirit.
Money has power. Great spiritual power. It has the power to draw you away from the altar of the One True God to another counterfeit altar.
Have you thought about that? We get hung up thinking, “The Church is just after our money.” And we ignore the reality that our money has this tremendous spiritual power in our lives.
That’s why I believe it should be an integral part of our strategy and process of forming deeply transformed disciples in our churches.
Yes, we absolutely should focus on other marks of discipleship. But not to the exclusion of generosity, giving, and stewardship. It is one of the marks of a person being profoundly transformed. Let’s not ignore it.
Our relationship with money, if truly seen from God’s perspective, has the power to transform us. And that means it is a MUST for our discipleship strategies and processes.
If I can help you think through this, let’s talk. You can reach me at email@example.com.
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