By: Alex Cook
Generous Churches don’t happen by accident. A generous Church is borne out of proper planning and a work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of a Church’s members.
Below I explore the building blocks of a generous Church. Doing just one thing is unlikely to make your Church generous. It is doing a number of smart things well, and asking God to work in the hearts of your members. Let’s consider the core blocks:
1) Intentional. Just talking about generosity once a year or even occasionally wont bring about any meaningful change. A Church must see financial stewardship as a ministry in itself. That is deliberate plans are made to promote, celebrate and replicate generosity throughout the year, across ministries in multiple ways. Whilst it should be seen as separate ministry in it’s own right, it should not operate in a silo. It should be infused through other ministries.
2) Measurement. As they say ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ which is a useful business saying. Perhaps a better one for Churches is ‘you measure what you value’. If generosity is something you say your Church values, then measuring it is essential. Start by tracking ‘giving per capita’. That way you know where you’ve been, where you are today and where you are hoping to go.
3) Leadership. Are the leaders generous? Is it known or obvious to the members that the leaders don’t just talk about generosity, but in fact live it. Furthermore the Senior Pastor must be the champion of generosity. If not, it simply won’t work.
4) Stewardship Education. In a typical western nation these days, roughly 50% of the population are living month-to-month, and huge numbers are drowning in debt. They couldn’t be generous even if they wanted to. Over time, through a process of providing them with biblical money management courses, you can help many of your members to break free from the shackles of debt, to save and live a generous life.
5) Culture – Culture is a complex thing, but in its simplest sense it says ‘this is the way we do things around here’. It sends a message both to insiders and outsiders as to what a Church is about, even if it is largely unconscious. A truly generous Church is contagious. When people see true generosity, they want to be part of it. So ask yourself, is our culture pushing people towards Christ-centered generosity or towards the world’s selfishness.
6) Systems & Processes – for a Church to function effectively it needs good systems and processes. What systems should you build? Both the ‘personal’ and the ‘important’. You don’t want to leave important things to chance. You need a thank you system, a stewardship system, an assimilation system amongst others. Build generosity into each system.
7) Communication – You must be crystal clear on what message you want your members to hear about money and generosity. What is the 2 or 3 key messages you want your members to hear about money? Here are some thoughts:
– All their money belongs to God (Psalm 24:1)
– They are called to be a steward of the resources God has given them to advance his kingdom not their own
– We will all give an account for how we’ve used what God has given us.
8) Vision & Planning – There is a saying ‘Money follows Vision”. Mature Christians want to give generously. However they want to know what the expected outcome will be. A compelling vision gives your members a clear picture of where the Church is going and what the impact of their generosity is likely to be.
9) Regular Teaching – Most of us need to hear something repeated regularly before it sinks in. The same with money management. Roughly 15% of Jesus’ teaching was in relation to money, 11 of the 39 parables and nearly 2300 verses on money, wealth and possessions, so there is ample material for Church leaders to use for teaching.
If you would like to discuss the specific circumstances of your Church then we’d be happy to give you a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss how you can implement the building blocks.