Summary: If a church is going to grow as God has commanded us to, by making disciples, the people must give to support the ministry of the church.
In Exodus 35 & 36, we read about the construction of the Tabernacle. The details of that construction are laid out in these two chapters.
It is conservatively estimated that the Tabernacle would cost approximately ten million dollars if it were constructed in the US today. The construction of the tabernacle required some generous giving on the part of God’s people.
Last time, we looked to 2 Corinthians 9, and focused on how growth in the discipline of giving results in our personal growth as believers. Today, I would like for us to consider what we are told in these chapters in Exodus about the giving that made the construction and ministry of the Tabernacle possible. I am convinced that just as the construction and ministry of the Tabernacle would not have been possible had it not been for the people’s willingness to grow in giving, growth in our church will not be possible without you and I being willing to grow in our practice of the discipline of giving.
What lessons can we learn from the building of the Tabernacle in Moses’ day that we can apply to the growth of our church today?
1. The need was God caused - 35:4-5a; 29
It was nothing but the leadership, will, and desire of God in behalf of his people that presented the need for the Tabernacle. He, who led His people out of slavery, gave them title right to the Promised Land, and miraculously opened up the Red Sea, now desired to have a place where He would meet with his people.
Thus, the need for the Tabernacle, which would be both a symbol of the presence of God in their midst and the place where man could meet God. The Tabernacle, priesthood, offerings, and system of worship were to present a glorious pre¬view and preparation for the coming of the Lamb of God, who would take away the sin of the world. The Tabernacle had to be to the last detail exactly what God commanded.
Just as God commanded the building of the tabernacle, He has commanded that His church grow through making disciples. Church growth is God’s idea.
“I will build my church” - Matthew 16:16 (NIV)
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
- Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
It is because of our Lord’s command to make disciples that our church does all it does by way of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. It is because of our Lord’s command to make disciples that we provide resources for Bible study, for teaching, for leadership training, for fellowship events, for music ministry, for prayer, for
outreach, and missions. It is because of our Lord’s command to make disciples that we provide ministry opportunities for adults, college students, youth, children and preschoolers.
How is all this made possible? It is made possible by all those who obey the instruction of God concerning giving to the support of his work through the life of this church!
According to one study of giving trends in the church, 16% of member households in the typical church give 80% of the budget receipts each year. 49% of member households give the other 20%, and 35% of member households give nothing.
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income.” - 1 Corinthians 16:2a (NIV)
Each of us should give to the support of our church’s ministry because the work of the church and the need for its support is God caused. It has been said that the votes that really count in a church are the votes that people cast with their feet and their dollars.
Since this is true, this means that to not give to support the work of my church is to vote to not see our church do the ministry necessary to make disciples. To not give is to vote for our church not to grow. To not give is to vote for our church not to survive. To not give is to disobey God.
2. The potential was God arranged - 11:2; 12:35-36
That which God called the people to give, He had already provided. Their obedience to God with respect to His provision made possible their obedience with respect to the project God had set before them.
You see, when we speak today of giving, we are talking about more than what you put in the envelope or in the offering plate. We are also talking about how we use all that God gives us. You see, God gives to us, not so we can give to ourselves, but so that we might give to others as we support his work through our church.