IV. Where God Guides, He Provides (see Phil
There is never any good reason to
beg for or manipulate folks into increasing their financial
commitment to the Church. Usually when we do so it
is because we are seeking to sustain or build something of
our own making. Where God guides, He provides. If He's
not providing, maybe He's not guiding.
So many ministries have been discredited by pastors and evangelists
putting the squeeze on people to give. The opposite happens
at Calvary Chapel. A while back, a woman persuaded her wealthy
husband to come with her to a Thanksgiving service at Big
Calvary. Pastor Chuck shared about how blessed we all were
materially. "So, here comes the pitch for money", the man
thought. But then Pastor Chuck went on to share that he couldn't
enjoy family Thanksgiving if he knew anyone there was in want,
so he encouraged anyone in need to contact the church office
for a free turkey. The rich man was blown away, in fact he
got saved because he'd never seen a church that didn't beg
God doesn't need your money. He's not poor. The kingdom
of God is not teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
But, you protest, the people need to learn Biblical principles
of giving so they can be blessed. Granted. So teach those
principles when you naturally get to them in the course of
a verse by verse study of Minor Prophets or Paul's Epistles,
not as a special message because your budget is low. Is our
motive in teaching giving really to bless the folks (if so,
got for it), or is it rather to raise money? We are instructed
in the Bible to be "blameless", the word means of pure motive,
It is equally important not to ignore finances. We are to
not be "slothful in business" (Rom. 12:11, KJV). Frugality,
good stewardship, being careful with every penny of God's
money is vital. As a pastor, I never wanted to know who gave
what--I don't want to treat anybody differently than anyone
else. So we set up a careful, theft proof system to count,
record and deposit tithes that did not involve me, and a careful
system of purchase orders to watch diligently the outgo as
well. Every penny at Calvary Chapel is carefully accounted
for, and used only very sparingly as the Lord directs. Even
in minor purchases, we always ask, (a) do we really need it?--and
(b) is this the best?
V. The Greatest in the Kingdom Must Learn to
Be the Servant of All
(See Mt. 18:1-4,23; 23:11; Mk 9; Lk. 9; Lk. 22)
The way up is down. If you would stand tall
in God's church, you must learn to be on your face before
Him. The Lord's way is exactly the opposite of the world's
way. It saddens me to see flow charts in churches. If we must
have a flow chart, stand it on its end. God's order is an
inverted pyramid. The "higher up" you go, the more people
you have the opportunity of serving.
God Incarnate, the Creator of the Universe, the Almighty God,
girded Himself with a towel (John 13), knelt down, and did
the work of a slave by washing His disciples' feet. Are we
greater than our master?
Ministry means service. It means opening your eyes and seeing
what needs doing and doing it. It means that we consider no
task to be too low or common. If it needs doing, do it, don't
get others to do it, don't hire a staff to do it, do it yourself.
If there's trash, pick it up. If a light's out, change it.
If the nursery is short of help, baby-sit.
Motivated by love for God's people, it is our calling to serve
them, to make them happy and comfortable, to bless them. I
once went to Israel with Pastor Chuck and a group from the
church. He led the tour, taught 4 or 5 Bible studies on location,
each day, and spent the night running medicine to this room,
encouraging that person, helping this other one. If we're
above any of that, we're not servants of the Lord.
Every minister at Calvary Chapel lives a very simple life
style. Once you're standard of living is above your people's
you are no longer a servant.
Some people aspire to ministry but won't lift a finger to
help out in practical ways. Others are willing to help if
you specifically tell them what to do. Both drive me crazy.
A true minister is a servant, a voluntary daily slave of the
people; he sees what needs doing, and he does it. The fields
are white unto harvest, but the laborers are few. The self
appointed clergymen who want prestige are many, but workers,
laborers, true servants are few. That's what Jesus said to
pray for more of.
In all my life, I have never met anyone who is more of a servant
than Chuck Smith. You can find him installing urinals in a
new building in the middle of the night, picking up trash
at the conference center, crawling in an attic to fix a leaky
pipe, in the parking lot jump starting someone's car, baby-sitting
children, always helping, always blessing others. Why does
he do it? Because he loves God and loves His people.
You never out grow service. It's not something you do until
the church is big enough to get others to do it. The greatest
in the Kingdom is the servant of all. Gayle Erwin's ministry
is a dynamite presentation of this principle; but Gayle lives
it, he doesn't just teach it.