TC ERT Jan 2013 Vol 37 No 1


Now available
Paternoster Periodicals, c/- AlphaGraphics, 6 Angel Row, Nottingham NG1 6HL, UK

Theme: Contagious Generosity


  • Editorial: Contagious Generosity
  • What Is Generosity? by Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard
  • Contagious Generosity– towards creating a culture of giving as a life-style by Sas Conradie
  • Generosity from a Pauline Perspective by Kar Yong Lim
  • Responsible Generosity by Daniel Hillion
  • In the Service of One God only: financial integrity in Christian leadership by R. Scott Rodin
  • Generosity: Befriending at the Margins, Re-centring Human Dignity by HealthServe Team
  • The Urgency to Develop Fundraising Capacity and Generosity within the Latin American Missionary Movement by Nydia R. Garcia-Schmidt
  • Selected Generosity Resource
  • Reviews

Editorial - Contagious Generosity

Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard say in their new book Contagious Generosity(Zondervan: 2012) that generous living may be the most compelling and effective evangelism strategy. This understanding of Christian generosity is not new. The whole Bible is a depiction of the generous God who blesses people with resources so that they can bless others with those resources. The Bible is also clear about the right relationship with and use of money which is one of the most important aspects of generosity – the way we use our finances to bless and serve others.

Throughout the centuries Christians have understood biblical generosity in this way. Their generosity and compassion became a channel for showing God's generosity to people in spiritual, physical and emotional need. As Tom and Christine Sine say in their book Living on Purpose, 'a decisive movement from a self-interested life to one that was extended in compassion to their neighbours near and far' (Baker, 2002: 22) was at the centre of the life faith of early Christians and a witness to those around them.

Since the 1970s there had been a greater interest in the themes of stewardship, generosity, giving and philanthropy. In a globalised world, scholars such as Ron Sider, Tom Sine, Jonathan Bonk and Vinay Samuel have written on different issues around poverty, wealth, income inequality, compassion and a Christian approach to money. Ministries such as Crown Financial Ministries, Christian Community Foundations and Generous Giving were started to facilitate thinking and engagement around generosity related issues.

There have been a number of different reasons for this growing interest in generosity. The baby-boomer generation and wealth of this generation have been seen as one catalyst for this increased interest in generosity and the development of generosity focused ministries. The need for missionary and ministry financial support resulted in another dimension of Christian generosity thinking and engagement – the professionalization of 'Christian fundraising' or 'resource mobilization' since the 1980s. Many ministries and churches now employ full time fundraisers or even teams of full time fundraisers. Western financial giving however had an adverse affect with many churches in the Global South remaining dependent on Western support.

With these different perspectives on generosity, those of us involved in the generosity field are very grateful to the editors of the Evangelical Review of Theology for this special generosity issue of the publication. I hope that the articles will contribute to further scholarly reflection and engagement in generosity as study area.

We commence with the introductory chapter of Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard's newly released book Contagious Generosity: Creating a culture of generosity in your church. In this chapter the authors explain how generosity should be understood and how it should be applied specifically in the local church setting. My review article follows, in which I emphasise how generous living has to become visible in all aspects of life and not only monetary giving.

Next, looking to Scripture for guidance, Rev Dr Kar Yong Lim reflects on generosity from a Pauline perspective drawing some insights from the Corinthian letters. He argues that Paul's understanding of generosity in remembering the poor is not only the heart of Paul's message but is rooted in the story of Jesus.

Daniel Hillion follows on by linking generosity to Christian ethics and a response to God's grace. He argues for Christian generosity 'exercised in a responsible and realistic manner, not some utopia wherein we ourselves build the Kingdom of God on earth'. How many Christian leaders have a theology of money? R. Scott Rodin calls for such a view in his article on financial integrity in Christian leadership. It is easy to talk about generosity in theoretical terms, but our next article by the HealthServe team in Singapore in Singapore, describes how generosity becomes practical reality when Christians share their time and material resources with those in need in their communities.

For help on understanding Christian fundraising within the broader subject of generosity, we listen to Nydia Garcia-Schmidt from the Global South. Her article on fundraising within the Latin American missionary movement is based on a study on how mission agencies in that area approach fundraising. One of her recommendations is that theological institutions and missionary training centres in Latin America should provide more training in the biblical foundations of fundraising and training. It is our hope that this recommendation will be taken seriously!

The book reviews and selected bibliography on generosity resources will provide further stimulus and assistance in understanding generosity and teaching of about it our churches and theological institutions.

I am writing this editorial just after the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Generosity became one of the buzz words during the Games. With the scriptural foundation of God's generosity, generous living should be natural for Christians. Just think about the impact if Christians across the globe would live out biblical generosity in all aspects of their lives. We might discover that generosity is indeed the new evangelism!

Dr Sas Conradie, Guest Editor
Coordinator Lausanne/World Evangelical Alliance Global Generosity Network

Thomas Schirrmacher, General Editor
David Parker, Executive Editor