How Do You Create a Culture of Generosity? | Generosity InnovationLab
Giving tends to be a sensitive subject among a lot of churches. Always has been. And the recent economic downturn has created greater hesitancy among many church leaders when it comes to talking about money from the pulpit. But Kingdom work doesn’t happen for free. It takes dollars and sense to create the opportunity for impact. And while we all agree that God is the ultimate Source of our provision, He often accomplishes this through the pocketbooks and debit cards of the people in the pews. So how do you balance sensitivity to the economic climate in which we live with the clear call to live generously?
It all begins by developing a culture of generosity within your church.
This week I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate the second Generosity InnovationLab hosted by Leadership Network. Seven teams from around the country (including Alaska!) have come together for a 12-month journey of developing a culture of generosity in their churches. Chris Willard, Director of Development at Leadership Network, and Jim Sheppard, CEO of Generis, have partnered together to direct this group. Chris and Jim also co-authored a soon-to-be-released book Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church. Following this two-day gathering in Dallas, there will be an online meeting in 6 months, followed by final two-day gathering in Dallas.
There has been great discussion and learning over the past two days. Some of the key issues that have been raised include:
- “Culture Is Key” – Generosity cannot be a silo. It must be a thread that runs throughout the whole church.
- “Follow Me” – Generous churches are led by generous pastors who model it through transparency and openness.
- Measure what Matters – Leaders need specific, measurable data on giving in their churches. This includes the giving activity of high-capacity givers (a group church leaders are often intimidated by).
- High Capacity Givers Need to Be Discipled (just like everyone else) – The only people group Jesus mentioned that have a unique obstacle regarding entrance into the Kingdom is the wealthy.
- Connect Giving to Impact – People need to hear often, “Because you gave…” Celebrate the good things that happen in the lives of others because your members gave.
- Don’t count Millennials Out – Millennials will give, they just typically won’t write checks or give cash. What online giving opportunities are you creating?
One of the most challenging ideas raised this week relates to knowledge about giving records. Many church leaders, and most church members, feel that what members are giving is a private matter. But the point was made that giving is a matter of the heart. It’s a “master” issue. Either you will serve God or money. And as leaders work to help their members live more Christ-centered lives, how can generosity (or a lack thereof) be ignored? Few things represent Godliness in the life of a believer more than a generous lifestyle.
So what about you? What are you doing to cultivate a culture of generosity in your church? How are you helping people to grow into a generous lifestyle? What are your challenges?