Getting Over the FEAR of Water Hazards

I was fortunate enough to attend the US Open last week at Pinehurst, just a couple of hours from my home. I enjoy seeing the best in the world play golf, and in fact this is the third major championship I’ve attended with only the PGA Championship left on my list. 

I’ve also always been a pretty good golfer, and at my best I could play in the mid 70’s pretty consistently. I’m far from being as good as the professionals, but as good as they are on the PGA Tour, there are hundreds if not thousands of golfers who have the physical talent to be successful, but haven’t mastered the mental game. 

I noticed when I was at Pinehurst that the pro’s have a different approach to the game. While they understand the obstacles on a given hole…the water, sand, trees, rough, etc…instead the focus for each player is on exactly where the ball should go. If the ball does go into a hazard, they don’t let it affect their approach to the next shot. That’s a huge difference from an amateur who is hoping the ball doesn’t find a hazard and somehow ends up in a good spot. If the ball does find a hazard for us amateurs, we’re often scared to hit the next shot in fear that it will happen again. 

While out walking the course by myself I was able to think about how some of my church partners focus on what’s next in their ministry. Some church leaders see the obstacles ahead and are aware of them, but they are focused on what God is calling them to do, and the impact their church can make if they take bold steps. However many churches I speak with are worried about landing in a hazard, and are not willing to take the chances that will move their ministry to the next level. 

So where are you? Worried about who might get upset, what might go wrong, or waiting for God to just do it so you don’t have to make the effort? Or are you taking everything into consideration, while still following through on what you’ve been called to accomplish? 

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Through my conversations with pastors, I can usually tell early on if a pastor gets it or not when it comes to generosity. If so, we can dive in quickly and plan a strategy that will grow the generous spirit of his church. If not, it will be a struggle, and in some cases we don’t even get far enough to talk about partnering. So in that light, here are a five reasons why a generosity focus will not work for your church. 

 
1. If you’re afraid to talk about finances the way the Bible does, a generosity focus is not for you. 
 
2. If you’re worried about someone getting upset about the generosity conversation, a generosity focus is not for you. 
 
3. If you don’t think discipling your members in the area of finances is important, a generosity focus is not for you. 
 
4. If you don’t have a vision for what you would do with the money if giving did increase, a generosity focus is not for you. 
 
5. If you as a pastor or staff member don’t give generously, a generosity focus is not for you. 
 
However, if you are willing to show what God’s word says about giving…if you are willing to defend your reasons for talking about money…if you are passionate about discipling your members in their finances..if you have a vision for what the increased money would fund…and if you get IT, and give generously….then and only then could a generosity focus be just what your church needs to take the next step forward. And if all those things are the case, you motivate me to do what I do, thank you! 

The Olympics are always an exciting time, and Americans apparently love watching if the ratings are any indication. I don’t understand all of the events, but no matter what sport it is obvious that intense training has been done to get the athlete ready for what could be a few seconds of an event that have at least been four years in the making, more for most. 

 
A few of my clients are also coming down to an extremely important day in the next few months, one for which they have waited decades. Call it what you will….committment day, pledge day, faith promise day, etc. Like an Olympic athlete, can your church just show up on that day and expect a great outcome without some preparation?
 
We know what an Olympic athlete goes through leading up to the games. The coach would probably start with the basics of the skills needed, the fundamentals. Because without a good base there’s no need for the more complex details. There also will likely be some intense training times followed by times of rest. There might be some pain included and even an injury that needs to be healed. All of that will help shape the athlete to be ready for competition. 
 
So what does that preparation look like in a church? It would also likely start with the basics, maybe as long as four years out! What does the Bible say about giving? How do those who have more experience with generosity give? How can I find room in my family’s budget to give? We have to lay the foundation for people before moving on to more complex subjects. 
 
And yes this might be painful for some. Whenever people are challenged to grow in any fashion, there will be some hurt feelings. But this can’t be an excuse not to engage at this level. 
 
So if you’re a pastor or church leader who has vision and can see what might be coming years ahead, how are you preparing your people? It may be time for a vision strategy session to help others understand what the goal will be down the road. It could be time for a generosity audit to see what the strengths and weaknesses of the church are in order to build a good foundation. But rest assured that if you are intentional about it now, your people will be prepared once the big day arrives.  

1. Stop saying this is only for members

I often do Generosity Audits as do many of my Generis teammates, and one of the first questions I’ll ask pastors is do they think that the offering time is a time of worship. They all say yes. But yet we tell visitors that they shouldn’t feel compelled to give. Do you tell them that they shouldn’t sing during the service? Or to feel free to tune out the pastor during the message? Of course not! I’m not saying you should tell them that they should give, but you should let them decide. It could be a time that a person makes a critical decision to invest in the Kingdom.
 

2. Stop doing announcements

 
Back to the worship part…Yes it’s a time of worship but we’d like to take this time to remind you that the deacons will be meeting tonight and that the Wednesday night dinner will be spaghetti this week. Really? Leave some room for people hearts to be moved. Maybe not complete silence, but there should be something going on that reminds people what the offering time is all about. A giving testimony, a story of something amazing happening because of generosity, or sometimes simple music. Which leads to the next point…

 
3. Stop doing the same thing
 

I’ve done a blog post on this before, but it’s a simple guideline. Change it up! If you do the same thing every week, you will engage the same people. You don’t sing the same songs each week (at least I hope not), the pastor doesn’t give the same message each week(see parentheses above), so charge your worship leader to spend a few minutes each week planning this time just like he or she would the rest of the service.

 

So Pastor, what will you do this week to make your offering time better?