A Fresh Start in Generosity

January 7, 2013

Happy New Year! I know for most of you there is little time to rest over the holidays, the church schedule stops for no one! But I do hope you were able to find some time to reflect, and be reenergized for the coming year. 

Maybe you’ve decided that it’s time to focus on the generosity of your people. Is your budget continually staying the same each year? Are your meetings getting testy over which ministry to cut back on to make things work? Are you tired of making the same announcement each December that we need X number of dollars to finish even for the year? If so then now is the time to plan how the culture of generosity can be cultivated in our churches. 

When I do a generosity diagnosis for a church, the first area I pay attention to is staff/leadership. As Jim Sheppard and Chris Willard put it in their book Contagious Generosity, “Generous churches are led by generous pastors. Period.” Have you as a pastor had a true “conversion” to a lifestyle of generosity? If not then there is no reason to expect that the people you lead have had one themselves. 

However if you have, are you expecting the same lifestyle from those on your paid staff or lay leadership? For instance, would you appoint someone to be an elder, board member, deacon (or choose your leadership model) who has no history of giving to the church? 

Instead, let it be known among your staff and leaders that all are expected to give, and not only that, but each is expected to make a commitment to grow in their generosity. I know of a pastor who has taken this step in his church, only to find out that two of his staff members have neglected to follow the pledge to give to the church. The next step is to follow up with each of them to discuss why, and if there is any way the pastor can help them along the journey. Hopefully you won’t have to make any tough decisions beyond that, but understand that others on your leadership team know what’s going on as well. 

Once it is made abundantly clear that the leaders of the church are committed to such a lifestyle, then and only then can the message be spread to the church. 

Maybe in the future instead of the difficult financial questions, you will be asking, “What do we do with the money that has been given over our budget. What new ministry can we begin or what ministry can we breath new life into with these extra funds.” Or perhaps the best result, you can say to your people, “Thank you church for giving so generously this year. Because you’ve given so much we can now do (X,Y,Z).”

So as you pray about your vision for 2013, ask God how he would have you lead in the area of generosity. That journey just may begin with you and your leaders.

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