FIVE AREAS TO ADDRESS WHEN TAKING THE AWKWARD OUT OF THE GIVING CONVERSATION
So, where do we start? There are five areas where I would recommend we start:
1. Regularly Teach Biblical Generosity
The senior leader must teach on generosity and stewardship on a regular basis. A series every now and then is helpful, but also consider other means. When generosity comes up in the text of a passage you are using to make another point, take time to cover the generosity point in the text.
Perhaps the single best way to teach regularly is through the offering moment. The few minutes before you receive the offering in service each week is a key time to teach on the importance of what is happening.
2. Model Generosity – In Your Own Life And In Others
Share examples of people who have seen transformation in their own lives when it comes to giving. For people who are not faithful givers, they don’t know what it looks like. They need examples and encouragement. Seeing the journey of someone else accomplishes both.
One thing I hear often when I bring this up is the idea that this is not a topic we are supposed to share about in public. They say, “don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.” Without going into a long explanation of the text, that is not a prohibition against sharing one’s giving story. If it were, Jesus would not have talked about letting your light shine before men that they might see your good works.
The key here is to be careful about the motive in sharing. Give credit to God for the increase in your heart’s capacity to give. That’s the real story here!
3. Celebrate Mission Advancement
Encourage your church by calling attention to victories in mission advancement due to giving. This is probably the most overlooked element of encouraging generosity.
Think of a time when you made a significant appeal to the people of your church and they rose up and met it. Did you celebrate it? I don’t mean patting yourselves on the back and congratulating each other, I mean giving thanks to God for the move of His Spirit among your people, and the response of obedience in His people.
If you haven’t been doing it, make sure you do it next time you ask and your people respond.
4. Make Generosity A Priority, A Mark Of Discipleship
Specifically identify giving and generosity as one of the marks of discipleship in your church.
Churches prioritize that which they have identified as important. Values get prioritized. Many times, the values a church establishes are connected to marks of discipleship. Prayer, service, leading, and Bible study are frequently on the list of things a church considers the marks of discipleship.
Did you notice which one is not in the list? Giving and generosity. Maybe church leaders just assume if you do the other things, you will be a generous giver. This is not a good strategy.
I have been around hundreds of churches as a consultant and I’ll just say that’s not my experience. It doesn’t just happen. It has to be specifically addressed. Making generosity one of the church’s marks of discipleship is a way to ensure that it happens.
5. Have A Generosity Champion At The Table With Your Lead Team
This is a voice to make sure generosity and giving are prioritized. This is probably the biggest single idea of the five mentioned here, and likely the one most leaders have not considered.
It is easy for giving and generosity to take a back seat to other priorities church leaders are addressing at any given time. This is understandable when something really pressing comes along, but it should be the exception, not the norm.
Generosity should be like a thread that is woven into the fabric of the church. Not siloed, but owned by every leader on the team.
A Generosity Champion, whether a staff member or a key lay person, will keep it on the table at all times.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
We have to solve this. The stakes are high on two fronts.
1. The People In Our Churches Are Spiritually Malnourished When It Comes To Money And Possessions.
When we talk about making disciples, we have to be committed to addressing all the areas of discipleship. Teaching in the area of money and possessions is the most neglected one. In a culture that is as materialistic as America, our understanding of money and possessions and how it fits into our faith perspective is critical.
Jesus was concerned about it two thousand years ago. He knew that money had the potential to be another god to us.
In Luke 16, he clearly pointed out that money has the potential to cause us to worship at that altar instead of the altar of Almighty God.
This is a powerful teaching and we tend to blow past it. It speaks to the need to provide spiritual nourishment in the area of money and possessions.
2. Our Churches Are Being Limited In The Pursuit Of Their God-Given Mission And Mandate By The Lack Of Sufficient Financial Resources.
In a country as affluent as America, there is no reason for our churches to have to limit their ministry because of financial resources. Yes, there are churches that are in economically challenged areas. But that is not the norm.
The best research we have indicates giving among believers is somewhere in the range of 2.5% of their income. Think about that. If believers in America gave just half a tithe (10% of their income), it would double the level of giving to churches. The impact of the ministry of the American church would be significantly expanded.
Only by growing givers’ hearts and loosening the grip on what God has provided will we make meaningful progress.
There’s too much at stake.
Let’s commit ourselves to removing the awkwardness and normalizing the giving conversation. For our people and for our churches.
Today’s post is written by Jim Sheppard. Jim is CEO & Principal of Generis, a consulting firm passionate about helping churches accelerate generosity towards their God-inspired vision.