I walked into my home office and found an envelope lying on the keyboard of my laptop computer. On the front of the envelope it simply said, “For God’s churches.”
Just a few weeks prior, after serving as Senior Pastor of RiverTree Christian Church for twenty-five years, I announced that I would be transitioning into a new role as President of Stadia global church planting. Stadia plants churches that intentionally care for children. With new church planting remaining the single most effective way of reaching people who are far away from Jesus and with 85% of those who make a decision to follow Jesus doing so between the ages of four and fourteen–transitioning to Stadia was a crystal clear call of God on my life.
Over the years, RiverTree had become a very generous church. A church that cares for children. A church that cares deeply for those who are far away from God. A church that reflects the heart of Jesus.
As I transitioned from RiverTree to Stadia, the Elders of RiverTree wanted to honor my 25 years of service with a departing gift. A new truck? Family vacation? Golf clubs? Believe me, all of these things were very enticing. In the end, I did ask for a gift. I asked for RiverTree to plant a church in Colombia in partnership with Stadia and Compassion International. A church that would reach people who are far away from Jesus. A church that would intentionally care for children. Why? Because generosity matters.
But this is not my story. Not really. It’s actually my daughter, Tabitha’s, story. Fifteen-year-old Tabitha is the one who put the envelope on my computer keyboard. Tabitha is the one who wrote the words, “For God’s churches,” on the front of the envelope. Tabitha is the one who filled the envelope with every dollar she had saved: $196. Why would a freshman in high school give every cent she had to plant new churches in Colombia? Because she had learned that generosity matters.
As I sat at my desk and my eyes filled with tears in response to my daughter’s generosity, several thoughts ran through my mind. “Oh Tabitha, I am so proud of you. Tabitha, you have invested in something that is so close to your father’s heart. Tabitha, because you have been faithful, I as your father, cannot wait to entrust you with more. Because of your generosity I will do everything I possibly can to give you every good thing that you desire.” Why? Because generosity inspires generosity.
It’s the generous heart of God . . . that’s what God does.
God is looking for individuals, churches, organizations, families and businesses to whom He can entrust His resources. He is looking for you. And He is watching to see what you will do with what He has entrusted to you. And when you are generous He will entrust you with more. When you give to others, He is anxious to give back to you. When you invest in things that are close to your Father’s heart, He smiles down upon you and absolutely cannot wait to give you every good thing. Why? Because God is a generous God and He honors generous people.
In the end, RiverTree gave $160,000 as my farewell gift. Enough to plant two new churches that now care for more than 400 children in South America. And I am so thankful. But the gift that matters most to me is the one that God placed in my own home; Tabitha. The gift that Tabitha gave. The gift that revealed Tabitha’s heart. The gift that made me as her father want to give her so much more. That’s the gift that matters most to me. Why? Because generosity matters.
Our God is a generous God. And we, as His followers, must be a generous people.
This post was written by Greg Nettle, President of STADIA. Greg is the co-author of three books: One Of and Disciples Who Make Disciples, and the newly released Small Matters, co-authored with Compassion International President Jimmy Mellado.