Category: Infusing Culture

Church Generosity

Michael Shaw,

This post by Michael Shaw was originally published at Seventy Two

We are in a world that has stopped growing! Up until the last few weeks, our world has been based on Growth, exponential growth. But a small virus has prevented us from growing, over the next few months the world economy is likely to contract to a level unseen in almost a century.

Sadly many of our church models have followed the world, in believing that growth is the most important thing. But we have forgotten that growth without reproduction is fairly pointless. Even church planting models – like HTB “resource” churches are not based on new growth but breathing life into dead things.

Most church growth models intend to reach new people, by making their services attractional. This often include a focus on professionalised worship, simple teaching, wide use of social media, high quality children’s work, and emphasis on Millennials and young families. And while this does indeed attract people from outside church, the unintended consequence is high levels of transfer growth.

What this means is that often there is a drain from small inner city or rural churches to city centre and town centre, so while the churches in the centre do grow, the cost is paid by smaller churches that cannot match the “quality” of these highly resourced churches.

So while church growth models are commendable, they also come at a time when the church as whole is in decline. We need something better!

So I believe we need not church growth but church generosity, churches need to give away rather than hoard, and while many churches do give circa 10% of their income away, I wonder if we could think about Tithing (a tenth) in a different way. What about it every year, churches looked to give away a 10% of their people. So how could that look like?

  • Churches between 100-200 people could give 10% of their membership to a smaller, struggling church (including their giving) to help enable that church to engage in strategic mission in their area
  • Churches over 200 could give 10% of their people to plant a new church, 20 members could be a sustainable small church in an under churched are
  • Churches of 500+ churches could plant several churches in their local area, or a mix of church planting and assisting a small church locally

I wonder if we saw Church Generosity as the aim, the result would be a Kingdom of God focused Church Growth strategy, seeing the whole Church grow!


The post Church Generosity appeared first on Seventy Two.

Sabbath, Gleaning and Jubilee

Michael Shaw,

This post by Michael Shaw was originally published at Seventy Two

Like most people the words Corona Virus seems to be the only words on my mind, I have already heard of people dying, family members who have symptoms and even a couple of people in my church have been self-isolating with a suspected case. But there are three words that have been circulating in my head and they are Sabbath, Gleaning and Jubilee. I believe these ancient words, which go deep into the old testament law, speak into our current time.


We have been living in a 24/7 world which is built on a model of continuous growth, but suddenly we are told to stop doing what we have been doing. To slow down and stop. Our world is going through a global sabbath, and it comes at a great cost to human life. But in the process pollution is being lifted, birds song is being heard, canals are getting cleaner, policemen are serenading people in the street, we are learning to appreciate shop workers, cleaners and doctors. We are connecting with people who we wouldn’t normally speak to. I know we will go back to the way life was, but maybe we can learn a lesson that we don’t need 24/7 as much as we thought we did. It is good to pause and stop, to appreciate the small connections we make each day.


While stock-piling has been headline news, many others are buying extra, but not for themselves, there are stories of generosity of people as well. Foodbanks who were struggling are now full, other smaller local food banks have sprung up for those who require emergency food. People are taking take aways to their elderly neighbours.  The pictures of empty shelves do tell us that there are many people out there who are living selfish lives, but there are hundreds of stories that we will never see, of people stock piling food to give away.


Too many people have bought into the lie that Capitalism and Democracy are Christian values, they are part of our Western Christian culture, but the fact is that the Bible references neither of them. But, even for many well-read Biblical Christians , Capitalism and Christianity go hand in hand together. Many will politically argue for a small state, low tax economy, as if that is what the Bible states. The Bible writers would have no concept of Capitalism or Socialism as economic systems. But we have somehow missed that. We often do not think it is for Governments to balance out wealth, hoping Multi-millionaires and Billionaires will voluntarily give away their excess, and while this does indeed happen, the financial impact of this global problem will mean that the redistribution of wealth, the release of debts and the balancing out of our society will have to happen. If the Bible offers one economic model, it is that of Jubilee. I believe that we will have no other option in the next year than to see a Jubilee happen.

Three words: Sabbath, Gleaning and Jubilee


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