Your congregation can invest in eternity by using their money for God's purposes. It is secure. It is risk-free. It comes with guaranteed interest. It yields dividends forever.
The Bible says, "Command that they do good, that they be rich in good works, generous, willing to share, and laying up in store for themselves a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
1. Invest in God's treasury fund (worship). This is the investment fund most of your congregation will know about—tithing. We invest in the treasury fund by using some of our money to express worship.
There's nothing we can give God that He needs. And God certainly doesn't need our money. But when we give an offering to Him—an undesignated, planned and proportional offering where and when we worship—we're saying, "God, I love you."
The Bible says, "Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase" (Prov. 3:9). We honor God when we tithe. It's an act of worship. God wants us to give to this fund before we invest in any other. He doesn't want our money; He wants what it represents.
2. Invest in God's mutual fund (fellowship). God also wants us to use some of our money to encourage fellowship, to show love to other believers and to build relationships.
Anytime I give my money to God, it draws me closer to Him. Anytime I give my money to another person, it draws me closer to that person. When I give money to people in my small group or invest in my small group, I grow closer to those in the group. Anytime I buy a nice card and write a note of encouragement, I've invested in the mutual fund. When another believer is discouraged, and I take him or her out for lunch, I've invested in the mutual fund.
Investing in this fund brings dividends from elsewhere as well. The Bible says, "When you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible" (3 John 1:5 MSG).
When we invest our money in developing relationships within the church, it points others to God. Investing in the fellowship of your church helps bring people to Christ.
3. Invest in God's growth fund (discipleship). God wants us to take some of our money and invest it in ourselves—in personal and spiritual improvement. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:18, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
There are many ways to waste your money instead of using it to grow. But God wants us to use some of our money to grow spiritually, to develop skills and to educate ourselves so that we can become the kind of people He has shaped us to be. The Bible says, "Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding" (Prov. 23:23).
Anytime we use our money to buy a Christian book or a CD that helps us grow, we've invested in this fund. Whenever we use our money to take a class or to learn something that makes us more of what God wants us to be, we're also investing in our growth fund.
4. Invest in God's equity service fund (ministry). God wants us to use some of our money to help people in need. He didn't put us on this earth to live for ourselves.
This is all part of God making us more like Himself. God is generous. Everything we have is because of His generosity. We wouldn't have anything—we wouldn't even be alive—if it weren't for His goodness. And God wants us to be generous, just as He is.
God particularly wants us to be generous with the poor. Throughout the Bible, God tells us He is watching how we help the poor. For example:
"He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many a curse" (Prov. 28:27).
"He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay what he has given" (Prov. 19:17).
5. God wants the people of your church to invest in his global fund (missions). God wants us to use some of our money to take the Good News to the whole world.
Luke 16:9 is one of the most misunderstood verses in the entire Bible. Jesus says, "Use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings" (NIV). What in the world does He mean?
I believe Jesus is telling us He wants us to take some of our money and use it to help other people get into heaven. When you die and go to heaven, those same people will welcome you and say, "Thank you for investing in me. I'm here because of you. I'm not your friend for life; I'm your friend for eternity. I'm in heaven because you cared enough. You bought me a Bible. You bought me a ticket for an event. You did something with your money to help spread the Good News to my village. Because you gave, I'm now a follower of Christ, and I'm in heaven because of you."
That's the greatest possible use of our money! We can use the money from this fund locally or globally. Are there people in your church who want to participate in short-term missions but don't think they can afford it? Encourage them to invest (or save) a little money each month for their global fund so they can take the Good News of Jesus Christ to another country.
Investing in these five funds is eternally important. If your church members invest their treasure on earth, all they're doing is piling up treasure here. But if we invest in eternity—in God's eternal purposes—we'll enjoy our investment forever and ever and ever.
This article is adapted from Rick Warren's message, Enabling the Vision—Purpose Driven Giving.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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