overflowing-cup           One of the most corrosive lines of thinking in the Church has been a “theology of scarcity.”  This idea states that there are never enough resources to do what we are called to do; that we cannot do what is needed because we don’t have enough…money, time, people, room, etc., etc.

A theology of scarcity implies that God has led us to this point, but left us here to fend for ourselves; that God calls us, but does not equip us to do the task or provide for us what is needed for the task; that we believe in God, but not that God has given us what is necessary to do the work God has called us to do.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

Still, we have bought into the lie that we don’t have enough to do the work of the church, and that belief has become our excuse for not risking, not taking action, not living out who we say we are, and doing the same thing over and over in hopes that one of these times things will change.  A theology of scarcity has become an excuse for holding onto the status quo with a vice-like grip.  We can hear this theology in statements that are tainted with “my way” thinking; in statements that pine for how things were “when I was growing up”; and remarks that reflect the seven deadly words of the church: “We’ve never done it that way before.”  A theology of scarcity is what I call “me-opic” thinking – thinking that cannot/does not see beyond the end of our own noses, our own preferences.

A scarcity theology slowly erodes the mission of a church when it is not confronted and called out, allowing the church to falter in its mission.  Too often, those who uphold such thinking hold the church hostage if they are ignored.  Scarcity theology kills dreams and plans; it sometimes embitters those who work for the betterment of the church and its ministry; it refuses to put itself in the place of those who are not a part of the Church, looking only to itself as the measuring rod of what is best for all;  it stalls and stagnates both numerical and spiritual growth because no one wants to board a sinking ship or a ship that is going nowhere; and it plants the seed that God works only  in certain ways (read: “my way”).

Not only is this theology corrosive, it is not fitting with scripture.  The God who created the earth and all that is in it, provided all in abundance (Genesis 1 & 2).  The God who led God’s people out of Egypt, led them back to a place of abundance (a land flowing with milk and honey).  And the God who offered the world a way back into a right relationship with God, provided that very way in the most abundant gesture possible:  through the death of God’s own son, Jesus.

What would happen if the church began in earnest to think, speak, act, and serve through a theology of abundance, rather than a theology of scarcity?

Might the church begin to believe that we serve a God who “is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8)?

Might the church begin to speak in such ways that express its faith that God will provide all we need to do the work we’ve been given, even when all the voices around us say it can’t be done?

Might the church begin to act in faith that God’s abundance is always at hand and ready to be tapped into so that the world may be hear the Good News?

Might the church begin taking the risk of thinking about and serving others first, and thereby serve Jesus himself?

If the church is ever going to reach its community and the world, one of the greatest hurdles it must quickly overcome is thinking too small.  We must take the risk of dreaming big.   The God who has called us and to Whom we have responded in faith is not a God of too little.  No, our God is a God of abundance who provides more than enough to do what God has called us to do (Ephesians 3:20-21).