Contagious Generosity

What does it look like when pastors cultivate a culture of generosity in the church by actively teaching and mentoring people in the spiritual act of giving?

It’s generosity that’s contagious. A growing number of leaders are beginning to discover that there are key factors that make some churches thrive with abundant resources while others struggle with shrinking budgets.

Jim Sheppard and Chris Willard have spent years consulting with church leaders across a broad spectrum of church settings and have gathered their observations into this resource, part of the Leadership Network Innovations Series.

Contagious Generosity highlights the best practices gleaned from real-life church leadership situations and shows how church leaders can effectively cultivate a culture of generous giving in the local church. It explains why some churches are experiencing unexplainable ministry growth and unprecedented church funding… even in the midst of tough economic times. Read the foreword by Robert Morris

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jim Sheppard and Chris Willard

Jim Sheppard is CEO and principal of Generis. He is an avid student of generosity and is passionate about spreading it throughout the church. For over 19 years, he has devoted his life to helping church people become more generous. Jim is a frequent writer on generosity and ministry funding. His articles have been featured in NACBA Ledger, Your Church, Church Business, Church Solutions, Worship Facilities and BuildingForMinistry.com. He is co-author of the upcoming book, "Contagious Generosity." He is also an inspirational speaker and he has spoken at national church related conferences including WFX (Worship Facilities), National Association of Church Business Administrators, Christian Leadership Alliance and Leadership Network. Chris Willard is a generosity strategist with more than 25 years of ministry leadership experience. Chris also serves as the director of generosity initiatives and premium services with Leadership Network. Over the years he has coached the leaders of some of the most effective churches in America as they have worked to accelerate generosity in their ministries. Previously, Chris was executive pastor of Discovery Church in Orlando. During his tenure there, Discovery launched three multi-site venues and experienced dramatic growth. Chris and his family continue to be actively involved at Discovery where he serves as an elder. Prior to serving with Discovery, Chris worked with Campus Crusade for Christ giving leadership to and raising funds for several strategic national and international initiatives.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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8 Nations of Innovation for Your Church

4. Elimination: What part could we take out to make it simpler?

Software designers who are truly innovative ask this question. Steve Case, who founded AOL, says we always overestimate the amount of complexity people will put up with. So at Saddleback, we ask what we can take out to make things simpler. When I moved here to South Orange County in 1980, I was 25 years old. I was starting a church in a place where land was going for a million dollars an acre. I knew I’d need 50 acres someday, but until then, we eliminated our need for a building. We went 15 years and grew to more than 15,000 in attendance without a building. We used four different high schools, camps, banks, parks and tents. In the first 13 years of Saddleback Church, we used 89 different facilities in Orange County. We became one of the largest churches in America before we ever had a building.

5. Reconstitution: What has died, but we could bring it back to life in a new form?

Ask yourself, “What worked twenty years ago and died?” What great idea from the past could you bring back, but in a new format? For 2,000 years the Christian church has done systematic training. Catholics called it catechism. But a few years back, it had pretty much died. We reformatted systematic training for the Internet age, and we’ve had thousands go through it.

6. Rejuvenation: How could we change the purpose or motivation for doing it?

Sometimes changing the how and why makes all the difference. There are probably 1 billion health plans in America. So why did we start emphasizing biblical health through the Daniel Plan? We knew that for people to fulfill their God-given destiny, they needed to be healthy. We helped people change their motivation for both losing weight and exercising, and we changed the delivery system by having small groups work together to encourage one another to get healthy. Listen to this: In 2011, the Saddleback Church family lost an average of 4,000 pounds a day! Why? We provided a new motivation and created a new delivery system for dieting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

8 Nations of Innovation for Your Church

7. Illumination: How can we look at this in a new light?

When you’ve been working with something for a while, it’s hard to look at it with fresh eyes. I remember a number of years ago, our bathroom mirror cracked. Here was this big crack that went down the middle of the mirror, and it really bugged me at first. I told my wife, “We’ve got to change that.” Yet I didn’t. A couple of days later, I said, “That mirror really bugs me,” but again I didn’t change it. About six months later, it occurred to me I still hadn’t changed out the mirror because it no longer bugged me like it did at first.

We have an amazing adaptability. We just get used to stuff, and all of a sudden, we don’t see the problems anymore. We no longer see the critical issues like we should. So it takes some new eyes to come in and see what you need to do in a new and innovative way. Ask your congregation what they see. Ask them, “How could we do this in a different way?” Find out what innovations they suggest. And take a look at other churches and see how they do things differently from you.

8. Fascination: How could we make it more interesting?

Whatever you’re doing, try to figure out how you can make it more interesting or attractive. For instance, we wanted to create a sense of expectancy in our weekend services. We wanted our services to start with people sensing God in our midst and that lives were about to be changed. So we thought, “What would encourage this spirit of expectancy?”

We came up with several factors: having members praying for the services all week; having members praying during the services; having enthusiastic members bringing their unchurched friends to the service; having a history of life-changing services; music that celebrates the transformational nature of God; and a worship team that faithfully believes lives will be transformed during the service.

If you ask the right questions, they will lead you to the right answers. And the right answers will help you build a solid strategy for your ministry. Then believe that God will lead you to success.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

8 Nations of Innovation for Your Church

Great innovations come from great questions. The quality of your ministry will be determined by the kind of questions you have the courage to ask yourself. If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the right answers. If you don’t get the right answers, you won’t build the right strategy for your ministry. And, if you don’t have the right strategy, you’ll never get the results you hope for. It is critical for you to ask the right questions!

Asking the right questions is a skill you can develop. And you can get good at it. I want to suggest to you eight questions of innovation. These questions will help you innovate—no matter your area of ministry.

I call them the eight nations of innovation, but these nations aren’t geographic. They’re nations of imagination. I’ve used these exact questions to build Saddleback Church, the Purpose Driven Movement, The PEACE Plan, the Global PEACE Coalition and a number of other ministries.

1. Termination: What do I first need to stop?

You can have so many irons in the fire that you put out the fire. The great Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter used to call this creative destruction. One of my mentors, Peter Drucker, used to call it systematic abandonment. When the horse is dead, dismount. This is a real key to success.

Here’s an example: For many years at Saddleback Church, we had a midweek Bible study, and we had a thousand people coming each week. Despite that, we decided to end the Bible study. Why? We weren’t satisfied with a thousand people. So we decentralized the study material and funneled it into small groups. And so today, because we terminated our midweek service, we now have more than 32,000 people in small group Bible studies all the way from Santa Monica to San Diego. There are cities all across Southern California where Saddleback small groups meet. This never would have happened if we hadn’t asked the question, “What do we first need to stop?” Asking this question helped us see the necessity of terminating our midweek service.

2. Collaboration: How do we do it faster, how do we do it larger, how do we do it cheaper—with a team?

If you want to start a movement, you need a team. Your team can include paid staff, but the real path to success is to create a team of volunteers. One of the secrets of Saddleback’s growth is that we’ve mobilized thousands of volunteers. A few years back, during 40 Days of Community, our church fed every homeless person in Orange County. We fed 42,000 homeless people three meals a day for 40 days. We couldn’t have done it without volunteers working together as a team.

3. Combination: What could we mix together to create something new?

One way to innovate is to take two existing things and combine them together. Years ago we combined the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the eight beatitudes of Jesus to create Celebrate Recovery. It’s now the official recovery program in 17 state prison systems, and used by tens of thousands of churches. More than 15,000 people at Saddleback have gone through Celebrate Recovery. Why? We combined two existing things and created something new and innovative.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Six Insights for Leading Lay Volunteers at Your Church

One of the greatest blessings in churches today and throughout history is the number of men and women who gladly and often sacrificially give of their time and energy to do ministry in local congregations. Indeed, churches across the world would not function as they do without the giving spirit of these lay volunteers. Paid staff alone are not sufficient to do all the work of ministry in any church.

Simultaneously, one of the greatest challenges for leaders in churches today is the recruiting and retention of these lay volunteers. Indeed I have had several conversations with church leaders who have seen significant successes and blessings with the mobilization of laity in their churches. I am particularly grateful for the insights given to me by Jess Rainer of Grace Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and Eric Geiger, who recently served at Christ Fellowship in Miami.

These two men, as well as several other church leaders, shared similar stories about their challenges and victories in lay mobilization. In this post, I share with you six insights I gleaned from several leaders who have been successful in recruiting and retaining lay volunteers.

  1. Training is critical. In one of our recent studies, almost all the pastors surveyed affirmed the importance of training lay volunteers. Sadly, the same study showed that only about one-fourth of those pastors had any strategy for training volunteers. Training creates ownership that results in motivated and giving volunteers. I am excited that LifeWay will introduce in just a couple of months a new and incredible resource to help churches across the world train their laity effectively and inexpensively.
  2. Affirmation should be ongoing. Most lay volunteers don’t get involved in church ministries for the attention or the affirmation. But when leaders affirm their work, it communicates to the volunteers that their work in ministry is important. People want to know they are involved in something that makes a difference. Affirmation gives them that very message.
  3. The relationship between the laity and paid church staff should always be a partnership. Church leaders should continuously communicate that all work of ministry is a co-laborship. There is no organizational hierarchy where the laity submits to the church staff. One group does ministry as a calling and vocation. The other group does ministry as a calling and unpaid service. Both are vital in the life of the church.
  4. The form of communication with laity is critical. As much as possible, vocational church leaders should spend face-to-face time with lay volunteers. They should learn how those volunteers like to communicate. For some, a text message is fine. For others, they want to hear a live voice. But all of them need some personal interaction with the paid church leaders.
  5. Start lay volunteers with bite-size responsibilities. Don’t overwhelm them with a task or ministry that appears daunting. See how they respond to smaller, well-defined tasks at first. From that point, leaders can discern if the volunteers can take on more ministry responsibilities.
  6. Communicate with clarity and specificity. Many lay volunteers quit out of frustration because they think their assignments are neither clear nor specific. Don’t assume volunteers have the same level of insights or knowledge as those whose daily work and responsibility is at the local church. It is better to over-explain and to be redundant than to assume the volunteer has significant prior knowledge about the ministry assignment.

How is your church doing in mobilizing laity to do the work of ministry? What are some victories and success stories you could share? What are some struggles you have experienced?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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COMMENTS

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Louise — 10/08/13 3:30 pm

I've served numerous churches as a paid staff member and as a volunteer. By far, being a volunteer has been the most frustrating and painful. If I didn't love God and His people with everything in me and feel an intense call of God to win/disciple the lost, I would move to a cabin in the woods, seek God as a monk, and try to avoid dealing with church foolishness. I've had numerous experiences where specific staff never returned phone calls or emails. There is one church that my husband served as part-time staff for 4 years. The pastor was very good about returning calls/emails. Once we became volunteers at that church, though, the staff person who oversaw our area would hardly give us the time of day. At another church of 1,000, I had to copy the senior pastor whenever I emailed the Staff person who oversaw the area of ministry I was a leader in, or that Staff person would never respond back. (Sad, that the Senior Pastor had to put pressure on him to do something he should have done without pressure.) Often staff neglect to include volunteer leaders in decisions made in regard to their ministry. My whole budget was cancelled for one outreach ministry I had been recruited to lead, because of a church building program. I had no money to run it or promote it. (Sad, I had 100 people from the community participating in this outreach program. ) At the same church, I led a Wednesday night Bible electives ministry and the pastor and his associate made the decision to combine everyone into one group, without involving me or notifying me (I read about it in the bulletin.) After 10 years, we left that church and no one ever asked why. It seems like it should be common knowledge that people need to know about a class before they will attend, yet some churches make it very difficult to publicize a class. Before the Wednesday ministry was changed, the pastor had made decisions that cut out most avenues for promoting classes in the church. No inserts in bulletins, posters around building, and there was no info station, so the only place left was to put flyers, on the inside doors of the bathroom stalls. In another church, a new staff member took over the media department. He didn't trust a volunteer experienced marketing person/writer to put together updated flyers of discipleship classes, so a year went by with nothing to provide people. The website, only showed some of the groups. (How long does it take to fix a template or type up/print a flyer?) Result: Group attendance suffered and it was hard to build new groups. Better to use a volunteer, even though that volunteer might come up with a different design that you would. (Staff member: Don't complain about limited time when you aren't using the people resources He provided you.) The church I attend now doesn't track attendance or believe in taking surveys. They have a revolving door and have lost most of the youth and young couples. It's too bad the staff don't seek out faithful volunteers to receive insights. The volunteers are the ones who are sitting in the pews, talking to those around them, before and after service. The staff seems too busy dealing with the urgent and organizing the next worship service./event to really listen. Well, now that I got that off my chest, I will continue to fight the good fight!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.