Andy Stanley - An Ounce of Prevention
One of the coolest things that I get to do because of how fantastic all of you are is throughout the year, when I talk to church leaders and pastors of other churches, especially big network churches like ours, I get to brag about you, and one of the things I brag about is Be Rich. And when I tell people how Be Rich works and they kinda look at me and they're like, "And then you just give it all away"? I'm like, yes, we give millions of dollars away to our community because I get to be a pastor with some of the most generous people in the world, and certainly in our country and in all of our incredibly communities.
And that first Sunday of Be Rich, for those of you who are here or have been here before, is just so fun because it's spontaneous for the people who haven't been here before and there's still something that's a little bit spontaneous for those of us that do it every single year, and it's so good for the community. And it's easy, it's easy to give away money on Be Rich Sunday, primarily because we know it's a small amount of money, it's a one-time gift, and we know exactly where the money's going. It's going to help children, it's going to help the working poor, it's going to help people with medical conditions, people all over the world, people in our communities. But giving to something like we do on Be Rich is certainly not an exclusively Christian thing, right?
I mean, this is more of an American thing, this is just kinda who we are as a people. We love to be generous and we love to help meet specific needs. But I can all that giving 1.0. This is kind of giving 1.0 giving because you give directly to help immediately. And this is how most Americans give. When there's a specific need, whether it's a hurricane or something in our country or even another country, we give immediately to help immediately. We give directly, rather, to help immediately. And I think that's good, we should all kinda spontaneously give when there's a need, we love to do that.
But what makes Be Rich possible and what makes it possible for us once a year to give several million dollars away to people in our community and specifically to organizations in our community is that so many of you have learned to be 2.0 givers. That you're planned givers, you're percentage givers, you're priority givers, which is what we talk about all the time and I've been talking about for years, that you have a plan for how you plan to give. It's not just spontaneous, it's not just in the moment, it's not, oh my goodness, there's a need I wanna meet.
And for most of us, or many of us, actually, not actually most for us but many of us we've pre-planned to give a percentage of our income away. We decide at the beginning of the year I'm gonna give 10% of my money away, or 15% of my money away, or 4% of my money away. So you're percentage givers. And you're priority givers, which means you give it first, that you're like me, when you get paid, boom, here. I give first, that's just what I do. You don't have to be asked, you don't have to be begged, I don't have to get up here and plead.
In fact, we don't even take up an offering in most of our churches because you give online, there's so many planned givers we're able to just we don't take up an offering in church, which is amazing. And you do this because you're essentially doing for others what others did for you, or you're doing for others what you wish others had done for you. You're doing for others what others did for you in the sense that maybe you grew up in church and you're so grateful for the local church, you wanna make sure this generation has an awesome local church. Or maybe you didn't grow up in church and you still wanna make sure there are other churches like these churches for this generation to grow up in.
And you understand, I mean, you completely get this, this is why we're able to do this, you understand that planned giving makes spontaneous giving possible, that the reason we're able to take up millions of dollars to give it away is because of the planned givers. Or let me put it this way. And please don't tell anybody this, okay? 'Cause we're gonna do a big reveal in a couple of weeks, so you promise you won't tell? All of you watching online, don't tell anybody, all of our churches, don't tell anybody. But on Be Rich Sunday a couple of weeks ago you gave over $2 million in about six hours. I mean, it was amazing. Don't clap, this is a secret, shh, okay?
But here's what I want you to understand, and I know this is kind of an odd question. Do you know how long it took, do you know how long it took for us to raise two point something million dollars in a day? 24 years. Do you know how long it took for us to get to the place where we could raise over $2 million in just a few hours? It took 24 years to be able to do that. And it's those of you who have a plan for how you plan to support your local church financially that make that kind of spontaneous giving possible. Because of your generosity, you make all of this possible. You make the buildings possible, you make the curriculum possible, you make groups possible, you make what we do for students and children and high school students and college students, you make all of that possible, you make the staff possible because you're planned givers.
You're not limited to spontaneous giving, you have a plan, you picked a percentage, and you give it first. You're the reason we can do what we do week in and week out and then give several million dollars away. And so I don't tell you this enough but I just wanna say thank you. But, and here's the but. And I'm not asking for sympathy so I don't need a big aw or anything, okay? But here's where I feel a bit like a failure as a pastor. And what I'm about to say is not a ploy because I'm talking about this today. This has been true for years.
In fact, we do an event for our staff, you have stuff like this where you work probably, it's called Aligned. And twice a year we have all of our new staff come in and we do a two-day training about mission and vision and values, and we do a Q&A, we want people to understand the organization. And then after you've worked for us three years, you have to go back through it. So we do this twice a year, and for years one of the questions that always came up to me, 'cause I'll do a Q&A with our new staff and people coming back through, was, "Andy, what frustrates you the most, or what is your biggest burden for the organization"?
And so for years I have talked about what I'm about to talk with you about right now. So this isn't new, this is an ongoing thing, and it's a constant area where I feel like I haven't been successful. And I promise, if you feel any guilt, you're making it up, because I don't blame you at all, I blame me. But here's my biggest frustration as a pastor. That only about 27% of you, only about 27% of the adults who call one of our churches their home church have a plan for how they plan to support the local church financially. Only 27%. The good news is it's better than 80-20. It's better than that but it ain't much better. Every once in a while we get to 30.
And what I mean is as we are able to keep up with the money that comes in and where it comes from, only about little under 30% of our families give consistently. And by consistently I mean even four times over the course of a whole year. And so the reason it makes me feel like a failure is not that we can't pay our bills and it's not that we don't have enough money to do what we feel like we need to do in the community. In fact, today's message has nothing to do with the church needing your money, as you're gonna see in just a minute. The reason it makes me feel like a failure a little bit The reason it makes me feel like a failure a little bit is because financial stewardship to a local church is part of what it means to follow Jesus.
Now, I know a lot of people call themselves Christians and that's interesting and there's a whole history behind the word Christian, I like the word Christian. But as you know, I talk more about Jesus followers, and here's why. Because being a Christian is sometimes limited to oh here's something I believe. But being a Jesus follower is consistent with and is connected with something we do, it's dynamic. And Jesus followers, Jesus followers are so personally, emotionally, financially, and in terms of schedule invested in what Jesus is up to in the world, Jesus followers fund what Jesus is doing in the world through the local church with just a little bit of push. And if you don't believe me, just read the gospels, but be careful 'cause Jesus is way more harsh than I'm about to be.
You can't be, you can't be submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ, in other words, he's not actually your Lord, he's not actually your Boss, your Ruler, your King, he's not actually your Lord, you cannot be fully submitted to the lordship of Christ and not support his work with the resources that you believe he has provided for you. You can't. You can be a Christian, you can pray, you can believe in your heart, you can hope you go to heaven when you die, you can believe Jesus died. You can believe, believe, believe, believe, believe. But you are not submitted to the lordship of Christ if certain do things are not part of your lifestyle, because we have been called not to be Jesus believers, we've been called to be Jesus followers.
So just to make it personal. What I do with my money is evidence of what's most important to me. And I'm not talking about the one-offs, okay? You're like, oh, I saw this thing, I just had to have it. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the blocking and tackling, the consistent things I do with my money. If you wanna know what's most important to me, you'll look at how I spend my money, you will know what's most important to me. No matter what I, and this is why Jesus was so brilliant in his teaching, he is inescapably clear in his teaching, no matter what I say with my mouth, follow the money and you will know what's most important to me. No matter what I say is important, you look at how I spend my money, you're going to know what's most important to me, you're going to know what I value most.
And Jesus knew this so he makes this statement. And this isn't a, hey, if you believe in Jesus, you'll believe this is true. This is just true. You may be anti-church. This is true of you because Jesus was the master teacher and he knew the heart of women and he knew the heart of men, and here's what he said. You've heard this before, this is so brilliant. He said, "Where your treasure is". p And where your treasure isn't. Where your treasure is, in other words, where you put your financial resources, where your treasure is. And at which point we should stop and ask the question, and aren't you glad you don't have to answer this out loud, where is it? Where is your treasure? In other words, if I decided I was gonna determine what's most important and valuable to you based on how you spend your money, it's like...
In fact, really quick, this isn't in my notes. Years and years and years ago when I first started off as a pastor, Ron Blue, some of you have heard of Ron Blue, he gave me some great advice. I saw super young, Sandra and I were just married. Here's what he told me, this is great advice. He said, "Andy, you should handle your personal finances in such a way that if they were to be published, if they were to be published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution", years ago, "if they were to be published in an Atlanta newspaper, you would not be embarrassed, you would be proud". That is great advice. That's great advice for anybody but it's specially great advice for a pastor.
And so many times through the years when Sandra and I had an opportunity to do something that was kinda marginal, I don't know, I wouldn't wanna have to explain that, we just haven't done it. And when it comes to our giving, I thought, I wanna live my life financially in such a way that if everybody in our churches, much less the whole city, found out what we did with our money, we wouldn't be embarrassed. Because Jesus is right. What I do with money, what you do with your money, it's an indication of where our heart is. It is the litmus test of what's most important to you and what's most important to me.
That's why I said, I mean, let's not play games. And if you're not a Christian, this is a great day not to be a Christian. Whoo, okay, in fact, after today, you may never become a Christian. It's like, if I have to do that, I know, okay? And this is an area where you have a right to kinda call some of us out as hypocrites because you cannot be a Jesus follower and not submit your financial resources to your King and to your Savior. You're kidding yourself. "Where your treasure is", you know how this ends, he says, "that's where your heart is". This isn't something you do, this is just something that is. In other words, just as it's true of me, it's true of me, what you do with your money is evidence of what's most important to you.
So Jesus calls us out, he says, "Look. Following me is not some internal private thing, are you kidding me? Following me is a do thing. You don't do something so you'll go to heaven, you do something because you've surrendered every part of your life to me, and what you do with your money is a big part of that". Now, can I say something just for a second. And I know this is very difficult for you to believe. But I was actually a man before I was a pastor. That's shocking, I know, but it's true. Because I know you think I live in a closet, they wind me up, put me out here on Sunday, and put me back in the closet.
And the reason I know that is because every once in a while when I'm out in the real world where I actually spend most of time, I run into some of you and you're like, "You're real"! You wanna touch me like, "I thought you were just a two-dimensional person. I didn't even know you could do this. I thought you could only do this 'cause you're Flat Stanley on the screen". Right, okay. I get that. So guys, I understand this. Money means to me what money means to you, and my money means to me what your money means to you. It means security, it's evidence of who I am, of how much I've accomplished, of what I'm gonna do in the future. I totally get that. I don't live in some alternative universe where money is somehow magically different to me than it is to you.
And here's what I know about most men, or many men. And ladies, this is true for some of you as well, but just in my experience, this is kind of more of a guy thing. Because of how we measure and view ourself through the lens of our finances, what we have, how much we make, how we live, how much we have saved up, what we're gonna do in the future, oftentimes for men our financial resources are the last hold out when it comes to surrendering to the not belief-ship, the followship, the lordship of Jesus Christ.
And I say that because I've heard story after story after story of men who said, "You know what? You know when it finally became real for me? Do you know when it finally became emotional to me? Do you know when I was finally all in"? I'm like, yeah, I know what you were finally all in. It wasn't when you finally prayed that prayer, finally lifted a hand in worship, or finally decided to come to church every Sunday. I know when it was. It's when you finally said, "Heavenly Father, you can have all of me, including my money! Okay, wait, okay, wait a minute. I've gotta think about this, I've gotta think about this". I understand that. But I'm just telling you, Jesus has called us out. Say what you wanna say, believe what you wanna believe, tell people what you wanna tell people. Until our Heavenly Father has access to what represents us and what sits heavy in our heart and is central to who we think we are, our money.
I love you. But you're playing a game. And until your Heavenly Father has access to your money, he doesn't have access to your heart. And guys, can I just press a little harder? This is where if you're not careful you're gonna be a hypocrite, and I know you don't wanna be a hypocrite 'cause you don't like hypocrites. You really don't like hypocrites. So don't become someone you don't like, okay? But here's what happens. You kinda withhold and you do a little here, a little there, and you're so glad we don't pass that stupid buck anymore.
It was just the guilt bucket. Just, do you have any cash? I don't have any cash, nobody has any cash. And there every once in a while, it's year end or Christmas or something with your office, and you give a little here and there. And then you hit a financial bump. Suddenly you're not gonna get the bonus you thought you were gonna get. Suddenly the company says, "Hey, we had to go month, nobody's getting paid". Suddenly you lose your job, suddenly there's a big medical bill, suddenly there's a big financial bump. And what do you do? You pray. Oh Lord, now I was just kidding, but from now on.
You pray, and of course you should pray. I'm not saying you shouldn't pray, you should pray, you should say, "God, help us. Help me find a job, help my wife find a job, help my son or daughter, we need to get that scholarship. Help us, help us, help us". In other words, what you're saying is, without meaning to you're saying, "God, I would like to invite you into the world of my personal finances". And I think you should pray those prayers. But shouldn't that feel a little weird, when you've never made that part of your life accessible to your Father in heaven?
Now I'll be honest. This is easier for me than it is for most men, and I'll tell you why. Because I'm such a godly man. No, just ask my wife and kids. They're like, "No. No no no no no. He's only good with the microphone on". Anyway, so. Here's why it's easier for me. Because I was raised this way. I was raised in a household where we prayed about stuff and where I saw my parents give money we couldn't afford to give away. It's like, what? And you know, God will provide. And I'm like, yeah, but you know. I was raised that way. And in several times in my life, and I've told you some of these stories, not all of them. And I don't know if God was preparing me for being a pastor, I don't know. Just through high school, starting back in high school and in college, moments where I knew I was supposed to give money I really couldn't afford to give away to specific things, along with tithing. I've always just, you know, 10% off the top goes to the church. That's just been the way I was raised.
So when you start that way, it's easy to continue that way no matter how many zeroes get added on, tagged on. So it's easier for me. But I understand this struggle, and here's the thing. God didn't need your money. God good news is because you're surrounded with 27% of the people who are generous, the church doesn't need your money. You need to give your money. This is a discipleship thing. This is a follow Jesus thing. And when you feel that toggle war in your heart, and I'm gonna talk a little bit more about why 'cause I get this, in a minute, you need to pay attention to that because if that's at the epicenter of your struggle with you and your Heavenly Father, that means you're close to a breakthrough in terms of your experience of God. And you know what? As your pastor, I need to pull and drag and push and prog you every once in a while because this is core to what it means to follow Jesus.
So, I wanna try one more time to get the 73% of you that are kinda tipping us every once in a while that call one of our churches home, I wanna try one more time to get you to become a 2.0 giver. Now, part of the problem is this, and this is something we can all relate to. The part of the problem is this, that we are prefer intervention over prevention. This is just human nature, all right? And you know what I mean by intervention, like in the middle of a vention, right? Prevention is right before the vention. No, okay, anyway.
So here's what I mean by that. So what do we do? We ignore our health, we ignore our health and get all kind of bad health habits, and then we have a health problem and we run to the doctor and say, "Doctor, I need you to give me something, give me a pill or give something". And the doctor's like, "You know what you need to do"? You're like, "I don't wanna hear that. I don't wanna do prevention, that sounds like exercise and diet, that sounds like prevention. I need an intervention. I need to be healed, I need to feel good fast".
Or you ignore the fundamentals of your marriage, or you ignore the fundamentals of your relationship with your kids. You just work all the time or you're just emotionally disconnected. You just ignore the fundamentals and suddenly there's a marriage problem or a problem with one of your kids, so what do you do? You go running to a counselor, or guys, we get dragged to the counselor. And all of a sudden there's an intervention. Or you ignore sound financial principles. You just kinda spend money, go into debt, use your credit cards, change things up, live like everybody else. Suddenly there's a financial crisis, and what do you do? You run to a debt consolidator or you run to a financial counselor or you call the church and we get you involved in MoneyWise, which we love to do.
But the point is it's just human nature to avoid prevention and then get ourselves in trouble and then we need some intervention, which is, to use a word from the Old Testament, that's foolish. And we know it's foolish when we're in the middle of it, and we know it's foolish when we see other people doing it. But what's true of us in those areas is also true of us when it comes to our giving. Here's what I mean by that. Because all of us, me included, we all love to give to solve a problem. We like to give to solve a problem rather than prevent a problem. But which is better?
Let me ask you this way. Would you rather be cured of a disease or avoid it altogether? Oh yeah, avoid it altogether, that's right. And prevention is better than intervention. So intervention giving, which is what most Americans do, and I want you to be better than most Americans, intervention giving is emotional. I see a need, I see a picture, what's gonna happen if we don't? They lost everything in a hurricane, they lost everything in a tornado. Prevention giving is emotional and the results are measurable. We gave X amount of money and it went to that organization and it did X amount of good. Awesome. But prevention giving is neither. It's neither emotional or measurable. But prevention giving is actually superior because prevention giving, I know this is, I mean, you're gonna run to write this down it's so brilliant, prevention giving prevents things.
Yeah. Nobody wrote that down, okay. And here's why I'm talking to you about it today. Systematic giving, not hey they got a need, I wanna meet a giving, systematic giving to an outward-facing church is preventative. That systematic giving, those 27% of you that you've just decided I don't care, every time I get paid, every month, whatever, systematic giving, planned giving to an outward-facing church is preventative. And by outward-facing I mean a church that is doing things in the community, not saving their money to change, to fix something, or maybe one day, someday. No, that takes the money and actually puts it into the community, that's growing, that's building, an extraordinary church that's committed to the next generation.
In fact, when I talk to pastors and we talk about church stuff, here's what I tell them, I say, "Let me tell you what a great church is. A great church is people who love Jesus, who love like Jesus, but here's the differentiator, and who have a plan to ensure the next generation loves and loves like Jesus". That is an outward-facing, forward-facing church. They're for the community and they're for the next generation. They're for the community and they're for the next generation. And I'm telling you, when you give to that kind of church, it is preventative giving. But it is not emotional and it is not measurable, but it is superior. It's mature, it's 2.0. It prevents divorce, it prevents poverty, it prevents drug abuse, it prevents child abuse, it prevents spouse abuse.
I mean, just to give you a specific example. One of the areas that we're knee-deep in, hip-deep in around here is foster care because what's happening in the state of Georgia, we decided years ago let's just weight in and help solve that. And so we have lots and lots of families who are fostering children. And many of those families have actually adopted out of foster care. But that's intervention. So, for example, I can tell you how many children we're fostering and adopting out of foster care. I can tell you how much money went in, I can tell you how many kids are in some of our homes and are being adopted out of foster care. I can tell you exactly how many, and if I told you those stories, we would all be in tears, we would clap, we would cheer, and you would give.
'Cause it's amazing what some of you are doing in this area. But here's what I can't tell you. And here's where you're making a bigger difference than you'll ever know because it's not measurable. I can't tell you how many children weren't taken out of their homes to begin with because mom and dad stayed away from drugs, stayed away from alcohol abuse, didn't have an affair, stuck together through hard times, because of the influence of the local church. You can't measure that but I'm telling you it happens all the time, all the time, all the time. I hear it from all of our churches whenever I go out in the community to meet people.
In fact, Thursday, I'm in my office Thursday, I've got an appointment with a guy, he walks in, we're talking about something unrelated to any of this. Before he starts he says, "Look Andy. You don't know me very well but I've just gotta tell you one thing". And he mentions his wife's name. "So and so and I, you need to know, we would not be together today if it was not for the influence of this church, I just wanted to tell you that". Then we talked about what he came to talk about. You can't measure that. You can't predict it. But I'm telling you, it happens all the time, and the reason it happens is because we're here, the programs we have, and for the 27% of you who are just systematic preventative givers, you are making a difference and you'll never know the depth or the impact you're making until some other world that we live in where according to Jesus, he tells this amazing parable, somehow we're gonna know the difference we made through our generosity in this life.
Kids are impacted. I can't tell you how many teenagers aren't gonna overdose because of the influence of Inside Out. I can't tell you how many young ladies are not gonna have a surprise pregnancy because of what they're taught at Inside Out and in Transit by our incredible small group leaders who plug into their lives and partner with parents. I can't tell you how many kids aren't gonna drive drunk. I can't tell you how many lives are gonna be saved or spared because of what students and children learn in our churches.
So to those of you who give, I can't tell you how much heartbreak you've allowed people to avoid through your generosity. You can't measure it. But it's real. Because prevention is better than intervention, if intervention can be avoided. And giving, I'm just telling you and you know this, giving to an outward-facing church is some of the best prevention giving you will ever do. And I want all of you, not just the other 77%. I mean, yeah, the whole 77%, I want all of you to join me and my family and this other group of people in making that kind of difference in the world. Imagine, look at what we've done, look at what you've done with just 27% of us blocking and tackling. Imagine if another 27.5% of the people who call one of our churches home joined us. I'm telling you, we can't imagine it, and I'll tell you why. It has never been done. But I want all of you to be 2.0 givers because you're better than the average American and you should give better.
Now, come on, for 24 years I've taught you, and this is for you, give, save, live. Give, save, live, give, save, live. This is for you. You give first, save second, live on the rest. Give first, save second. This is how you get financial security. But this is how you impact the world through the church as well. You pick a percentage and you give it off the top. So come on. Take the training wheels off of your giving. You're already giving, take the training wheels off and try it for a year, try it for six months, do something extraordinary. Prevent more than you can ever imagine by finding and giving to a local church. And the easiest way to do this is you just get our app. We've made it so easy. You get your app, you go down there to the giving thing, and you just set a recurring giving. Pick a dollar amount. Hey, pick $4. I'm gonna give $4 every month. Hey, at least you've joined the 27% that are giving on a consistent basis. But do something, right? Don't procrastinate. Automate.
Okay, that's terrible. Okay, take that down, yeah, okay, so, now. I knew it was gonna get kind of tense, yeah. But this is why we don't take up an offering, so many of you have automated your giving. It's why we're able to do so much and we want the rest of you to join us. And we've got stuff to do, we've got churches to build, we've got people to minister to. I mean, again, if we harness the financial horsepower of our churches, the world's never seen. It's never happened before. Because it's so difficult to get people to do this when it comes to their resources and the kingdom of God. Now here's the last thing, and I'm trying to get anybody to leave the church.
On the contrary, I want us to outgrow our churches again. But if you don't trust me, or if you don't like me, or you don't like this church, or you think, I'm just kinda, look, I'm telling you. If you're a believer, you're a Christian, but you're not a follower 'cause you haven't dealt with this yet, I'm telling you, for your sake, for your family's sake, for the kingdom's sake, go find a church you trust and come up with a plan and have a plan to support that church financially. I'm serious, you cannot spend another season of your Christian life fooling around with this. It is so central to what it means to follow Jesus.
Okay, now I'm really gonna meddle. And do not, and men, this is a guy thing. I've never heard a woman throw this out but I've heard men for years throw this out, either to me or indirectly and it gets back around to me 'cause I'm so tired of hearing this, so I wanna help you. Do not hide behind the flimsy, lousy excuse, "Well, Woodstock City Church doesn't need my money, and North Point Community Church doesn't need money, and Gwinnett Church, they don't need my money, Decatur City Church, they don't need my money". That is so irrational and you are smarter than that, and here's why I mean that, so I want you to pay very close attention if you've ever used that, "Honey, they don't need our honey".
I want you to listen. You wouldn't attend a church that needed your money or you'd already be there. You're kidding yourself. Your kids wouldn't like it. You wouldn't like it. You know why you wouldn't like attending a church that needs your money? Because what are they always gonna be talking about? Yeah, give give give, money money money. We're gonna line up, I don't want any of that loud money, I want that quiet money. You ever heard that one? If you haven't, God bless you. If you have, that's why you're here. We're gonna sing another hymn and I'm gonna tell you all these sad stories and we only got every other light bulb on today. Listen, look up here, I'm serious. You wouldn't even attend that church. You wouldn't like it, your kids wouldn't like it.
So follow me, you're ready? I need you to put your thinking cap and we're gonna wrap this up. If you'll only give to a church that needs your money, but you won't attend a church that needs your money, you'll never give to a church you actually attend. Let me go over this again. Because this is where some of you are, I understand this. If you're only, I'm not gonna give 'cause they don't need it but I'm not gonna go to one that needs it, so I never have to give because the church I go to doesn't need my money. That's ridiculous. Besides, this isn't about the church needing your money.
Look up here. This is about you deciding to follow Jesus with 100% of you, and 100% of you includes the resources God has allowed you to steward in this little itty-bitty momentary life. So don't fall for that and don't wait to be asked and don't wait for another crisis. Be a 2.0 giver. This is central to your decision to follow Jesus. Become a prevention or preventative giver. Now, I'm a good motivator. If I wanted to, I could get up here and show you all kinds of verses and create all kind of guilt, or I could go the magic route and say, if you give God a dollar, he'll give you 10. If you give God 10, he'll give you 100. If you give him a 100, he'll give you 1,000. Give him 1,000, he'll give you 100,000. But that's not true.
In fact, the people who teach that, if they really believed it, they would be sending us money. Just think about that later, right? I could tell you the Bible teaches tithing, the Bible teaches I believe in tithing, the Bible teaches tithing, and if you tithe, God will bless you. And maybe he will. It's not about that either. Or I could tell you... I mean, I could all do all kinds of stuff. But all of those motivations and all of those leverage points, you know what? That's all about you, and that's all about me. This isn't even about us. This isn't even about something coming our way. This is a response to what has already come our way while you were still a sinner.
I mean, if you're a Christian, you already believe this. While you were still a sinner, Christ died for you. And now he says, "Follow me, with all of you". Because giving is just the natural, appropriate repose to God's gift to us. And this is our, I'm telling you, this is why it's easy for me to give. This is our opportunity to join our Heavenly Father in what he's up to in the world because, like it or not, respect it or not, it doesn't matter, it wasn't our decision, the church, the church is the hope of the world. The church is the hands and feet of Jesus on planet earth.
The church is plan A, plan B, and plan C. It's the whole thing. And we have been invited to participate at the epicenter of God's activity in the world. Why would you wanna miss that? That's why I say all the time, the greatest investment you can make with your life other than your family is in a local church, because that's what God is up to in the world. And I just don't why you would want to miss that.
So, I want you to come up with a plan of how you plan to support your local church financially. Don't be average. Don't give like everybody else. Take the training wheels off, be the exception, be a preventative giver. Be a 2.0 giver. Don't settle for intervention, decide you're gonna be a preventative giver. Because after all, you know this verse, for God so loved the world that he gave 10% of his Son. "For God so loved the world that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us", so we could know what God is like. So we could know that he likes us. So that we can experience what it means to be made in his image and live under the canopy of his love and the assurance of his presence, and then to say, well, if there's a need. Are you kidding? How can we not live like this with all of our lives, including our resources? But, last thing. If you choose not to, we will still be here for you. If you choose not to, we will always be here for you and for your family, because that's what we're called to do.
And I'll tell you a secret. It's what we enjoy doing, because for most of us it's what somebody did for us and it made all the difference in the world, because I could tell you, I've told you this story before, I know where I might be apart from the local church. And some of you know where you might be if you had grown up in a church like this. So, come on. Come up with a plan for how you plan to support your local church, this local church, financially. And at the end of the day, it will not be about money. It will be about access to your heart by your Heavenly Father, and it may be the thing that changes everything for you.