Thriving in Generosity

I constantly marvel at those who are generous beyond expectations. They live with such freedom and joy. I used to think that their joy was because they already had money/wealth/blessing. But I have since discovered that money does not bring this freedom. No doubt, it is good to have money left over at the end of the month. However, the gap between more and enough never closes. So what brings this freedom and joy?

A heart and mind that is compelled by God’s grace to be generous finds freedom and joy.

Churches are no different.

When churches (more specifically, church leadership) live with a generosity mindset instead of a scarcity mindset, it becomes contagious. The paradox remains true that you gain by giving.

When I was eight years old, I was standing by my mom and dad after a morning worship service. Our pastor approached us in the foyer and began to chat with us and then proposed a question: “Glen, our worship services are packed and we are preparing to launch a third worship service at 8am…” STOP. Did I mention that I was 8? My mind immediately begins to consider ways to interrupt this outcome – I like sleeping in a bit later on Sunday mornings. How can I defend my self here?

Too late… because my dad interrupted Pastor Dave, but not with self-defense: “We’re in. You can count on us.” In that moment, I got it. My dad displayed sacrificial generosity; inconvenience for our family so that more people could hear the message of Jesus Christ was no inconvenience at all. We could gain by giving of ourselves.

Jesus answered them, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

How can your church experience the paradox of giving?

In my work at Generis, I coach churches through shaping a culture of biblical generosity. As I have worked with churches of varying size, background, culture, context, and demographics, there are consistent threads that reveal themselves within churches that are abundantly funded and thriving.

One thread that is always found in a church that is abundantly funded and thriving is a leadership circle that guides through the change. Learning together. Growing together. Giving together. Thriving together.

The process of influencing senior church leadership through change brings many challenges. The voice of default church position keeps calling… do not answer that phone call anymore.

Take the appropriate time to guide other leaders through the process that is required. Consider this: when someone else walks into the room and offers all the solutions you never knew you needed, your reaction will likely be more negative than positive. In the same way, help your leadership team work through the process of acknowledging the problem before you offer all the solutions they never knew they needed.

Use experimental language when introducing culture change. “Could we try this for a period of time and evaluate after we have implemented these changes?” “What would it look like if we…?” The value is a culture of biblical generosity. The methods will vary.

Then, develop a new scoreboard on how you measure biblical generosity. Instead of “Budget Needed YTD”, what if you mentioned how many “First Time Givers” you had in the last 90 days? Someone who takes that initial step in generosity toward your church has made a significant spiritual decision. Do not mention those by name, unless the individual volunteers to tell their story. If you use financial discipleship material (i.e. Financial Peace University), how many completed the course? How much debt are they eliminating? Work with your leadership team to develop a generosity scoreboard that indicates people movement – celebrate the giver!

Begin with staff and leadership board – discuss biblical principles of giving, stewardship, and money. This will help normalize the generosity conversation within the overall framework of discipleship. Include teaching on generosity in small group materials and membership classes.

Remember these three motivators for a Christ follower to give to your church:

  1. “Wow! My church has a critical mission to accomplish in this world. I love the impact my church is making.”
  2. “Giving is part of my growth as a Christ follower. Resourcing the local church – my local church does something for my soul that happens no where else.”
  3. “I’m equipped to give. I understand how to grow in my own generosity journey. And I know the ways in which I can give to my church.”

Church Leadership Self-Assessment:
[  ] Is your tendency to fallback to your own way of thinking or do you allow outside ideas to help you process & implement best practices?
[  ] What is currently on the generosity scoreboard at your church?
[  ] If you developed a new generosity scoreboard with different metrics, what would that look like?
[  ] How would you define a win based on that new scoreboard?

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