Most churches I encounter are very one sided in terms of their strategy involving the resources/money it takes in to do ministry in their church. What I mean by this statement is that they have a Finance Team or something of the like, but that team in most every case is primarily, if not exclusively, focused on the management and distribution resources/money. What about the influx of resources/money? You know… giving and generosity?
I’ve started leading a workshop that focuses on this aspect. At the beginning of the workshop, I sometimes will ask, “What is your church’s strategy in the area of generosity and giving?” In the course of the workshop, this question is a rhetorical one. However, when coaching or working with a church, I will ask the same question but this time expecting an answer. Here are some of the answers I get:
“Our people understand their responsibility to give and so they just give.”
“I, (the pastor/minister), preach a giving series every year.”
“We emphasize this to everyone when we have our business meetings.”
“We have giving envelopes in the chairs to promote that people should give.”
“We post the giving in our bulletin/newsletter and that helps people to know they should give.”
“We don’t have a strategy.”
When you look at the entire context of ministry in your church, you probably have a Children’s ministry, Youth ministry, Small Groups ministry, Prayer ministry, Missions ministry, etc. As I mentioned above, you probably have a Finance Team, but did you already catch the difference there in the name? Each of the previous things I mentioned ended in “ministry”, but the Finance area has a “Team”. I want to show you 4 easy things you can implement over the next 30-days to intentionally grow the people of your church spiritually in the area of giving and generosity.
1. Find a Champion of Generosity
Just like you found someone or even a team of people to manage the finances of the church, find someone or even a small team of people that will champion generosity in your church. How do I find this person and/or these people?
When I’m coaching churches in this area, I first see if they have a process by which they learn the spiritual gifts of their people. If assessing spiritual gifts is something you do, then the most obvious place to look first is anyone who has the spiritual gift of giving/generosity. The reality is that typically this isn’t a popular gift. Many people misunderstand what th gift of giving really means and they either avoid it or there is a false/positive on someone who is identified with this gift. Use discernment with these folks and take the time to have a conversation about their giftedness in this area and what they understand it to mean. Ask them how their gift of giving is being made manifest in their life.
Now, if you find yourself with no one who has the gift of giving/generosity OR you don’t currently have a process by which you determine someone’s spiritual gifts, then let’s look for people who are merciful and/or good at pastoral care. Once you get a list of these folks, then compare that against your giving records for the church and how many of these folks are strong givers. If you have a policy where you don’t look at the giving records of the people in your church, you can give the list to whomever is over this area and explain to them what you’re looking for. Have them submit the list back to you of the people who are strong givers.
Too often, in the areas of the church that involve money, churches only look for a business person or financial person. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that someone who is good with business or financial management wouldn’t be a good Champion of Generosity. What I am saying is that someone who serves in this role needs to have a heart to meet people where they are and see everyone grow in the area of giving/generosity.
2. Hunt for Giving Stories
The more I do this work, the more I continually see the power of a story in the lives of others. I was having coffee with one of the pastors I work with and he was telling me that he had just hired someone to come on staff with their church and one of the components of his title was “Storyteller”. Stories penetrate and speak to people in a deeper way than most any other form of communication. You need to find the stories in your church of the people who are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ in the area of giving and generosity. So how do I find these stories?
One of the greatest indicators I have found to identify people who might have a great giving story is a simple calculation in your giving records. Ask the person who is over the giving records to run a monthly report for you where they calculate the percentage(%) increase/decrease for the givers in your church month to month. What I would suggest is that the report only has names with the percentage(%) increase/decrease. This report is a great tool to identify someone who is potentially growing in their giving. What is even more powerful about this strategy is that the level of their giving doesn’t come into play, because this measures emerging givers by percentage(%). If someone has increased their giving by 25%, 50% or more, then that is someone you need to talk to and find out their story. Assuming it is compelling, let's get this story on video. Assuming that you have put #1 above in place, you can send your Champion of Generosity to talk with them.
Another great way to find stories is through your small groups ministry. Maybe once a quarter have your small group leaders ask their group if anyone knows of a great giving story or story of generosity either they themselves experienced or know about someone else in the church. As the small group leaders report back, then go and ask those people about their stories. Again, this task is something that would be good for your Champion of Generosity.
The next two things are core best practices of generosity that we promote at Generis.
3. Start Sending First Time Giver Notes
The first time someone gives to your church is a huge step in connecting with your church. They are declaring themselves, not only in terms their relationship with your church, but in the level of trust they have in your church. In other words, this is a big moment and should be identified in a special way.
Every week have the person that is over the giving in your church submit the name and address of anyone who was a first time giver that week. Then handwrite a card that simply says thank you. Here’s an example:
Chris & Susy,
The folks who keep the records of giving for our church notified me that you gave for the first time this weekend. I don’t monitor giving so I don’t know the amount you gave, but I did want express a heartfelt, “Thank You!” I’m excited that you would honor God and our church with your generosity. We’re excited to have you in our church and have you be a part of our church family.
This could be a handwritten note card that the pastor/minister sends. This could be a note that the Champion of Generosity sends. In either case, it makes the giver feel noticed and valued.
4. Start Having a Generosity Moment in Worship
Our CEO, Jim Sheppard, talks about the advantage the church has over most any other non-profit organization. As a church, you get to talk to your constituency 52-weeks each year. Do you have any idea how many organizations wish they could talk to their donors every week? If any other organization could do so, they would capitalize on that opportunity in a big way to cast vision and show their donors the difference-making work their contributions were bringing to reality.
Now consider the fact that churches have this immense advantage and most every church squanders that opportunity. I coach the churches I work with to have a 30-90 second Generosity Moment before the offering every Sunday. It is an incredible time to say thank you, cast vision, tell stories and communicate truth to their congregation in complete alignment with their giving and generosity. And the reason it is so important is because it strikes to the fundamental reason why someone gives to whatever their giving to… they want to know it is making a difference in the lives of others.
If you CLICK HERE it will take you to an eBook that you can download absolutely free from my profile page on the Generis website. In order to get the eBook it will ask you for some information but don’t worry, it will simply feed back to me because I directed you through my profile page. This eBook speaks in even more detail about "The Offering Moment" and why it is so important. Part of what you will learn in this book are the 7 Elements that can make up an "Offering Moment".
Theological Truth from God’s Perspective
Theological Truth from the Giver’s Perspective
Connecting the Gift to Vision
I hope you will find these ideas helpful in creating and/or advancing an intentional strategy to disciple and grow your church in the area of giving and generosity. At Generis, we say if churches and organizations do nothing they will end up in the "Default Position," which is right where you may find yourself now. Giving and generosity will not just happen on its own, especially considering the culture we live in today and how that culture views money and the church. Implement these ideas and when God honors it and good things start to happen, I would only ask that you send me an email and tell me that great story about your church so I can share it with others.
I submit these blogs, articles and ideas to you to add value to the work you’re doing in your local church or organization. If you would like to talk about this or other ideas to grow you culture of generosity, please email me. Please keep me in mind if you’re looking for coaching or a consultant in the area of giving, doing a generosity initiative or a capital campaign. If you don’t already, I would also really appreciate if you would follow me on Twitter at @cstovall16 or on my Generis Facebook page.