Yesterday, we were blessed to have some friends over for lunch and some Settlers of Canaan. We had an awesome time, and couldn’t have asked for a more delightful Sunday.
During this time I was able to discover that “Lucas” was studying Micro-Economics at Cal-Tech in Pasadena. He seemed pretty excited about completing his last major project of his degree, which was a Study on Giving and Human Behavior. He had conducted various types of research concerning the motives of giving and the end result of giving. It was a very intriguing dialogue that led us into a much deserved Lunch that included Mozzarella Covered BBQ Pulled Beef on top of Artisan Bread, and an awesome salad that included fresh tomatoes from the garden of “Lucas’” soon to be Mother in Law.
During the conversation I was able to look upon some behaviors that made me think about my giving, and the church that gives. I know, I know, another pastor talking about giving or the lack thereof, right? You are absolutely correct! But in this post, I am going to highlight the behaviors of secular giving as outlined in this research paper.
Throughout the conversation, “Lucas” and I were able to come to a conclusion that altruistically speaking, the “warm-glow” effect is very common when it comes to giving to a good cause. People in general, feel good about giving, they enjoy giving, and when they see the need met, they feel sufficient. That feeling when you give a couple dollars to a transient, or help out the Salvation Army feels good to the soul, and ultimately washes our hands concerning our Social Duty. If people are so stoked about giving, why don’t they give more? Why are people so reluctant to contribute more to charity, churches, or the guy on Warner & Newland who cant seem to find a job in the last 4 months?
During his research, “Lucas” concluded that “People are more persuaded to give when others are giving…”. They love to be a part of the corporate solution, instead of being the individual that has to give more to meet the greater need. In addition to that, people love to give when there is a legitimate need being met. That is to say that more people are inclined to give more when needs rooted in entitlement are absent. When true needs are being met by people with the same vision, the giver is satisfied and expects nothing but a “thank you” in return. However, when the vision is complex, and the giver is not in agreement with the end result, resources are hard to justify by the giver. When the vision is clear, more people can understand it, more people give more, and the expectation level takes a back seat to the results that are clearly evident to all.
Does “Lucas’” point apply to the church? As Bible-Believing Christians, do we give to be satisfied or feel a sense of sufficiency? Do we give because we have an abundance of resources and want to feel “cheerful”? Do we contribute to our society at all? Do we expect something without giving anything? Do we rely on other people to meet the greater need? Are we encouraged to give more when other people give? Do we need to see financial statements(results) in order to boost our confidence to give? These are the types of questions that secular contributors answered during the study.
For us Christians, our giving should be in response to a God who gave His Son to die in our place(John 3:16, Hebrews 12:2). Our giving should be based upon the factual evidence that our God provides in time of need. When we give in response to the character of God and forget about the return on investment, not only are we obedient to God, but we co-labor with God in meeting the greater need. Our response to His gift(s), which are unrepented of(Romans 11:29), not only meet a practical need (ie worship leader, media coordinator, events planner, etc.) but they aid in the financial structure of the church. Because He is the great Giver(1 Corinthians 15:45), we are privileged to give back in response to His Love, without an expectation of experiencing the “warm-glow effect”. This is how the Christian Community is distinguished from the world(1 John 3:1), instead of being another statistic in the study of Normative Giving.
All in all, it was such an educating conversation, and I am very excited for my dear friend “Lucas” and his endeavor to communicate a new perspective for the giver/contributor as well as to the receiver/beneficiary.