Wednesday, August 3, 2011

13 Characteristics of a Growing Church: Share

I am proud to say that I, Jimmy Mustion, am an only child! Let me tell you being an only child is pretty great. I had all of my parents' attention. I didn't have any sibling rivalry, and I got all the toys at Christmas.

However, my wife would be the first person to tell you that there is one major downfall to being an only child...we never learned to share as a child. Christiana grew up in a family with two sisters. She, Mary, and Gretel were forced to share all their toys. They had to make room for one another in the back seat of the car. They had to take turns watching the movies and TV shows that they wanted to see. Sharing was normal and expected. Not so with me.

I started learning how to share when I went to school. It wasn't normal. It wasn't easy. It still isn't easy. No wonder that our churches have so much trouble sharing...they are full of only children! OK so I am joking a little bit, but it's true. Our churches DO have trouble sharing. It's no wonder that we have trouble growing.

So here's a quick recap of the Characteristics of a Growing Church:
1st Love Genuinely
2nd Hate What is Evil
3rd Cling to What is Good
4th Devoted to One Another
5th Humility
6th Excitement
7th Stability
8th Service
9th Hope
10th Patience
11th Prayer

The 12th characteristic of a growing Church is Sharing.
"Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13 NIV

What do you think about when you read, "share with the Lord's people who are in need?" Let me tell you that the first idea that pops into my mind is financial aid given to struggling families. I have worked in churches for thirteen plus years now. I have seen the different people who come into the church office on almost a daily basis asking the church for money. Some of them are legitimately in need and others are trying to abuse the system. It's no wonder that churches are skeptical about helping people.

We had an experience like this in our church a few years ago. One of the youth families was "struggling" and they didn't have the money to pay the registration fee for the youth mission trip. They did the right thing. They came to the church staff seeking help. We willingly gave their child a scholarship for the full amount of the trip. Directly after leaving the church the family went out to eat at Red Lobster. There's something wrong with that picture. Does that mean that we should stop sharing with them if we are able to help them? No.

What?! They obviously abused the system! If they didn't have the $100 for mission trip then how did they have the money for Red Lobster! Yeah, it's wrong. They shouldn't have done it. Still, God doesn't tell us that we are to be the judge and jury on every single person coming to us for help. He simply tells us to share with those in need and as far as we knew (at the time) the family was genuinely in need. God is the judge. He will deal with our dishonesty. It's our job to share. So let's get to it!

Ok, so you are like us and you don't have money. Does that mean you get off the hook and you don't have to share? Absolutely not! Acutally it will be hard for you because your sharing will be more personal. Instead of cutting a check, God is calling you to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

Your sharing might be taking someone to the airport if they need a ride. Or maybe a family in your church needs help moving and you are able and available. Or you might share your time by volunteering at a local food pantry. Who knows?! That's between you and God to figure out! Just get to sharing!

Share your time, your money, and yourself with those in your church and your community who are in need. Stop being selfish and skeptical. Just SHARE like God has called you to and you will be truly blessed and our churches will begin to grow again.

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