Leader to Leader, Stewardship

Four Great Ways to Discourage Generosity

May 12, 2016 | Posted by John Kieschnick

I grew up in a very modest home, born in 1942 in the dining room of a teacherage in central Texas. Air conditioning amounted to opening the windows on all sides of the house and praying for a little breeze. Baths were in a washtub on the porch, and it didn’t help that I was the 8th of 9 children. As limited as our possessions were our home was filled with love, gratitude and generosity. My parents taught me to tithe and to give. So, when people speak to me about how poor they are while we live in the most affluent country in the history of the world, I just don’t get it.

I am also chagrined when leaders in the church discourage generosity. Sometimes it is done subtly and others times rather obviously. So, if you don’t yet have enough ideas on how to discourage generosity, allow me to suggest a few more.

  1. Help people focus on what they don’t have rather than what they do have. At every possible time and place communicate a theology of scarcity rather than a theology of abundance. Focus on Jesus’ words, “The poor will always be in your midst.” Suggest to people that God is a tightwad. It works almost every time!
  2. “Spiritualize” every Biblical text you can when it comes to giving. For example, when Jesus teaches that our righteousness as His followers ought to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees make certain that you do not include their practices regarding tithes and offerings. Avoid any reference to their behavior in this regard.
  3. Emphasize that the laws regarding “tithes and offerings” were in the Old Testament and no longer apply to us in the New. Whatever you do, ignore the fact that Abraham and Jacob offered tithes before the written Law was ever given. Furthermore, if you teach the tithe as a principle for giving, always emphasize the tithe as the ceiling and not the floor for giving.
  4. Above all else, when all else fails, focus on the law as the motive for giving. After all, the grace of giving just isn’t enough to get the job done. Isn’t this what C.F.W. Walther taught those first seminaries in our church body? What was good enough in the mid-19th century certainly ought to be good enough in the early 21st!

Having said all of that, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

John Kieschnick
Born in Walburg, Texas, the second youngest of nine children, John Kieschnick received a B.S. in Education from Concordia Teachers’ College, River Forest, Ill. Throughout his ministry, John has served on a variety of synodical boards and committees, both national and district (Texas). He has authored numerous stewardship Bible studies and programs.