Generosity Starts at the Top

How do I keep our budget from turning inward?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

– Matthew 6:21

Jesus directed these words to the crowds at the Sermon on the Mount, but their truth is just as appropriate for your church today.

If you are concerned that your church is beginning to become more inward-focused, take a look at the finances: If more of your church’s funds are being used to keep the machinery of the church moving and to keep the members happy, rather than to fund the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, you have a big problem.

The inward focus of financial matters is symptomatic of a heart problem. When a church consistently directs resources and energy more toward its own needs than the need to reach their community and the world, decline toward death becomes a natural result.

If you are concerned that you are on the this path, start with YOU. Model generosity so it becomes a driving force in your church.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Leading a Generous Church, by Todd McMichen

What kind of help would people receive if the only training they were given on money came from the church? Leading a Generous Church: Making Disciples without Chasing Money takes your team through a step-by- step process to develop a generosity playbook that delivers unprecedented confidence and clarity.

Using the book of Proverbs as its foundation, the resulting playbook is an innovative tool that provides a fresh perspective on generosity – one that will truly grow passionately generous disciples.


Pastors always desire a generous culture, but very few know what it really is and are willing to do the work to experience it. They tend to default toward doing nothing (except complaining) or executing yet another quick fix, short-term remedy. While there are a few necessary ingredients for true generosity, the one absolute is that the senior pastor must model and lead the way.

If you want to lead a generous church, the senior leadership must become passionate about generosity.

Your heart must be overcome. Stewardship must be a driving force shaping your culture. Be mindful that a generous culture produces many results beyond a surplus of finances. It helps with volunteerism, impact in society, personal faith, and a more positive disposition. I have never met an unhappy, over-stressed, or weary obedient servant. Who doesn’t want these positive characteristics to permeate church culture?

Often when churches pursue generosity, they pursue more money. The pursuit of money is not the same as producing a generous disciple. Money can be gained quickly, but the strategy can contain unintended negative results. If the ill-gotten gain is money, the proper gain must be a transformed disciple. And that transformed disciple may need to begin with you.

– Todd McMichen, Leading a Generous Church


Anchor generosity within your existing set of core values by crafting 2-3 ”demonstrated by” statements for each, showing how stewardship is lived out in the culture of the church. Then locate one to two verses for each value, to provide Biblical encouragement, discipleship, and direction toward generosity.

Value Illustration: “Life-Giving Conversations”

We are passionate about the power of uplifting conversation. Our words come from our heart and the generous heart of God will be loud.

  • Demonstrated by telling stories at leadership meetings of how life change is occurring in ministry areas due to the positive generosity of our people.
  • Demonstrated by expressing thankfulness in our worship services for the abundant generosity we have received both from God our provider and our people on a weekly basis.
  • Demonstrated by personally thanking volunteers and investors one on one.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

(Proverbs 18:21 NIV)

 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

(2 Corinthians 8:5 NIV)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

(2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV)

Language is one of the most important tools you have as a leader. With language you direct, inspire, inform, and communicate. Clear communication and modeling are actually the two most basic activities in a leadership relationship. You show; you instruct.

Clearly demonstrating agreed upon values in your own words, grounded in scripture is empowering. When you are in a collaborative environment and your team understands how your values impact all ministries, it will provide both accountability and direction for your team.

Taken from SUMS Remix 18-1, published July 2015.

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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