Inspire Your Church to Give by Starting With Why

Leaders move fast. Leaders get stuff done. Leaders solve problems and point the way. But leaders also often talk about the solutions and new direction long before others else even realize a problem exists.

They start with the “what” and not the “why.”

I personally experienced this phenomenon while repairing a section of my backyard fence. As any father would do in the hopes of effectively leading his family, I told my two oldest sons that they would be helping me with the project. In every aspect of the job—from demolition of the broken fence to setting posts to nailing new fence slats—I found myself explaining the “what” of our process several times. “We need to do this first so that….” “This hole needs to be a few inches bigger in order to….” And as a result, very little of our work was inspiring.

I see the same experience play out in the local church.

Bill Hybles was right when he famously said of the local church: “When it is functioning well, it is the hope of the world.” The church can be truly inspiring to the world in which we live. Except I see many church leaders spending much of their energies talking about the what to their congregations: “we’re going to do this great new ministry…” and “you should consider joining a small group…” and our budget’s running low here.”

The “what” messages compel some to help “build the fence,” but don’t ultimately inspire the majority of the body to give of their time, talents, and treasures. And eventually, less and less people help working on the fence.

In his powerful TED Talk, Simon Sinek presents a simple model for how great leaders inspire action: Start With Why. The central motivation to jump into something new comes from a desire to know the reasons why something is the way that it is. Think of you “gut decisions.” Your instinctive motivation does not rely on properly formed rationale as much as it does on inspiration. Facts and figures rarely motivate people to change behavior.

And so can those who attend your church be inspired to give? Can giving be more than simply funding the machine of the local church? How can church leaders motivate people to change behavior and resource the mission of the local church?

The answer to these questions is to start with why, as in “why should I give to my church?” Below are two reasons we’ve discovered:

  1. Giving Is Good For Me

Several weeks ago, I was with a focus group at a local church in the Midwest, and we asked the question: “Why do you give?” And the answers we heard affirmed to me that giving really is good. Responses like, “I get to model generosity to my children” and “Selfishly, I know that God blesses me when I give” remind me that there is a benefit to giving; life can be experienced with an open hand instead of a clenched fist.

There is a complex and inseparable relationship between the human soul and money. Contrast the rich young ruler (Luke 18) and Zacchaeus (Luke 19). When confronted with his tight hold on money, the ruler became sad and turned away. When Zacchaeus met Jesus face to face and spent time with Him, he gave away half his money and vowed to repay anyone he had cheated four times the amount.

Giving, in many ways, is a response to the amazing grace of Jesus. And that grace changes the way the heart feels about money. Generosity releases the heart from the chains of greed.

  1. I Become Part of the Amazing Work at my Church

Giving allows people to move from the sidelines into the game. It leads people from applauding others to dirtying their hands in the work.

And churches can help inspire this transition in people’s live by regularly taking time to look back and celebrate more often. Why did that missions experience matter? What difference did that Saturday serve event make in the life of our community? By celebrating, saying thank you, and telling stories of sacrifice and life change, givers will be left with a sense of, “Wow! My church is doing something amazing. I can’t believe I can be part of this impact.”

The local church is not a backyard fence; it is the hope of the world. The local church matters. Your local church matters!

Tell that story and provide the answer to “why I should give to my church.”

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