Servanthood = Outward Focus

In our work with Elemental Churches, we identify the 4 critical traits all healthy churches have: Integrity, Passion, Servanthood, and Imagination.

One of them—Servanthood—is really all about having an outward focus. If I could wave a magic wand over the churches in the U.S., I would make them amp up this one. And one of the marks of an outward-focused church is: radical generosity.

Churches that champion servanthood—outward focus—are simply unselfish with money. They’re generally generous and have built it into their DNA. It doesn’t matter what size they are. And the people in the church reflect that.

When I was pastoring, a woman came up to me after one of our celebrations and wanted to talk. I knew a little bit about her: That she was a single mom with a couple of kids and a lot on her shoulders. That she lived on very little. That she wrestled with a bipolar condition. That life had not been simple or easy…and money was hard to come by.

But her “life message” was that generosity had changed her life. Dramatically.

For Christmas someone had given her a little gift certificate book from Taco Bell. She was in the drive-thru grabbing dinner for herself and her kids. After she gave the cashier her gift coupons, she happened to notice in her car mirror that the person in the car behind her seemed to be frantically looking for change in the seat. She suddenly said to the cashier, “How much is the bill for the car behind me?”

The guy told her. She asked, “Is there enough in the coupon book to cover it?”

He took it and thumbed thru the few pages and said, “Yeah, this will just cover it.”

She replied, “Keep it. And tell the person that God loves them.” The cashier looked at her dumbfounded, smiled, and said “Okay…” And with that, she drove off.

She told me how grateful she felt that someone gave her those coupons in the first place and that God allowed her to see an opportunity to serve…and how real His presence seemed to be the moment she drove away. I have a feeling that what she did with her coupon book was a Really Big Deal to the Father. Small things done with great love.

It’s exciting when a whole church catches that.

The apostle Paul put it like this: You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 2 CORINTHIANS 9:11-13 (NIV)

Q. On a scale of 1-to-10, how would you rate your church’s expression of generosity?

Dave Workman | Elemental Churches