Overcoming A Poverty Mindset In The Church

Have you ever heard…(or said)

I work so hard, but still can’t make ends meet.
If the economy would turn around, I might have a chance.
You don’t understand what it is like to struggle.  It’s the story of my life!
If I ever have any extra, I’ll be the first to give back and live generously.

You nailed it…that’s the poverty mindset.  And it can be both heartbreaking and frustrating to deal with this mindset as you call people to imitate the generous ways of God.  So, what do you do?

For starters, you can search Google.  There are a ton of articles related to the poverty mindset online.  Some of these resources are developed by churches and ministers…others by sociologists and well-intentioned bloggers.  But, let me save you some time.  They pretty much all say the same thing.  The majority of these resources encourage you to nudge people from an “I can’t” mindset to an “I can” attitude.  Sounds good right?

There’s only one problem.  Momentary motivation rarely leads to long term change.

Other ministry blogs will tell you that the poverty mindset is destructive and they point to a variety of cut and paste verses from Proverbs.  They tell you to work hard, be more disciplined and stop making foolish decisions.

But, here’s the problem.  All of these answers address the surface and the temporal.  They don’t get to the root of the issue.  Each of these suggestions buys into the idea that we are defined by what we have and by what we do…not by who we are.

Identifying the real issue

I have never been in a church that is completely absent of the poverty mindset.  It’s almost ridiculous to see this in the U.S., but there are pockets of it in every group of people that gather for worship.  Additionally, there are some church communities that run their organization out of a poverty mindset.  They are always worried about meeting the budget.  They are uptight about last week’s giving and they don’t know how they will get through another strenuous financial year.

So, what do we tell those disciples who think this way?  What do we say to churches which operate in this manner?  Work harder?  Be more disciplined?  Plead more often?

While those answers may be contextually appropriate, they don’t address the real issue.  Here’s the big question: Who are you?

Are you defined by what you have, what you’ve done…or by who you are?  At its core, the poverty mindset is an identity issue.  And it makes perfect sense that

both people and entire church communities would define themselves by the resources in their possession.  Isn’t that what the rest of society does?  Isn’t that the way of the world?  Doesn’t that fit with the business models and consumer mindsets of our day?

But, listen to the resounding theme of Scripture…

  • The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  (Psalm 23:1)
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  (Galatians 2:20)
  • For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

According to the Bible, our identity is not found in what we possess, it is found in who possesses us.  Our lives are hidden in Him and the actions that we take are actions of faith.  We are not identified by our meager possessions, we are identified by our Father–who created, sustains and rules over all things.

Isn’t that the way that Jesus lived?  Even Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:30).  He – our perfect example – said that the only way to find your identity is to lose yourself in the lordship and leadership of the Father.  And no child of the King is poor.

Jesus “had no place to lay his head,” but we would be hard pressed to call Him lacking.  He “had no place to lay his head,” but in spite of that, He called us to join Him in His abundance (John 10:10).  That’s because living on a peasant’s income in ancient Israel didn’t make Him poor.  He was rich in every way as He lived by faith and trusted in the astounding wealth of His Father.

He didn’t have a poverty mindset because His identity was not wrapped up in His (on-hand) possessions.

A story for perspective

A few years ago, a friend made a last minute request that I go to Orlando and attend a conference he was hosting.  I almost laughed at the proposal.  There was no way.  Living paycheck-to-paycheck didn’t provide room for a last minute flight, hotel room, rental car, conference fee and meals.  But days later, I clearly sensed God telling me to go.  So, I crawled out of bed and got on the internet.  I had a small reserve remaining in my bank account and knew that if I used it, our family could potentially run into deep financial trouble.  This was not wise money management.

Through a remarkable series of online events, I was able to book a last minute flight at a deep discount and package it with a hotel rate that was more than fifty percent off.  All told, the trip would cost me about $300.  So, I booked it.

On the last day of the conference, I got a surprise.  No one in Orlando knew my financial situation.  No one knew what the trip would cost me.  But as we sang in worship, a gentleman came up and tapped me on the shoulder.  He told me that someone had been prompted by God to give me a gift.  He wouldn’t tell me who the gift was from, other than to say it was not from either him or my friend that was hosting the conference.

Humbled, I said thank you and slipped the envelope into my pocket.

As the conference closed, I made my way to the rental car and headed for the airport.  When I opened the envelope, there was a wad of $20 bills.  In total, the gift was $300…covering the cost of the entire trip and replacing the meager reserve funds that were left for our family.

That event did not happen because I changed my attitude or mental state.  It did not happen because I tightened up my boots and worked a little harder (I was already working about 60 hours a week at the time).  It happened because I decided to listen to my Father and trust in

my identity as His child.

One note of clarification: Faith is not easy (that’s why it’s called faith).  And I still have moments where I define myself by the resources in my possession.

But, in my healthy moments, I know that my identity is hidden in Christ…not in stuff.

And realizing that identity shift is the key to helping your church members…or your church community…overcome the poverty mindset.  Let me know how this works for you…or simply what you think…in the comments section below.

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Read more from John Richardson by visiting http://www.generouschurch.com/

Practical Tips for Everyday Generosity

The following article was originally published at generouschurch.com.

We need to make something clear at the beginning of this post.  We believe that the practice of generosity helps us become more like Jesus.  It is an imitation of Him.  It is a non-negotiable of being a disciple (one who learns from the ways of Jesus).  That’s the heart of this article.  We want to find ways to practice generosity on a daily basis for the purpose of growing as disciples of Jesus.

Enough clarification.  If you’re still reading, we’re on the same page.  You want to live generously.  You want to help equip others around you to live with an open hand.  So, how can we do that?  For those of us who have trouble remembering to floss our teeth, how can we add anything new to our rigid daily routines?  How can we add something valuable to our lives that will actually stick?  How can we fit daily generosity into the busyness of life?

Idea #1 – Redefine the motives for generosity.  (Hint: it’s about what He’s done for us.)

When our thinking is transformed, our habits will follow suite.  Paul said it pretty well when he said, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Most people determine their acts of generosity by the patterns of this world.  We decide whether or

not to give based on the cultural standards around us.  So, if a natural disaster – like a hurricane – hits the coast and millions of people are negatively impacted, we may fall in line and give toward the relief efforts.  That’s an acceptable form of generosity in our culture.  However, if someone causes a disaster – by texting and driving for example – we don’t send relief funds to help the texting driver who caused the accident.  Our motives are driven by our understanding of right and wrong.  In both of those cases, our giving desires are highly influenced by the “patterns of this world.”  Those motives are shaped by our culture.

And the patterns of this world don’t encourage us to give generously.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  Western culture encourages us to either consume or save.  Not give.  Therefore, we have to transform our thinking in order to become truly generous givers.  We have to renew our minds by something apart from the patterns of this world to inform our giving decisions.

Scripture indicates that the best motives for living generously are the love and grace of God.  God is good for nothing.  I know that sounds irreverent, but hear me out.  God is good to us even when we have nothing good to offer Him in return (He’s good for nothing).  When we understand that He is open-handed toward us and that He gives generously – even when we don’t deserve it – it does something to us.  It transforms our minds and re-wires our motives.  Seeing the love and grace of God expressed through His generosity awakens us to be good for nothing as well.

Idea #2 – Redefine the definition of “wasteful spending.”

Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”

Think about the implications of that verse.  Ray Steadman once said, “The idea expressed here is one of openhanded generosity. Give freely, wisely, and generously to the needs of those about. This phrase, ‘Cast your bread upon the waters,’ was a proverb in Israel for what looked like wasteful expenditure. No one would take good bread and throw it in the river. But here we are enjoined to do that very thing. This is not encouraging us to be spendthrifts, to thoughtlessly and carelessly give away our money, spending it like a drunken sailor. What is meant is, be willing to take a chance where a real need is evident.”

Many of us subconsciously associate giving with wasteful spending.  We see the gift that we gave as a personal loss.  And when we don’t hear astounding reports of how the gift has changed lives, we are tempted to think, “I may have wasted that resource.”

But people who regularly model the generous lifestyle have chosen to redefine “wasteful spending.”  They might define wasteful spending as anything that does not advance the kingdom of God…or any spending that does not benefit my relationship with God.  Either way, the new definition keeps God at the epicenter of life rather than exalting money to that un-natural position.

Idea #3 – Find a generosity partner to share the journey with you.

We were created for community.  And studies consistently show that we are more likely to stick with lifestyle changes when we do them in community.  Chip Ingram’s book, The Genius of Generosity, is built on a story of how this works.  When Chip was a young pastor, there was a man in his church (John Seville) who brought Chip into a secret giving pact.  As Chip and John worked together, they were both strengthened in their commitments to generosity.  A commitment to generosity – in a relational setting – gave them entirely new ways of seeing God’s generosity and propelled them much further into generous living than either man would have experienced on his own.

So, find another person that shares your heart for imitating God’s generosity and press forward into a new lifestyle together.

Idea #4 – Find a way to say “yes” to giving opportunities for an entire day.

Pick a date.  Set aside a small sum of money.  And say yes all day.  Anytime someone tells you of a need and asks for help, say yes.  Make it your goal to say yes to every giving opportunity that comes your way for the entire day.

This idea has been recently promoted by a guy named Sasha Ditcher.  He is the founder of Generosity Day and has spoken

about this idea at a Ted Conference (watch it on YouTube).  But, before Sasha came up with the idea of saying “yes” for an entire day, this thought was promoted by another creative thinker – Jesus.  In Luke 6:30, Jesus makes this radical proposal

– “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

So, not only did Jesus encourage us to say “yes” to all giving opportunities, but He also added that we should graciously allow a thief to keep what he has stolen from us.  He said all of that just before He said these famous words, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

In other words, take the whole “loving your neighbor as yourself” idea seriously.

So, spend an entire day saying “yes.”  If it doesn’t do anything else for you, it will burn in your eternal consciousness the importance and value of daily generosity.

What practical tip would you offer to someone who wanted to live generously each day?

The Most Enormous Little Subject In the Bible

Generosity feels like such a small topic.

It feels small in terms of annual preaching and in terms of overall impact on the church. I mean, honestly, it is important for people to give…but is it really important for church leaders to take a long, hard look at generosity? Is there even enough Biblical material on this subject to make it worth a “deep dive?” On the scale of faith topics, this is one that seems gnat-sized. It hangs around just enough to bother us and distract us from things like love, faith, family and the “big” doctrines of faith.

At least, that’s the way it feels.

For some reason, recent scholarship has made us feel like generosity is a take-it-or-leave-it subject for the church. We know that the church needs money to operate, but we don’t really know how generosity impacts our spiritual lives. We know that God calls us to be generous for the good of others (i.e. The Good Samaritan), but we don’t really understand why generosity is good for us…or even if it’s good for us.

So, how important is this topic in Scripture? Does generosity really matter as long as all of the healthy, growing ministries are properly funded?

Here are five reasons that Biblical generosity will stay at the forefront of the church:

1. The kingdom of God is often experienced – or missed – because of generosity.

Remember this – Jesus spoke more about the kingdom than He did about heaven, hell, salvation or almost any other subject. And according to Jesus, the “gate” to the kingdom is often related to money and possessions. For instance, in the Parable of the Sower (a kingdom parable), Jesus says, “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). For other instances, see Matthew 19:16-25, Matthew 6:31-34, Matthew 13:44-46, Luke 19:11-27 or Matthew 25:14-30.

2. The Gospel comes riding on the back of generosity.

John 3:16 captures the Gospel in a sentence and clearly states the vehicle that God chose for the delivery of His good news: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” There is no way to comprehend the Gospel apart from generosity. He gave Himself. He stepped into the mess of humanity as an infant and purposed to trade His eternal inheritance for our place in death. Beyond that, He extends the forgiveness and grace that are necessary for us to receive the Gospel. So, from the onset of the Gospel to its eternal conclusion, it is characterized by generosity.

3. Generosity is one of the primary defining marks of discipleship.

In Luke 6, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:27-30).

Later in that same passage, Jesus explains His reasoning for this radical call to generosity. In verse 35, He says, “Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” In other words, Jesus notes that as we become radically generous, people will perceive that we are pupils and imitators (disciples) of the Most High God.

4. Generosity has been God’s plan from the beginning.

Genesis starts with the words, “In the beginning, God created.” Can we quickly dispel a light-hearted myth? God was not lonely. He did not create because He was lacking in some way. In fact, many scholars agree that He created to share…to give.

He created us in order to share His love and joy with us. In the beginning, God sought opportunities to practice generosity.

5. Generosity characterizes the end of the world (as we know it).

As Scripture comes to a dramatic conclusion in the book of Revelation, God is still giving. The created world is not thrown away in a fit of justified rage, but it is redeemed. It is bought back for our pleasure and for His glory. It is re-created and re-fashioned – not because God needs this, but because we do. Revelation 21 says, “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).

That’s a subject of Biblical proportions. And apparently generosity only looks small when we are looking at it through a highly restricted lens.

So, how can you unleash this God-sized subject in your church?

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The above article was originally published at http://www.generouschurch.com/

10 Simple Ways to Become a More Generous Person

[pullquote_left]“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” — John Bunyan[/pullquote_left]

There are very few people who don’t like the idea of generosity. We are indeed a species that loves to help others and confront needs when we see them. Unfortunately, there are also very few people who are content with the level of generosity in their lives. Most people I know wish they were able to give more. And while there are a number of reasons that this may be the case… sometimes the best solution may be the simplest.

To that end, there are a number of simple steps that we can take to make generosity more intentional in our lives. If you have never given away any money or time, this would be a great way to get started (no matter what your current economic situation is). On the other hand, if you are just hoping to raise the level of generosity in your life, you will also find some of these simple steps to be relevant and helpful.

10 Simple Ways to Become a More Generous Person

1. Consider the benefits of generosity. Generous people report being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who don’t give. Generosity produces within us a sense that we are capable of making a difference in the world, that we are actively addressing the needs of those around us, and that we are shaping our community into a healthier one. While generosity is typically seen as the opposite of self-serving, counting the personal benefits is indeed one of the most important steps that we can take in getting started.

2. Embrace gratitude. Make a list of the things in your life for which you are grateful. Your list doesn’t have to be long. It won’t take much time. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a physical list (in your head will be completely sufficient). Sometimes, the most important step you can take to become more generous is to spend more time thinking about what you already possess and less time thinking about what you don’t. Once you start intentionally thinking that way, you may be surprised just how good you already have it… and become more apt to share your life with others.

3. Start really small. If you’ve never given away money, start by giving away $1. If you are embarrassed to give just $1, don’t be. You’ve got nothing to worry about: there are plenty of charities online that allow you to give with your credit card and you’ll never cross paths with the people who record your $1 donation. Of course, the point of this exercise is not to report a $1 tax deduction on your year-end tax return. The point is to get started. If you’ll feel more comfortable giving $5, $10, or $20, start there. But no matter what dollar amount you choose, jump right in with something small. You can afford it… and that little push can help build momentum in your life towards generosity.

4. Give first. When you receive your next paycheck, make your first expense an act of giving. Often times, we wait to see how much we have left over before we determine how much we can give away. The problem is that most of the time after we start spending, there is nothing left over. The habit of spending all of it is too deeply ingrained in our lives. To counteract that cycle, give first.

5. Divert one specific expense. For a set period of time (try 29 days), divert one specific expense to a charity of your choosing. You may choose to bring a lunch to work, ride your bike to work once/week, or give up Starbucks on Mondays (wait, make that Thursday). Calculate the money you’ll save and then redirect it to a specific charity/cause. Whatever you choose, I recommend picking something that would be fun to give up – something unique that you’ll remember. And setting a specific period of time for the experiment should make it completely achievable.

6. Fund a cause based on your passions. There are countless charities/causes that need your support. And some of them are directly in-line with your most compelling passions. What are you most passionate about? Is it the environment, poverty, or religion? Maybe it’s world peace, child nutrition, or animal rights? What about education, civil rights, or clean water? Identify what passions already move you, find a committed organization around that cause, and then joyfully help them in their work.

7. Find a person you believe in. If you find that you are more easily motivated and shaped by the people in your life rather than organizations/causes, use that tendency as motivation instead. Take careful notice of the people in your life that you most admire. What organizations/causes do they hold most dear? Who do they support? What makes them passionate about supporting it? And how can you get involved alongside them?

8. Spend time with people in need. One of the most effective antidotes for non-generosity is to make space in your life for those who actually need your help. After all, it is a very small step to go from knowing somebody in need to helping somebody in need. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to volunteer one meal at your local homeless shelter. Most homeless shelters readily accept volunteers and have systems in place to get you started. And rubbing shoulders with the poor just may change your impression of them forever.

9. Spend time with a generous person. One of the most life-changing conversations I’ve ever had about generosity occurred when I found the courage to start asking specific questions of the right person. I remember starting with, “Have you always been generous?” And immediately followed with more: “When did you become so generous? How did it start? How do you decide where your money goes? What advice would you give someone who wants to get started?” It was life-changing. And the other guy paid for the meal… go figure.

10. Live a more minimalist life. Intentionally decide to own less. Oh sure, living a minimalist life won’t automatically make you a more generous person, but it will provide the space necessary to make it possible. You’ll spend less money on things at the department store. You’ll have more time/energy to help others. And the intentionality that emerges in your life will help you discover the need for generosity. Minimalism has resulted in many positive changes in my life – becoming more generous has been one of the most important.

Generosity rarely happens by chance. Instead, it is an intentional decision that we make in our lives. But it does not need to be as difficult as many people think. Sometimes, starting with the simple steps is the best step that we can take.

What simple steps have you incorporated into your life to foster generosity?

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The full article was first published by Joshua Decker at http://www.becomingminimalist.com/10-simple-ways-to-become-a-more-generous-person/

How Much Would I Give Away If…

Let me ask you a provocative question, “How much would you give if you knew Jesus was coming back this time next year?” Please know that I don’t have any insider information by asking the question. But this question does open the door for us to honestly evaluate both our hearts and our motives regarding how we are living and giving. What if we could somehow know without a doubt that Jesus was indeed coming back in one more year? Would your level of giving change? This thought-provoking question ought to cause all of us to soberly pause and reflect on our answer. If our answer is, “Yes,” the amount of my giving would be higher; it might be good to ask yourself, “Why?” Why would the amount I would be willing to give over this next year be greater if I knew Jesus was coming back next year instead of twenty years or a hundred years from now?

I have identified three specific motivations for why I think all our giving would go up and most likely go up a lot! Let’s consider these three motivations.

Motivation #1: “It’s Only a Year”

If there was only one year left before His return, we might be much more willing to make meaningful, personal sacrifices since we now know that it would be only one short year before this world as we know it would come to an end? I think we would all agree that twelve months is a pretty modest amount of time to do without if we knew for sure it would only be for one year.

I know when I work out, I am able to endure much greater physical “torture” because I know that my workout is only going to last for one hour and then I can go back to my non-demanding, sedentary lifestyle. I am willing to incur a good bit of short-term pain to hopefully enjoy a good bit of long-term gain.

If you are like me, you are probably far more willing to give something up for Lent (short term) than you are to give it up for life (long term). But what if you knew this life as we now know is only going to last for twelve more months? Would your willingness to part with even “essential” material possessions increase if there was only one year left to do without?

Ask yourself: “Would my giving increase over this next year if I knew with absolute certainty that Jesus was coming back and then the really good times were going to begin?”

Motivation #2: “I’ve Got Nothing to Lose”

Would our giving to the Lord increase because with only one year left, as the old hymn says, “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace?” As the new heavens and the new earth get closer, the grip this current world has on us would likely be loosened and its appeal and attractiveness would be greatly diminished.

Think about the value of a confederate dollar in 1861 (when the Civil War began) compared to the value of that very same dollar in March of 1865 (a month before the war ended), we would all agree that a confederate dollar after the confederacy fell was going to be worthless to whoever held it. So, if a person were to give away all their Confederate dollars just before the end of the confederacy, I think we would all agree, that person was not really making much of a sacrifice. Likewise, as the return of Christ continues to move closer, the “things of earth” will continue to grow more and more worthless because in that new day that is coming, nothing of our material possessions will be considered anything of value.

It is this fact that makes the picture of the streets in heaven being paved with gold so humorous. We take gold that is universally valued here on earth and in heaven God uses it for street pavement. The fact is that what the world values here is worthless there. And conversely, what the world considers worthless here is actually priceless there. Most of us don’t have any trouble giving away what we consider to be worthless – junk.

Ask yourself: “Would my giving increase if I knew what I was giving away was in a very short time going to be worthless?”

Motivation #3: “It’s a Good Deal”

I wonder if we might gladly substantially increase our giving if we realized that “investing” our resources in Kingdom initiatives just makes good financial sense. We could reason that doing so would enable us to enjoy not only a spectacular internal rate of return, but also a spectacular eternal rate of return in just one short year. Then, as we are ushered into the new heavens and the new earth, we will be rewarded handsomely for our sacrificial giving and our “brilliant timing.”

Randy Alcorn reminds of us of the obvious, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” If we knew beyond a doubt that “ahead” would be only one year away (not decades or centuries), might we view the temporary postponement of our current enjoyment of and security in our material stuff a small trade off for the eternal gain that would very shortly be ours.

We have all read Matthew 6:20, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”Jesus commands us to do this “for yourselves.” By knowing the time horizon for actually having our treasures returned to us makes “investing” in the Kingdom for ourselves all the more compelling. I think the appeal of a fantastic and guaranteed return on investment for almost all of us might be just too great to ignore.

Ask yourself: “Would my giving go up if I knew I was going to personally receive back a spectacular return on my Kingdom giving in just one year?

Isn’t it interesting how something changes in how we value our lives and our possessions when we use a shorter timeline? The world and our relationship to all our stuff are viewed quite differently. Life’s real priorities quickly surface out of the clutter of our over-busy lives. Every single area of our lives will be quickly reshuffled and our life priorities reordered when the timeline is shortened. And what could be most unsettling about this list of newly identified life priorities is that they seldom include what currently consumes much of our daily lives.

In life, the tyranny of the urgent is constantly seeking to override the priority of the important. We seem to routinely make time for and overvalue what is really quite trivial and unimportant – often because we mistakenly believe that there will always be time for getting to the “big stuff” later. But, what if there was no “later”? What if there was only twelve months left?

If we only had one more year for Kingdom impact; only one more year to get the message that God has entrusted to us, His stewards, out; only one more year to give to make it happen; would we be living and giving differently than we are right now? I think so. And it might be a very valuable spiritual, mental and emotional exercise to take some time to recalibrate and realign our priorities to focus on an eternal mission and not just a temporal one. Shorten your timeline and watch how it sharpens your focus.

We all need to plan like we are going to live forever and live like there is no tomorrow. If we choose to start living by this mantra, we will find some truly amazing changes in our lives starting to occur. Changes that may resemble a lot like how Jesus lived when He was here.

Obviously, no one knows if Jesus is going to actually come back next year. But I think we will all agree that regardless of when He actually does finally return, within the context of eternity, He will be coming back as the old gospel song says, “soon and very soon.” Are you ready to step up and start living and start giving like you really believe it?

Download PDF:  How Much Would you Give Away . . .

© 2012 Stewardship Ministries | All Rights Reserved.

E. G. “Jay” Link is the President of Stewardship Ministriesa teaching, training, mentoring and content ministry working with churches and nonprofit leaders to equip them with the biblical knowledge and training resources needed to serve all ages and all economic levels of believers to effectively live their lives as good and faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to them. He is the author of three books, “Spiritual Thoughts on Material Things: Thirty Days of Food for Thought,” “To Whom Much is Given: Navigating the Ten Life Dilemmas Affluent Christians Face” and “Family Wealth Counseling: Getting to the Heart of the Matter.”

Mr. Link may be reached via email at jlink@stewardshipministries.org

Fiscal Cliff Notes: Highlights For Gift Planners

Fiscal Cliff Notes

Here are the highlights for gift planners:

Highest marginal income tax rates for single taxpayers making over $400,000 or married filing jointly taxpayers making over $450,000 moves to 39.6%.

Impact On Planned Givers: To the extent that the greater tax savings from taking a deduction against a higher rate means an increased incentive to give, there’s a little more incentive here for these high income donors.

Capital gains and qualified dividend rates for taxpayers with incomes over $400,000 single of $450,000 married filing jointly moves from 15% to 20%.

Impact On Planned Givers: Higher tax rates for capital gains may mean gifts of appreciated property will be more attractive to donors as a way to avoid this tax.

Returns of the 3% “Deduction Reduction.” This law reduces itemized deductions by 3% for every dollar a taxpayer’s income exceeds $250,000 single or $300,000 married filing jointly. The law was introduced during the Clinton administration, but was phased out during the Bush years.

Impact On Planned Givers: This provision sounds bad, but hasn’t been shown over the years to be a significant drag on charitable giving. One way to think about this is to say that

it’s the state taxes or mortgage interest deduction that is affected by any 3% reduction, not additional charitable gifts.

The charitable IRA rollover was extended for 2012 and 2013

Impact on Planned Givers: From a marketing standpoint, the message to eligible people who waited was they can give in January 2013 and count it towards 2012 and then also give again anytime in 2013 and count it towards 2013. There are more complicated rules for donors who drew on IRA assets to make gifts in 2012 that we will flesh out in future blogs and analyses.

The gift estate tax exemption was kept substantially the same ($5 million, $10 million for married couples) as under 2012 law, with the top bracket moving up modestly from 35% to 40%.

Impact On Planned Givers: With higher exemptions (that will continue to be adjusted for inflation)

there are precious

few people with “estate tax problems,” although these are the precious few gift planners spend a lot of time cultivating. The higher top rate for taxable transfers and the possibility of transfer tax repeal no longer on the horizon make lead trust gifts look better.

The Healthcare surtax on investment income moves in at http://www.cialispharmaciefr24.com/achat-cialis-france-24/ 3% for taxpayers with incomes over $200,000 single or $250,000 married filing jointly.

Impact On Planned Givers: This new tax is a tadalafil maroc minor

incentive for donors to make gifts of appreciated property.

The social security payroll tax goes back to 6.2% from 4.2% for all taxpayers and for high income taxpayers the .9% Medicare tax kicks in.

Impact on Planned Givers: It’s important to remind donors

that these taxes are unaffected by charitable contributions.

Finally, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) thresholds increases and will keep up with inflation.

Impact on Planned Givers: Many fewer taxpayers will be in the situation where their deductions are limited by the AMT so that additional charitable gifts create no additional tax savings.

Celebrate Generosity In Memphis 2013

The Hope Foundation is proud to announce our annual luncheon with a focus on generosity in Memphis.

Celebrate Generosity In Memphis 2013
Tuesday, March 5th, 11:30 – 1 p.m.
Holiday Inn Ballroom, University of Memphis Campus [map]

Last year’s event welcomed Shane Stanford from Christ Methodist Church as our keynote speaker to inspire over 400 of Memphis’s most generous givers and influencers. On Tuesday, March 5th we welcome Barrett Jones from Germantown, TN. Barrett is a Christian and happens to be the starting center for the 12-1 University of Alabama football team. Barrett’s young story is continuing to unfold through his excellent work on the football field and beyond.

A preview of Barrett’s testimony can be seen below:

This will be a great event to celebrate how God is moving through generosity. Memphis is unique in national giving statistics and Hope is proud to highlight stories from our donors and others involved

with Hope in Memphis.

Celebrate Generosity In Memphis 2013
Tuesday, March 5th, 11:30 – 1 p.m.
Holiday Inn Ballroom, University of Memphis Campus

Non-Profit Spotlight: Memphis New Leaders

Memphis New Leaders
Transforming public education through outstanding leadership

Every day Memphis New Leaders inspire teachers, motivate students, engage parents, and involve the community as they seek “to ensure high academic achievement for all children,

especially students in poverty and students of color.”  Memphis New Leaders serve as principals and assistant principals in Memphis’s most challenging, impoverished schools.  The work is both a professional and personal calling, because they believe every child deserves a chance to succeed.

These highly skilled, dedicated, and compassionate educators seek to turn around our city’s under-performing schools and transform the lives of the students who attend them.  Participants make a solid, six-year commitment to serve our community upon entering the New Leaders program.

New Leaders’ work is grounded on clear evidence that effective principals are fundamental to school improvement and student achievement, and the belief that all children, regardless of circumstance, can achieve academic success. Demography is not destiny for children in New Leaders-led schools.

This school year, over 45,000 Memphis area students will be directly impacted by a New Leader’s leadership in Memphis City Schools (39); Shelby County Schools (1); Achievement School District (5); Charter Schools (8); as well as in other educational leadership roles (22).  Since 2004 when New Leaders began serving the children of Memphis, New Leader-led schools https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/viagra-en-france/ have consistently outperformed other Memphis City Schools academically.

New Leaders is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that receives public and private financial support individuals, foundations, corporations, and government.  In this time of school transition, New Leaders is seeking to broaden its base of supporters, and respectfully asks that you become involved with New Leaders’ mission.

We invite you to see the difference first-hand by taking part in a Leadership Matters Tour in a New Leader-led school.  To participate, simply call Liz Conway at 901-881-5119.

New Leaders works because it’s founded on the premise that leadership matters. We know that it matters in business and in government.  So of course, it matters in schools.  We know that a great teacher can change a classroom.  But you need great leaders if https://www.acheterviagrafr24.com/viagra-ordonnance/ you want to change whole schools and transform an entire city. If you care about Memphis, about our

kids and our future, I can’t think of a better, more high-impact investment than New Leaders.”

Barbara Hyde
President, Hyde Family Foundations
Advisory Board Chair, Memphis New Leaders
National Board Member, New Leaders

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[The above article was published in the 2012 Fall Hope Newsletter and was submitted by Memphis New Leaders Senior Manager of Development Liz Conway]

Ministry Spotlight: Memphis Teen Challenge Expands

Brother Cameron came to Memphis Teen Challenge broken and homeless. Crack cocaine had taken everything from him. His family had disowned him and his friends had abandoned him. Cameron came to Teen Challenge in need of a change. While in their residential program, Cameron rededicated his life to Christ at one of the ministry services. A missionary came and spoke at a chapel service and Cameron felt a call to the mission field. Over the course of the year-long program, God did a tremendous work and Cameron graduated, free from addiction. Executive Director Jonathan Lindberg talked to Cameron just last month. “He is now in the middle of his second year of Bible College, studying for a degree in world missions. He is living free from addiction, serving the Lord wholeheartedly and he is filled with hope for his future!”

That is the power of change that only Christ can give.

Over the past forty years, Memphis Teen Challenge viagra sans ordonnance (33 North Cleveland) has served as a leading faith-based solution to the drug problem. Thousands of men (ages 18+) have come to Teen Challenge and experienced a life changed through an encounter with the grace of God. Teen  Challenge believes change happens from the inside out. This Christ-centered approach to addiction has led to an 85% national success rate among all Teen Challenge graduates after five years.

There is hope for those caught in the web of addiction. Christ is the answer!

In 2013, Memphis Teen Challenge will be expanding their campus with a new ministry building. This new ministry building will allow Teen Challenge 15 more beds (raising the total capacity to 45 beds) as well as re-entry apartments for graduates. Each bed at Memphis Teen Challenge represents a life broken and in need of restoration. It also represents a family torn apart by drugs and alcohol or children and mothers who have been abandoned because of addiction. Their prayer is that God uses this new ministry building to make a greater impact in the Memphis community and a lasting impact on lives in eternity.

For more information or to help get involved with Memphis Teen Challenge, email Executive Director Jonathan Lindberg tcmdirector@aol.com or call 901.272.2308.



above article was published in the 2012 Fall Hope Newsletter and was submitted by Memphis Teen Challenge Executive Director Jonathan Lindberg]

When Helping Hurts Seminar

Please join us on Saturday, October 27th for a Helping Without Hurting Seminar! This seminar is based on the paradigm-shifting book When Helping Hurts and will be presented by co-author of the book Dr. Brian Fikkert. This seminar is hosted by the Hope Foundation and Second Presbyterian Church – Mission Memphis.

Register: http://www.chalmers.org/work/hwh-schedule
Location: Fellowship Hall at Second Presbyterian Church, 4055 Poplar Avenue [google map]

What to Expect
Engage with the core principles of When Helping Hurts along with its author. The morning session of the day gives an overview of the core ideas of the book and the afternoon viagra sans ordonnance sessions dig deeper into practical steps for helping the poor whether ministering in North America or the Majority World. Reconsider how you help the poor and be encouraged in how your church or ministry can practically move forward in empowering those whom you help.

Who Should Attend

  • Pastors, elders, and deacons
  • Church ministry leaders and volunteers: mercy ministry, benevolence committee leaders, food pantry volunteers
  • Missions committee members
  • Missionaries and short-term missions teams
  • Relief and development agency staff
  • Christian donors thinking strategically about their generosity toward agencies helping the poor internationally and locally

Learn More: View a 3 minute video about the seminar by Brian and his co-author, Steve Corbett.

For more information please visit the Helping Without Hurting Seminar webpage.

We hope to see you at Second Pres on Saturday, October 27th.