Summer Allen: Stinginess or Sharing

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Summer Allen: Stinginess or Sharing

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

“Wealth is often associated with power. A study comprising five laboratory experiments found that when people were put in situations where they felt powerful, they spent more money on themselves than on others. The converse was also true: When participants felt powerless, they spent more money on others. This result occurred despite the fact that both people made to feel more powerful and those made to feel more powerless felt happier when they gave to others.

In their discussion, the researchers offered an interesting theory connecting these findings: Poor and/or less powerful people might be more willing to accept their life circumstances if they believe that wealthier and/or more powerful people are less happy, and this could drive them to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on others. The result would be a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts, as increased giving likely would lead poorer people to be happier than stingier wealthy people.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

If we start today by reading the words of the Apostle Paul to the rich, it must be noted that he employs the strongest possible language.

The rich are commanded to enjoy and share God’s material blessings in order to take hold of life.

Then when we move to the research we see why. Holding on to wealth leads us to feel powerful which results in stinginess instead of sharing.

Again, the research demonstrates that Paul (echoing Jesus) is not try to rob us, but rather, help us.

The only way to grasp the life God designed for us here on earth is to enjoy and share the spiritual and material blessings from God.

I praise the LORD that this message is resonating with the groups I am engaging in Cayman Islands.

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Summer Allen: Equality and Inequality

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

“A recent study found that higher income people were only less generous under real or perceived conditions of high economic inequality. In this study, higher income people from states with high inequality were less generous in a lab experiment than lower income people, but the opposite was seen in people from states with low inequality. Another part of this study found that people did not need to actually have lived in a state with high inequality to experience this effect; when higher income people were told they lived in a state with high income inequality, they gave less, even when the inequality was a fabrication. The researchers posit that this effect might be because inequality leads people to feel a greater sense of entitlement and deservingness that can lead to stinginess.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

I have arrived safely in Cayman Islands (pictured above). It was gorgeous when I landed. The cruise ship in the blue water below provides a glimpse into the dynamics that impact generosity in this cultural setting.

Locals regularly interact with wealthy tourists (think: inequality). As a result, they are suspect of many outsiders. John informed me that coming here was important to build relationships.

And I find it interesting how the research links to the situation where God has me. Let me explain. Because national workers often lack training needed for roles (think: inequality), if foreigners come in they can only stay a maximum of 9 years and then they need to leave.

This policy exists for many reasons. One relates to the fact that a feeling of inequality exists. This timeframe gives locals an opportunity to learn missing skills and not depend on outsiders long-term. Sadly, the inequality fosters “entitlement and deservingness that can lead to stinginess.” Inequality stifles generosity.

Notice that Paul focuses on equality. In echoing the account of collecting manna, everything was shared so everyone had enough. Now neither Paul nor I am calling for forced sharing, like communism or socialism, or saying that a person cannot take a vacation to a tropic island.

But I am saying that God’s people must value people over possessions by choosing aiming at generosity that brings equality. Our giving should help build up local workers with an aim at equality to dispel the inequality mindset, otherwise “entitlement and deservingness that can lead to stinginess” will overtake the setting.

Let us remember, Jesus set aside the riches of heaven and made Himself nothing so that we could have a share in life everlasting! Pray for fruitful meetings today in Cayman Islands with some of the most influential Christian workers in the country. Thanks.

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Summer Allen: Proportion

Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you. Deuteronomy 16:17

“In terms of charitable monetary giving, many studies have shown that wealthier people give more money in absolute terms than non-wealthy people do, although some evidence suggests that individual giving among the wealthy is highly variable: Some people are exceptionally generous, elevating the overall average level of generosity.

When it comes to whether poorer or wealthier people are more likely to give to charity, the story becomes murkier. Some studies have found that the probability of giving does not vary by income level, while others find that people with higher incomes are more likely to donate.

Similar research discrepancies exist when it comes to who gives more to charity as a proportion of their income, with several studies reporting a U-shaped curve, meaning the very poorest and very wealthiest give the most as a proportion of their income; other studies have found that the poorest households gave the most as a proportion of their income, to both religious and secular causes.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

While Scriptures like today’s text encourage proportionate giving (as we are blessed, we get to bless others) the giving numbers don’t always reflect this trend. Studies seem to show that the wealthy and the poor, by percentage, give the most, while people in the middle give a lower percentage of their total.

Rather than point fingers, let’s each aim to enjoy and share God’s material and spiritual blessings in proportion to His provision to us.

There’s a town in Jamaica called “Constant Spring” named after a spring that flows abundantly. I did not get to see or visit it, but the name sticks with me. We give proportionately, because we serve a God who supplies as an constant spring.

I never recommend reckless giving or sharing that fosters dependency. But I have learned that the Scriptures invitation to give proportionately gives life, brings joy, and blesses others richly.

God worked beyond imagination in Jamaica. A working group from our big event (pictured above) has formed to activate a peer accountability group (like ECFA in USA). Stay tuned for more when we finish the trip report. Early this morning we fly from Jamaica to Cayman Islands.

Appreciate your prayers for favor there too. And we’ve only received a few gifts in response to our request for support of this trip. Please give proportionately to GTP here.

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Summer Allen: Disturb

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:42

“While communication between potential donors and recipients may be one way to increase generosity, that doesn’t mean people like it: One study found that people will often go out of their way to avoid being asked. Another study found that a charity doorknob flyer that informed people of when a future solicitation was to take place reduced the number of people who answered their doors by 9 to 25 percent and, if the flyer allowed people to check a Do Not Disturb box, it decreased giving by 28 to 42 percent.

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

This topic is serious. The 42 percent who say “do not disturb” reveal something that is downright disturbing to me about the condition of the hearts of these people.

When they had a debt of sin that they could not repay they asked God for help. But when someone needs a small amount, they not only don’t want to help they don’t want to be bothered.

There’s a parable about this called the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18:21-35. Merciless people reveal they neither understand forgiveness nor who owns them and the money they possess.

The reason this topic is so disturbing is the measure we extend to others will be extended to us. I quiver a the eternal implications. If we are merciless to others, should we anticipate mercy from God.

Next time someone asks you for money, be merciful. Give something in gratitude for all you received from Christ. To support GTP efforts to empower workers in Jamaica and Cayman Islands, click here.

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Summer Allen: Stigmatized Persons

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:9-10

“Research suggests that participants anticipate feeling more emotional exhaustion when helping a stigmatized person, but that proactively framing this person’s situation as “inspiring and rewarding” can counteract this effect. This suggests that organizations that help traditionally stigmatized populations may be able to elicit more generosity from a wider group of people by carefully framing their solicitations in a positive light, helping people to overcome their fear of emotional exhaustion and fostering a sense of connection with the person in need.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

This research hit home, especially because of where I find myself, namely, the Caribbean. When I told many people that I was traveling to Jamaica and Cayman Islands, before hearing about the important program work, they said, “You are going there for vacation, right?”

By this illustration, I hope you see that the Jamaicans and Cayman Islanders are stigmatized persons, and thus, forgotten. I have learned that the social rule for Jamaicans is to treat foreigners nicely and to frame their country as a vacation destination and simultaneously, they take advantage of each other.

I am here because Jamaicans asked for help. Pastors and ministry workers have said that because society is broken down, so are churches and ministries. Like the Macedonian man, we find them not sitting and saying, “Come do it for us.” But rather, standing and pleading, “Come over and help us.”

After two full days of speaking at conferences and preaching aimed to serve God’s workers and raise awareness for our program work, God timed it perfectly that Sunday night was a huge Christian rally in downtown Kingston (pictured above): “Jamaica Pray!”

John Roomes (GTP Regional Facilitator for the Caribbean) and I attended and met many influential people. John numbered among the church and ministry workers on the stage lifting up and receiving the prayers of the people. We prayed Psalm 2 together and asked God for Jamaica.

This morning (Monday) we have a huge breakfast with the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches (JUGC) that includes all denominations in the country. Pray they support the vision of having standards with peer accountability in Jamaica as a model for the Caribbean region.

And after hearing all this, if you are willing to abandon the stigmatism that I am in Jamaica and help support the work with the people here, we set up an option on the GTP giving portal. Click here to give as you are able. And we need your help with the Cayman Islands efforts too.

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Summer Allen: Unit asking

“How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.” Mark 6:38

“Based on the findings from another study, another approach to counteracting our tendency to be less generous to multiple victims is to take advantage of “unit asking.” Unit asking requests that donors indicate a hypothetical amount that they would give to help a single needy person before deciding how much they will donate to a group of needy people. In this study, unit asking significantly increased the amount of money that people were willing to give to both online and paper-based fundraisers.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

Today I am preaching in Kingston, Jamaica, on “The Power of Generosity: Change Your Mindset and Change the World” from Mark 6:30-44. The core message comes to us from Jesus. In the face of great need, Jesus wants us to see what we have and put it to work. He can use it to bless many people.

What do you have? Where did it come from?  How might you use it to bless Jamaica?

After today’s training pastors, ministry administrators, and young volunteers checked out with these words: empowered, uplifted, inspired, edified, and encouraged. And this is only the beginning! John Roomes and I speak to multiple groups Sunday and Monday and the big national event is Tuesday.

What do you have in earthly accounts? Can you deploy it today?

Imagine the eternal impact of making a gift of $6,000 to GTP today. Click here to give to “Jamaica and Cayman Islands Program Work. Your support will activate a peer accountability group in Jamaica (like ECFA in USA) to grow trust, local giving, and foster sustainable ministry here and across the Caribbean.

Giving to GTP has been slow in July-August-September. Pray with me for provision for this important work. And see what you have, and give today. Thanks.

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Summer Allen: One

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

“Research also suggests that people are more generous to individuals than to groups. In one study, people were most likely to donate money for a sick child’s medical care when presented with the child’s name, age, and photo rather than just an age or an age and a name.

However, another experiment in this study found that people donated more money to a single sick child than to a group of eight sick children, even when the children in the group had the same amount of identification (name, age, and photo) as the individual child.

One study suggests that this reduction of generosity toward groups is because people find the needs of larger groups to be emotion- ally overwhelming—so-called “compassion fatigue.” According to the study, however, “this effect can be counteracted by preemptively and explicitly instructing people to feel their emotions rather than dampen them.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

I arrived safely to Jamaica. Torrential rains in Kingston caused flooding (pictured above) so our logistics work took hours instead of minutes to set up four days of meetings. But, thankfully, we are ready.

John Roomes, GTP Regional Facilitator for the Caribbean, who lives here in Kingston, has done a fantastic job convening the Evangelical Alliance and the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches.

I never noticed the word “one” in this famous Scripture. I guess my mind always reads it as “whatever you did for…the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.”

The research makes sense that we realize we cannot help all the lost or the least, but in our minds, we reason that we can help one. I want to ask you to help one worker in Jamaica this week.

Based on travel, supplies, and meeting expenses including room rental and meals for hundreds of the top Christian workers in the country, I estimate the cost of helping one is about $90.

You can help that one ministry worker go from surviving to thriving and go from floundering to following standards. Click here to give $90 to empower one Jamaica ministry worker.

He is likely a great preacher who cares for the poor. But with a limited grasp of governance and administration, his church struggles. Lack of accountability has hindered generosity.

You can change that. We can do it together. Give $90 to GTP today.

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Summer Allen: Identifiable victim effect

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:10-13

“Several studies have found that people are more generous toward one specific, identifiable person than toward multiple or anonymous victims. This is called the “identifiable victim effect.”

In one study, people were more likely to give money to another participant who had lost money in the experiment if that person was identified by a number than when a participant was completely unidentified. Participants also donated more money to a family in need when they were told that the charity had already chosen which family would receive the money than when they were told that the charity would choose the family in the future.

Another study found that people who saw a photo of a starving girl and read a description of her gave more money to an anti-hunger charity than did people who read statistics about starvation in Africa. In fact, another experiment found that when statistics accompanied the girl’s photo and description, people gave less money than when the statistics were omitted — suggesting that not only do people give more to identifiable victims, learning statistical information about a problem actually suppresses generosity.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

I shot the header photo at Denver airport. When this posts I will be in Panama and connecting to Jamaica. This research inspires me to show pictures of the people I will serve there.

This also follows the example of Paul. He thanked the Philippians for their concern and for sending support for him. And I always wondered why the Scriptures so rarely mention amounts.

Perhaps it’s because that would suppress giving rather than unleash it. Back then, God wanted to see the Philippians give not according to Paul’s need but according to their ability.

The same is true now. So, the next time you see a person or hear of an opportunity to help, give not according to the statistics or the need but according to your ability.

And if you work for a church or charity, show pictures, share stories, and encourage people to give according to their ability to the things God cares about.

Thanks for your prayers for safe travel. And pray a blessing on my brother, David, today. He serves as president of Warner University in Florida and turns 60 today. Happy birthday David!

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Summer Allen: Prime people

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10

“In general, people are more generous and kinder toward people with whom they share some sort of affiliation — people who they see as members of their “ingroup.” In one experiment, participants were more likely to help an injured jogger who wore their favorite soccer team’s jersey than to help a fan of a rival team.

In another study, children as young as four to six years old gave more stickers to children who they were told shared their interests.

Fortunately, there is also evidence that whom we consider to be in our “ingroup” is not fixed in stone. Research has shown that we can prime people to experience feelings of relatedness and connection toward others who they may have otherwise seen as “outgroup” members — and thus become more generous toward them.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

I realize I referenced this Scripture three days ago, but I have returned to it today as it employs the “ingroup” and “outgroup” language. The Apostle Paul urged the Galatians to do good to all (including outsiders), especially the family of believers (which represents the insiders).

Is this showing favoritism or is might Paul have deeper objectives in view?

I think this text affirms the research. Allen reports that we can “prime people” to set aside the insider or outsider mindset and grow in generosity. I think that’s what Paul is doing with both the ingroup and the outgroup. He wants people to show love to brothers and sisters (insiders) as a witness to the watching world of how believers care for one another. But he also desires that they do good to all people (outsiders and insiders) to exhibit the opposite of favoritism and to show that God’s love is for everyone.

Take a few minutes with the Lord in a journal and list your ingroup and outgroup. How might you do good to both groups in your living, giving, serving, and loving?

And pray for me as I travel to Panama City, Panama on the night flight en route to do GTP program work in Kingston, Jamaica, arriving tomorrow. Thanks.

I have been invited to “prime people” to connect stewardship and standards and to show how they set up a peer accountability group like ECFA in USA to build trust and grow local generosity.

I need your help to do this. Please make a gift today to GTP. Click here to set up your monthly or one-time gift. Thanks.

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Summer Allen: Extraordinary

And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 2 Corinthians 8:5

“People are often most generous to the people they are closest to, such as their family members and friends, and are willing to sacrifice more for these people’s well-being than for lesser known individuals or strangers… It may also make us happier: Results from one study found that spending money on our closer social ties leads to more happiness than spending on weaker ties. However, not everyone looks at social distance the same way. People who were the most generous in a public goods game did not reveal as large a bias for those closest to them; neither did those who have donated a kidney to a stranger, so-called “extraordinary altruists.”

Summer Allen in “The Science of Generosity” White Paper produced by the Greater Good Science Center.

We expect people to be generous to family. And it makes sense that it makes us happier. But ost interesting today for me is the fact that “the most generous” were not biased toward family and friends.

They exhibit generosity to everyone.

The Macedonians give us a clue how to achieve such “extraordinary” generosity, which research shows expresses a willingness even to share a kidney. We give ourselves to the Lord first.

Father, we give ourselves to you afresh today. Help us exhibit extraordinary generosity to everyone. Amen!

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