Andy Stanley - Be Rich Celebration 2021
Now for some of you, you've just been coming to our church for several weeks or several months, maybe less than a year. And you kind of know the Be Rich story in terms of what you've heard here. But we want you to know and hear the whole story. And specifically, we want you to know the impact that you made this year through Be Rich. So this is Be Rich.
According to Jesus, and when he said this, originally the people in his original audience had no idea the magnitude of this. He was looking way into the future. I guess he was looking at us and he says, you know, we call it the Sermon on the Mount. He looks at this very disenfranchised, confused oppressed group of people who had some interest in following him. And he said, "You are the light of the world". And they thought, "No, we're not. We're not the light of anything". Little did they know that that little spark 2000 years ago would ignite a fire that really would create a light in a very dark world. And the world will always be dark. And according to Jesus, there will always be a light. And if he's correct, and I always think Jesus is correct. I mean, if you predict your own death and resurrection and pull it off, you just go with whatever he says, right? We say that all the time. And he said that we, that you, are the light of the world.
And there's a sense in which Be Rich is how we, in the words of Jesus, let our light shine before others, that they might see our good deeds and not glorify us. And not say, "Wow, what a great church and what nice generous people". But they would see our good deeds and ultimately look up and glorify or look up and connect with and understand that there really is a Father in heaven. And honestly, and you can imagine, if you could just put yourself in my place, just this one little slot of my life, asking you and asking people all over the world really now to give to Be Rich is really an easy ask. And Sandra would tell you, on the Saturday night before Be Rich, especially the past 8, 9, 10 years, you know, I'll sit at my kitchen counter with my little notes, you know, on my little screens, trying to memorize all this stuff.
And I think to myself, it's perhaps the most humbling moment of the year when I think, God, thank you that tomorrow I get to stand up in front of amazing people, and I get to say the words give 39.95, you know? And everybody laughs and giggles. And the new people are like, "What? Is this an infomercial? What are they doing"? You know? And I just say, give 39.95, and then several weeks later, millions, which you're gonna see in a few minutes, of dollars come rolling in from you to do this fabulous work all over the world. It's an easy ask because the money goes directly to organizations that are serving the underserved. And honestly, that version of generosity, you know, there's a need, meet it. There's a need, meet it. Here's a need, give some money to it. That's not an exclusively Christian way to give. That is kind of an American way to give. But what maybe you don't know is that it was influenced by a Christian ethic of generosity. Because in ancient times, that kind of generosity where, hey, there's a need.
Give some money to meet it. That was actually considered foolish. It was considered irrational. There are ancient writers who said that kind of giving is actually unvirtuous, because why in the world would you do something for somebody else who can't do anything for you? I mean, why would you give your hard earned money, or why would you give your time or your resources to somebody who can't do anything for you? If they can't return the favor, why would you do them a favor to begin with? This was the assumption of the ancient world. It is still the assumption in many parts of our world. I have friends, one in particular. I was gonna tell his whole story, but it's a little bit too long, who, because of business in a somewhat third world country, his heart was broken over the poverty in that country. He began an organization in the country. He's an American, but he began an organization in this country. And because of his business, he knows very wealthy people in that country. And he would say, "Andy, I can't get them to be generous to this organization in their own backyard, taking care of kids in their own backyard". He said, "I don't get it". He said, "When I try to get them to give, and they have plenty of money".
Some of these men are just family, generational money. They're vastly wealthy. He says, "Their response is, 'Hey, I pulled myself up out of poverty, myself. They can pull themselves up as well.'" He says, "I just don't get it". And I said, "Because, we think giving to meet a need is human nature". It is not human nature. Human nature is I'll do something for you if I think you can do something for me. And then along came Jesus and introduced a different way of thinking, and consequently where Christianity flourishes, and I know some of you are kind of anti-Christian or you're watching. It's like somebody is making you watch, or they're buying you lunch, or the whole Christian thing wigs you out. I get it.
But here's what's undeniable. Where Christianity flourishes, people flourish. Because generosity and compassion in the Christian faith are considered virtues. And it stems from the most famous verse in all of the Bible, John 3:16. I'll let you fill in the blank. For God so loved the world that he... For God so loved the world that he, what? He gave. And the reason this kind of generosity was launched in the world, it emanated from the gospel. For God so loved that he didn't give to people who could give back. God so loved the world, he gave to people who were incapable of giving back. And then he says to us, "I want you to do for others, what I've done for you, but I want you to do it in a way that they can see your good works and go, wow. And then you be quick to point them towards your Father in heaven". But giving spontaneously, giving spontaneously, to help immediately, which is what Be Rich is. And we're always gonna do that, and we love doing this. I call that giving 1.0. That's giving when asked to meet an immediate need.
And all over our society, there are opportunities to give immediately to meet, to give spontaneously to meet an immediate need. And that kind of giving should always be part of our culture. It is good for our culture. But what makes Be Rich possible is those of you, the thousands of you, who are what I call the 2.0 givers. You don't wait to be asked. Your planned percentage priority givers. You've already decided ahead of time that you're gonna give, and you choose a percentage off the top and you just give it before you even have an opportunity to save it or spend it. And it's a priority for you. You give it first. You've decided ahead of time. You don't wait to be asked. You give first, then hopefully you save second, and then you live on the rest. And for years and years and years, I've taught this. And I certainly didn't make up the concept. I just kind of made up the way we talk about it, that you give, you save, and you live. You give, you save, and you live.
And those of you who have embraced that as a lifestyle, you're the reason that Be Rich is possible. You're doing, whether you think about it in these terms or not, you're doing for the next generation, what a previous generation did for you. You're ensuring that the local church is in a position to be the light of the world. And I am so extraordinarily grateful. I'm grateful for every $39.95 gift, but I am so grateful for those of you who have given all year long and have given for years so that we can do what we do in this season, especially in light of what's happened the last 19 months. You know, about 19 months ago, our pastors all got together from all of our churches. And we said, "Look, we're not gonna talk about money". Let's just do ministry. We're gonna trust God. The givers are gonna give. The people who aren't going to give, we're not even gonna remind them. Let's just do this. And if we run out of money, we'll get up and say, "Hey, we are out of money, but let's not talk about money".
And you remember at the beginning of COVID, there was so much insecurity. The economy just tanked and you know, 401ks tanked, and people were losing jobs. And like, the last thing we're going to do is get up and say, "The church needs your money". I said, "So, don't mention it". Let's just do ministry and trust God. And then when there are needs in the community, let's collect backpacks, let's collect bicycles, let's raise money for emergencies all over the world. Let's keep being a very outward-focused, giving organization. But let's just chill when it comes to talking to people in our churches about money.
Now, if you've been coming for a while, you're like chill, Andy? I've been coming here for years. You almost never mention it. I know we quit taking up an offering years ago, so it's not like we've overloaded you talking about money. So, but the good news is, in those 19 months, and I mean, you know, you don't live in the world I live in. I know you love our church and love your church, but I'm telling you, to see what happened in our churches financially over 19 months when we weren't even meeting, much less having an opportunity to say, you know, give to the church, you know? 'Cause we didn't do that. You were amazing. You were amazing. But that was the 2.0 givers. It's the ones that's like, I'm gonna give a percentage. I'm gonna give it first and I'm gonna live on the rest, and I'm gonna make sure the church is ready for the next generation, that it's the light of the world.
I don't even have words to tell you how, not just grateful I am, but how proud I am of us as a group of local churches who understand that kind of generosity. Because you understand that planned giving, giving ahead of time and planning ahead of time, is what makes spontaneous giving possible. Or to put it another way, and this is kind of weird, okay? If this is weird, you can say, "I didn't get that part". Kind of a trick question. Do you know how long it took us to raise several million dollars in four weeks? It's like, what? Do you know how long it took us to be able to raise several million dollars in four weeks? It took us 26 years. It took 26 years, because of folks like you, who gave to build parking lots. I mean, that's just not really cool, right? Or to build buildings, or to buy land or to create children's environment.
It's a little bit cooler, 'cause you get there's a return for that, 'cause you got children. To buy AV equipment, to buy microphones. And you have what every single follower of Jesus has. And again, you don't think of it in these terms. You have a plan for how you plan to support your local church financially. Every single Jesus follower has a plan for how they plan to support their local church financially. Not every Christian and not every believer, but every follower. And so for those of you who are in that category, I just want to say, thank you. It's what allows me to sit at my counter in my kitchen on Saturday night and know that no matter how much money we raise, and no matter how much money we give away, I don't have to worry about the blocking and tackling, because there's a group of you that understand that the church is the light of the world and you have funded your local church, whatever local church you attend, and you've done that consistently.
You're the reason that we're able to do what we do, week in and week out in our churches, all over our communities, all over our city, and all over the world. And then after all the daily stuff, turn around and give several million dollars away. But here's where I feel, and I'm not asking for sympathy. And every few years I say this to you, so this may be the first time you've heard it. But this is where I feel a bit, like a bit of a failure as a pastor. And again, don't say, Andy, we love you. I'm not asking for anything, okay? This is really on me, because I'm the leader and I'm responsible. And this is baffling to me. Only about 27% of the people, and this isn't new. This is kind of almost on a national average. Only about 27% of the people who would say North Point Community Church is my church, or Buckhead Church is my church, or East Cobb Church is my church, whatever campus you attend, or whatever church you attend in whatever city you live in. Only about 27% of the people who would call their church home have a plan for how they plan to support that local church financially.
And this is baffling to me. And I don't think it's because the other, about 75% of you are greedy. I don't think you're greedy. I just think you don't have a plan. I don't think you are ungrateful. I just think you just never came up with a plan. So make a plan, okay? Because look, I don't want you to be the average American that gives the average American way. The average American way of giving is this spontaneous, oh, there's a need and somebody pulls on my heartstrings, and you're going to write a check. You should give that way, but you should give better than that. And here's why, and it comes naturally for all of us to be kind of spontaneous in our giving, because Americans in general, Americans in general, we prefer, and this is foolish and embarrassing, but this is all of us. We prefer, just in general, intervention over prevention.
Now let me explain the difference between these two words, okay? Intervention is, like, in the middle of vention. So you know what a vention is right now? No, I don't either. Okay, intervention is, like, it's in the middle of vention, but prevention is before a vention. Okay. That didn't help. Let me, maybe an illustration, all right? So here's the illustration. You ignore your health, right? You ignore your health and then suddenly something happens and you rush to the doctor to intervene. And he says, "You know, you could have prevented this". And you're like, "Yeah, but I'm an American. We don't prevent things. We intervene in things. We wait for there to be an emergency so we can, you know, that's why we have emergency rooms". It's like, oh, you know, sometimes it's an emergency unexpected. Sometimes it's, you know, you could have prevented this. I know, but I'm an American. I don't prevent things. I intervention things. That's just how we live, right. Or you ignore the fundamentals in your marriage and then there's a marriage problem. And then you run to a counselor, which counselors are, you know, they probably don't like this part of the sermon. That's how they make a living, okay?
I'm all for counseling. Believe me, all for counseling, but that's what we do. We ignore the fundamentals. We don't do prevention, then there's intervention. And then we go home and go, you know, from now I'm gonna eat right, I'm gonna exercise, and my wife and I are gonna have a date every week, and my husband are going to have, couch time and conversation. Or you're undisciplined with your finances. And then what happens? You have to have an intervention because there was no prevention. And when you hear it that way, and again, you have your own story, it's kind of silly. It's kind of foolish. And on the backside of it's like, yeah, I really wish I had been eating better. I wish I had been exercising. I wish I'd spent more time with my kids. I could have prevented what's going on right now between me and my kids.
Looking back, it's like, we're all for prevention. But you know, if there's no problem to solve and if there's no tension, there's no motivation to be intentional. That's just the way we live. And the same is true for the way that most Americans give. We enjoy giving to solve a problem that we can see, rather than prevent a problem we can't see. And both kinds of giving are necessary. And we should all be involved in both kinds of giving. But which is better? Let me go back to your health thing. Would you rather be cured of a disease or just avoid it altogether? I would rather prevent than intervent, right? Intervention giving, intervention giving is emotional and the results are measurable. It's like these kids have a need. This family has a need. This part of the community has a need. We're gonna give, and we're gonna look at what we did.
Now there are fewer kids that are dropping out of school. Now there are fewer single parent homes. Now we can measure it. But prevention giving is neither emotional or measurable, but it is superior. And when I say it's not measurable, you can't measure the results of a problem that never materialized to begin with. So planned giving, is my point, to an outward facing church is preventative. And those of you who are 2.0 givers to this church, or any church, you are preventing things that will never be measured because they will never happen in the first place. And it's not emotional. You don't have to be asked and it's not measurable. But at the end of the day, it's superior. Prevention giving, giving to an out, when I say an outward facing church, I mean a church that is doing stuff in the community, doing stuff for families, doing stuff for kids who don't just care about spiritual, internal things, but external things as well. It prevents divorce. It prevents poverty. It prevents drug abuse. It intersects with people before alcohol becomes something they're abusing. It prevents child abuse, or to get really specific for just a moment.
We have an organization within our organization called Fostering Together for many of you who are fostering kids and adopting out of foster care. In terms of intervention, here's the thing. I can tell you exactly, actually. I can tell you exactly how many children you're fostering and adopting out of foster care. I can measure that, because it's intervention. You know, you're just jumping in and helping these kids. But when it comes to prevention, I cannot tell you how many kids weren't removed from their families to begin with because of your ministry and your generosity to an outward facing church. I can't tell you how many high school students won't get their lives hung up on illegal or prescription drugs, because of the influence of InsideOut. I can't tell you how many high school students won't drink and drive because of the influence of a small group leader at InsideOut. I can't tell you how many kids won't drop out of high school because of the intervention, because of the prevention rather, of their relationship with an InsideOut small group leader.
I can't tell you how much pain and how much dysfunction and how much heartbreak you have prevented through your generosity to the local church. You can't measure it, but I'm telling you it's real. Prevention is better than intervention, and giving to an outward facing, involved local church is some of the, if not the, is some of the best prevention giving you will ever do in your life. So in a minute, as we celebrate what you have done through Be Rich this year, which is mind boggling. I actually, when I got the video that we're gonna see in just a minute last night, I thought they sent me the wrong one. I did. I was about to call somebody to say, wait, I don't think these numbers are correct. I'll just leave it at that. But here's what I want you to think about before we look at that. I want the rest of you to join the 27% club. That's not really a club. Maybe we should start a club, okay?
I want the rest of you to become 2.0 givers, because I want you to give better than the average American, because you are better than the average American. I want you to give better. I want you to give better. Not more. Better. Or I want you to give more better, okay? That's really what I want you to do, because you're better. And you know, and you're not greedy. You just haven't come up with a plan and just haven't thought it through the way I've just described it. So I want you to pick a percentage. And again, you know, I'm not going to ask you to do something that I'm not willing to do. And honestly, I told you this before, this is so easy for me and Sandra, because we were raised in families where you just tithe, you just gave 10% to the church. You never saw it. I mean, first dollar, there's a dime firsthand. There's one, and then it was a hundred, and then it was thousands, then it became tens of thousands of dollars. But it's just easy for us. It's just the way we've lived. And as we have prospered, our percentage has gone up.
So it's easy for me to sit up here and say this to you. But I realized for some of you, you've never done that, and the whole idea of picking a percentage and deciding I'm gonna give it first before I, you know, look at my budget and everything else, it's terrifying! But you know what else it is? It is the most physical, tangible way to do what Jesus has invited you to do as a follower, is to seek first the Kingdom of God and the work of God in the world and in the community. So I just want to challenge you. You don't have to do 10%. I mean, you can start like that. I mean, some of you could, but just pick a percentage and decide I'm gonna give it first, and I'm gonna increase it as I prosper. And basically, I'm just asking you to kind of take the training wheels off your giving, because I know you give, because you're not greedy, and be a 2.0 giver.
And I don't think you're opposed to this. I don't think you're against this. You just haven't done it. So do it. If this is your church, the easiest way to do it, and for those of you who don't attend here and your pastor's in the room with you, just hang on, I'll get to you in a second, because he or she is about to have a heart attack. You just need to download our app. It's so simple. Sandra and I have been giving through the app since we came up with the apps years ago. Down here, it says give. Give, there it is. And you just set up recurring giving. And for those of you who are joining us from different churches, your church has an app and you need to download the app and you need to be a recurring giver to your church.
And let me just say this, if you don't attend church, if you don't attend church anywhere, but you're a Jesus follower, you need to locate or find a church in your community that's doing great things, and you need to give every single month to that local church, whether you attend that church or not. And I want to tell you, you should send a letter to the pastor. Say dear so-and-so, I'm not ever coming to your church, or I don't attend to your church or I can't attend church or, you know, whatever, but your church is doing great things in the community, and I want to be a part of what you're doing because every Jesus follower is someone who supports the local church financially.
And you may have been a Christian for a long time. I'm just saying, I want you to follow Jesus. This isn't about the church needs your money, because of the incredible people you're surrounded by. We went through 2020, didn't even meet and we made it fine financially. I want you to be that kind of giver. So just go to the app and just set up recurring giving. And again, for those of you who don't attend here, that's okay. To say it in the most crass, awkward way imaginable, don't procrastinate, automate. I know that was terrible, but I just thought it was kind of cute. Anyway, okay.
Now here's the last thing and then we're gonna look at this cool video. Here's the last thing. If you don't trust me or you don't trust us or you're like, "Ah, I see what you're doing there". I know, 'cause you're smart. You've got me all figured out. Then just look, then find a place that you trust and find a church that you trust and give there. But don't miss this opportunity to be a part of what God is up to in your community and in your city and in the world. And I'll make you this promise. You will never miss money that you give away to a good cause. Isn't that right, Hal? I'm telling you, you'll miss money you bought shoes with. Sorry, ladies. You'll miss money that you bought stupid gadgets with. Guys, you got a drawer full of gadgets. You don't even know what they are anymore, but it was so cool, you know? 39.95, four easy payments.
You know, you bought that thing, and it never worked anyway. You know, it was too cheap to send back. You will miss money you waste, you will miss money that you mis-invest. You will never miss the money that you give that enhances and helps somebody do something great in the world. And here's really the last thing. If you don't do this, let me tell you what's gonna happen. Okay? If you don't do what I've asked you to do, here's what's gonna happen. We're gonna be here for you and your family 24/7, because we're the church and our heavenly Father, through his son, made it very evident that he is here for you, not to get something from you. He is here for you 24/7, and as his hands and his feet, that's what we're gonna do.
I just don't want you to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime to partner with others to do together what none of us would ever be able to do on our own. So to those of you that you're about to see, to those of you who gave to Be Rich and made Be Rich successful, thank you. To those of you who gave to make Be Rich possible, thank you. And on behalf of the tens of thousands of men and women and children who have been impacted by your generosity, people you'll never meet, in places you'll never visit, I just want to say thank you. And just how generous were you with your time and your resources? You were this generous.