time magazine’s front cover recently read, ‘does God want you to be rich? (yes, say some megachurches. others call it heresy. the debate over the new gospel of wealth). that debate will be ongoing so i thought i’d chime in a couple thoughts…
+ i do believe that God wants his creation to prosper. if he wants his creation to prosper, i believe, he’d want the jewel of his creation, humanity, to prosper as well. so, then, the issue becomes, ‘how do we define prosperous or prosperity?’ why are we so infatuated with prosperous equating monetary wealth or financial affluence? can’t it equate to peace? joy? contentment? especially here it the western world, i’m alarmed at the infatuation with financial wealth? money: it is what it is. it’s a TOOL. a tool to a) enjoy stuff, b) take care of family and loved ones, and c) give away to help others and build the work of God. but when we start loving money rather than seeing and using it as a tool…the apostle paul in his letter to the timothy addresses the grave repercussions.
+ there’s still poverty and economic injustice here in the US, but on the most part, we are wealthy. in fact, we’re a filthy wealthy nation. on a personal level, i make approximately $60-65K/year (church salary + writing + speaking). minhee and i strive to give away a minimum of 20% of our salary. i share this not to boast but to serve as ‘mentors’ to those at quest who look to us as ‘one voice’ for guidance and direction. we’re able to give more (and seek to give more than we keep) because our parents have allowed us with their legacy for us to be generous and transfer a legacy for our children. we calculated that if we worked another 30 years (on one income), that would come out to $1.95 million dollars. if we gave 20% over the next 30 year=$390K. our goal is to give away $500K beyond ourselves/family. we dream: “what if 100 other folks/families share that same principle?” that would equal $50million dollars over 30 years! that’s a substantial foundation!
this past week, one of our other pastors, leah mccann, preached from matthew 25. she and eight others just returned from thailand/burma. she shared a solid ‘heart’ message about what it means to be blessed. we are blessed in order to bless others. we do so well in enjoying stuff and try to do well in loving our families but we honestly suck at blessing others and investing in the work of God. at quest, we have appropriated 20% of all giving to the global presence and churchplanting fund. another 10% is appropriated for the building (maintenance) fund. within two years, we need to increase the GP/CP fund to 30% and within five years, hopefully, to 40%. within five years, we hope to have the church communty give (minimum) an annual sum of $1 million. potentially, $400,000 (40%) can be appropriated for churchplanting, justice and compassion causes, sending and supporting missionaries and visionaries, funding microbusinesses, etc. over the course of thirty years, that amount would add up to $12 million. the ministry of ‘redistribution’ is tangible for all churches.
according to the Global Rich List, i am the 53,205,017 richest person in the world. i’m in the top .88% richest people in the world! damn i’m rich. we’re not called to save the world. jesus has done that already. but we are called to bless folks in the name of jesus. i often struggle with the tension of how do i enjoy? how much is enough for my family? who do i give to? how do i give? and on and on. my conclusion: i just need to live generously… for example, i discovered from some quest folks that $250 can help build a food shelter in the refugee camps by the border of thailand/burma and another $250 can help stock it=only $500. $30 can buy a first aid kit for a village in haiti. $73 can purchase a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in uganda. $2400 would provide schooling for an entire generation of school children in an angolan village.
tonight, i will go to my large home in ballard, enjoy a home cooked meal with my wife and kids, and sleep in my king sized bed. in years past, i’ve struggled to ‘enjoy’ things but honestly, i will enjoy the home, the meal, the bed, and my family. i no longer have regrets or reticence about enjoying god’s provision but i want to fully understand the blessings of his provision. i am called and sent to bless others: ‘how can i bless you, Lord, and bless others? give me vision, creativity, and courage.’