Their eyebrows go up every time I talk about it.
“Am I allowed to do that?”“I don’t see how I could make that happen.”“Is it worth it?”
A few years ago I had the great privilege to host two California friends for a Portland workshop called Multiply PDX. Chris Lagerlof and John Blue were scheming with us about what might happen in our city if we created a collaborative effort to further saturate the Portland Metro Area with the Gospel. We filled our tiny room with interested leaders ready to give it a go. And then Chris and John dropped a bomb.
“You should be tithing your time to the city.”
10% of my time. NOT spent on my own ministry?
Apparently this is not a new idea. Chris and John had seen it working wonders across the country in their work with Christ Together, a nationwide network of catalytic leaders bent on bringing Gospel saturation to cities everywhere. It was working in Buffalo, New York, Houston, Seattle, Kansas City, Orange County…and it would work in our city.
Over the past few years I’ve been testing this concept. Could I give away 10% of my time — time that would not directly benefit my own ministry — and survive? Better yet, could I do this while experiencing growth in my own ministry AND seeing the needle move outside my ministry?
The answer is yes. I’ve been blown away at what God has done both inside and outside my church as we’ve given time away. Let’s talk about the Why, How, What and When of getting started…
At first glance your might think the primary reason for this shift a redistribution of assets. A coop of time, talent and treasure. And that is a really good result of tithing your time to the city, but it’s not the primary reason. The primary reason is unity. When we cross denominational and organizational lines to lay down our obsession with our individual kingdoms in preference of God’s Unified Kingdom, He is glorified and lives are changed. Nothing demonstrates unity and points people to Jesus like the sharing of our resources. And that includes our time. It’s what Jesus prayed for in John 17, it’s what the first church lived out in Acts 2, and it’s what our cities need today.
10% of a 40-hour work week is a half-day every week. As a leader in any ministry, church or organization this can be a tremendous shift – specially if you don’t have the authority to give away those work hours. In that case you may need to “volunteer” this time from your non-work schedule. But even if you do have the ability to control your schedule, that doesn’t mean your schedule is under control. You will have to fight for this time. Here are a few practical tips for getting started…
- Get permission. Talk to your spouse, your boss, and those who will be directly impacted by this shift. Tell them why you want to do it and ask for their support.
- Block it out. Put this on your calendar each week and go to work making this time count.
- Keep it consistent. I mostly use Fridays. By that point in my week I’m done with most of my core responsibilities and I can focus on things outside my own ministry. Do what works for you.
- Use it strategically. Consider connecting with other leaders as a first step. Often just meeting someone else, hearing their story and finding common ground will open up a word of new opportunities.
- Bring your team with you. Once the ball gets rolling you can drive this DNA throughout your organization by bringing someone with you along the way.
What do you do with that half day? Here are a few suggestions…
- Networking meetings
- Encouragement coffees or lunches
- Planning & strategy for city impact
- Community Support (i.e. local public school serving opportunities)
- Equipping events for likeminded leaders
Tithing your time to the city is one way to ensure that your church, ministry or organization doesn’t become inwardly focused and lose its mission. These are just some initial ideas, and many have gone before us to pave the way. I’d love to hear from you and learn how you may be exploring this same concept. Feel free to reach out, comment & share.