When I went on a tour to Israel, the people on the bus took pictures of the houses because they were made of concrete and stone rather than wood. When an Israeli Arab tour guide came to the United States to visit for the first time, he took pictures of the houses because they were made of wood rather than concrete and stone. It’s funny that each thought the other was unusual.
No matter what you build with, that material is what you have to maintain with. A concrete and stone house can only be repaired effectively with more concrete and stone. So, whatever you begin building with is what you must continue with. Unless of course, you tear down and start over.
One part of my calling is to minister on Biblical Finances. While it is only a part of my calling, I do have an anointing to minister on this subject and have done so all over the world. Pastors everywhere approach the subject of the financial base within the church differently. One thing is for sure; once they begin building it, changing it is extremely hard. Better get it right from the beginning.
It takes time to establish a financial relationship with a congregation. There are no shortcuts to doing it the Bible way. However, out of necessity or for whatever reason, many “methods” have been employed to get the flow of finances moving. Sorry to say that those "methods" become the building material that must be used to maintain what has been started.
The Biblical way of establishing a financial foundation within a church is to consistently teach the people of God their responsibility to finance the ministry and the spread of the Gospel. They need to be taught to serve God, tithe and give because they love God and want to see His Kingdom established and expanded. The people of God do not automatically love God and His work. The reality is that most of the people of God are carnal and selfish until they are matured–which takes time.
Paul had a very good relationship with the Philippian church that included a financial relationship. Here is some of what he said to them.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” —Philippians 1:3–5 ESV
This church had partnered with Paul in the establishment of the Gospel. To be in partnership means both parties are interested in and want the same thing. The common understanding among them is a purpose that is bigger than each of them but includes each of them. That means that each side had a responsibility in the purpose. You know, responsibility is not taught these days because it makes carnal Christians unhappy, and many pastors don’t want to make their church members unhappy.
Paul did not promise the Philippian church any sort of financial return for their partnership. The motive for giving in partnership with Paul was not based upon some promised benefit to the giver. The foundation, or building material, in this relationship was responsibility based upon a common, desired purpose - that being the Gospel.
Paul then told the church that they were in this together, and there was a co-participation among them in the grace of God.
“It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”—Philippians 1:7
The word “partakers” is defined as co-participants. The literal stating of this is: “you all have fellowship with me in grace.” First, the grace of God for salvation was shared among them all, and each was benefitting from it. Beyond that, the grace of God upon Paul's ministry was being shared by the Philippian church.That anointing of an Apostle upon Paul was strengthening the local assembly due to their partnership.The Philippian church was the least problematic that Paul had the oversight of. Now that’s a benefit!
When the saints have to be motivated to give by using the promise of a personal financial return, then they have not picked up their responsibility to finance the ministry and the furtherance of the Gospel. They are responding because of something for them, that they want. When a promise of financial return is not there, then they are not interested, feel no responsibility, and are not likely to contribute. Very carnal if you ask me.
It is customary to give birthday gifts to those we love on their birthday. We do so because we love the people and we try to buy them something that will please them. We are thinking of them. Why is it that when giving to God is presented, there has to be a promise of something in return or people won’t respond? I don’t get it. Perhaps they love people more than they love God. Or, perhaps they have not been taught properly. The saints have to be taught to love God, and that takes time.
Later in his writing to the Philippians, Paul commends them for their “care” of him.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.”—Philippians 4:10
The Philippians financial support of Paul was called “care.” To “care” implies a responsibility. Paul said they had been “careful” to maintain their responsibility to him but had lacked the opportunity. It is apparent that the Philippians viewed their financial support of Paul to be a responsibility of theirs that required them to seek the opportunity to get it to him. This is quite different than being motivated by a promise of financial return.
Paul again commends them for their partnership.
“And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.”—Philippians 4:15
In the partnership between Paul and the Philippians, we know that the Philippians were giving financially to support Paul. That is the “giving” aspect of the “giving and receiving” equation Paul speaks about. The "receiving" part of the equation is that they were receiving Spiritual things sown into their lives by Paul. Paul tells the church at Corinth:
“If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?”—1Corinthians 9:11
Ministers are called and anointed to sow Spiritual things into the lives of God’s people. The people of God are called and anointed to sow carnal things (finances) into the lives of the ministers. That is the giving and receiving being spoken of.
Due to the partnership and commitment of the Philippian church, Paul then tells them what God thinks about this and will do as His response.
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."—Philippians 4:19.
Paul tells them that God will supply every need that they have. There is no promise of a multiplied monetary blessing here. This promise goes far beyond a monetary reward. There are many things we need in life that money cannot buy. Every need means every need. This includes money but is a lot more than money. People miss this point. The Amplified Bible states it this way:
"And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." —Philippians 4:19
Where I come from, “liberally” means a lot. I would much rather have a lot of everything than a mere multiplied blessing on some money.
Another thing that people miss is that God works with commitment. The first commitment is to the Lord Jesus as Lord. From there, everything in God is in response to commitment. From cover to cover, the Bible is a book exhorting us to remain steadfast (committed) unto the end (Hebrews 3:14). The Philippians were blessed with every need because they accepted and were committed to the responsibility to finance the ministry and further the Gospel.
I have heard many a preacher promise the people that God would supply all their need, while at the same time not realizing that they were speaking to people who were not committed nor in partnership.
The promise of God supplying all need was in response to a committed partnership relationship, not in response to an offering. Most Christians do not qualify for this scripture, largely because they have not been taught properly.
A church that has been patiently taught to give out of love for God and that they have a responsibility to do so does not need to be “hyped," "pumped" or manipulated to give. Only a carnal, selfish person has to be promised something for themselves to get them to give. Selfishness is a predominant trait of immaturity. Little children three and four years old are selfish until taught otherwise. Many, many Christians are immature in the area of financial commitment to God, often because they have been “managed” to give by outrageous promises of return rather than being taught their responsibility.
Teaching a Christian into maturity takes time. Often, ministers don’t want to take the time or they don’t feel they have the time to do it. Sometimes desperation takes over.
A mature Christian committed in partnership with God and His servant will prosper in life. God weighs the hearts, and He loves His children being committed. God will supply every need and will not withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly Psalm 84:11. A church built this way will be rock solid and require very little maintenance.