By Art Rainer
Every year, your church goes through a sermon series on generosity. But every year, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Giving remains about the same as the prior year.
The church has the capacity to be more generous. You know this. Yet the desire just doesn’t seem to be there.
Many church leaders find themselves in this situation. It can lead to frustration and disappointment because you know generosity is a reflection of a person’s heart. And while you’re concerned about the church budget, you’re more concerned about your church members aligning with God’s design for them.
You want them to experience what it’s like to live with open hands, to be conduits through which God’s generosity flows to others. And you don’t want it to be momentary. You want to see your church consistently immersed in a culture of generosity.
How can you do this?
Here are six ways to build a culture of generosity in your church.
1. Teach about generosity more often. The Bible tells us the way we manage our resources reflects the priorities found in our hearts. To disciple others well, church leaders must teach on stewardship and money—and in more than a single sermon series.
The Bible has more than 2,000 verses on stewardship and money. Jesus spoke repeatedly about money throughout his ministry. If God consistently emphasizes stewardship and money, should not church leaders? Consider weaving teachings on generosity throughout the year, from the service to the small group.
2. Talk about the church’s mission, not the budget shortfall. Do you give time and money to a losing effort? Unfortunately, this is how many church members feel when they place their money in the offering plate.
They look at the bulletin and see a negative number in the budget area. When the pastor speaks on money, it’s often about how the church is financially struggling.
Mission motivates. People give to mission. God has called your church to do great things for His kingdom. He has called your church to make a difference in your community and around the world. Talk about that mission constantly.
3. Tell stories. Randy Alcorn wrote, “Giving is a giant lever positioned on the fulcrum of the world, allowing us to move mountains in the next world. Because we give, eternity will be different—for others and for us.” One person’s generosity can change another person’s life for eternity.
Regularly tell the people of your church how their generosity is making a difference in God’s kingdom. Create a system to collect stories of life change in your church.
This can be as simple as asking church leaders what God did in their ministry that week. Then, with permission, tell the stories to the church—so people can see their giving moves mountains.
4. Tell giver stories too. When people align their life and money with God’s design, they often find themselves on an adventure they never could have imagined.
There are countless stories of men and women who struggle with the idea of generosity but, in faith, obey God. In a totally unexpected way, God transforms their hearts and minds. They find themselves regretting only that they did not obey earlier.
Encourage your church by telling these stories. They may help people in your congregation take that next step in their Christian walk.
5. Discuss why your church can be trusted to manage money well. You don’t give to organizations whose financial management you don’t trust. Sometimes churchgoers hesitate to give to their local church because they simply don’t know whether they can trust its financial management.
Overcome these perceptions by discussing how the church’s stewardship can be trusted. Be transparent about how the church spends money. Explain how financial accountability works for the church.
If you get an external audit or are certified by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, tell them about it. This discussion can happen in new member classes or at some point during a service.
6. Make generosity about something bigger than money. Scripture reveals that generosity is not exclusively about money. We are to be generous with all the resources God has given us.
Teach about the need to be generous with finances—but also teach generosity with homes, hobbies, abilities, and networks. Show churchgoers how they can go through life with their hands open, ready to respond when God moves them to give.
God designed us to be conduits through which His generosity flows. What would happen if the people of your church aligned with God’s design for them and their money? What would happen if your church congregation had a generosity-first mindset? And what if it all starts with you?
Be a leader who lives generously and then guides the church to do the same. Create a culture of generosity in your church.
ART RAINER (@ArtRainer) is the author of The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money. He is the vice president for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University and an MBA from the University of Kentucky.