2 Challenges in Growing a Generous Church

Give some thought to what it would be like to be a part of a generous church, led by a generous staff, overflowing with generous people. While generous people can be described in many ways, I will limit their attributes to this statement: A generous person exudes an overall positive disposition, lives with sensitivity to what is going on around them, and is ready to respond to needs. If we embrace this partial description, a generous staff will exhibit a positive vision, provide a process that develops generosity, and live generously.

Below are two obstacles related to leading a generous staff as well as opportunities and practices for overcoming them.

Obstacle #1: An unhealthy culture and unhealthy conversations about money.

Money is intended to be a wonderful gift to us. However, it is also one of the biggest life stresses. Church staff members are not immune to this life stress, and they bring it into their work practices. A generous financial plan (i.e. Church Budget) prioritizes the church goals for the year, allows flexibility year to year, and provides margin for preparing for the future and managing surprises. The financial plan should be focused in a positive direction, sensitive to the ebbs and flows of a year, and ready to respond to a great opportunity. Many staff dread the budget process and experience demotivation when it comes to church money. Generous people will not result from a non-generous staff.

Opportunity: Ask each staff member to record the last three conversations or statements they had or heard around the office related to church money or budget. Would these statements be considered more or less indicative of a positive generous culture?

Obstacle #2: Lack of a discipleship pathway that aims to grow generosity in the life of a believer.

Growing the attribute of generosity is not the same as preaching on tithing or conducting a capital campaign. Nor is it limited to a money management course. Generosity is not limited to the wealthy or those who are older or even those who are debt free. The generous life is possible every day by everyone regardless of age, financial position, or life stage. Now, if your staff leadership have not embraced this lifestyle as individuals or as a team, what likelihood is there that a member of your church will overflow with generosity? If staff members are poor money managers at home, don’t possess an inspiring stewardship testimony, and do not have the basic teachings of Scripture related to money at the ready, how will the church ever become generous?

Opportunity: Ask each staff member to name a Bible promise related to money or generosity (it cannot be a reference to tithing). Then ask each staff member to name a great hero in the Bible related to giving. Together as a team, create a theology of generosity that your team will live personally and utilize together to create a new generosity culture. Highlight biblical support with both principles and heroes. Include applications for all ages and financial positions.


If you are interested in studying generosity with your group or with your church, Generous Life can help you work toward a culture of gospel-centered generosity. This five-week stewardship emphasis, co-created by Auxano and the Groups Ministry team at LifeWay, will help members identify the type of giver they are and the kind of giver God is making them to be. This resource includes five weeks of message outlines, study guides for adults, kids, and preschool, family devotionals, and an optional media kit.


Want to know more about developing a generous church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Helps to Leading a Generous Church

Church leaders worry about money. They worry about the church being able to pay its bills. They see the gap between the vision they believe God has given them and the reality of the contents of the offering plate. They’re nervous about what will happen if they can’t finish the year strong financially. Most pastors go into ministry because they want to care for people. Then they are rudely awakened to the reality that they are actually running a small business.

Years ago, I listened to an interview with Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels on tape … that tells you how long ago it was … and he said something that has stuck with me: “If the only thing that is holding back the vision of your church is money, you need to get out and raise it!” Not rocket science but it stayed with me. Part of our role as church leaders is raising the financial resources necessary to accomplish the vision God has given us. It’s not magical or mystical … it’s just work.

In the same vein, I’ve seen so many people get fired up in their own spiritual lives by increasing their generosity. Living a life that is about giving instead of acquiring is a core discipleship truth that people need to learn. People win when we help them grow in generosity. In a world obsessed with consumption, our pastoral responsibility is to show people a better way to a generous life. Some church leaders don’t want to “talk about money” because of the stigma associated with it. They are robbing people of a potential spiritual breakthrough!

Here are some resources to help you increase the culture of generosity in your church:

  • Offering Talks // Taking a moment before you receive the offering to frame that experience is one of the ways you can encourage generosity without feeling like a used car salesman. As you thank people for being generous, they move toward being more generous. The resource below walks you through what makes a great offering talk. It even provides you with sample scripts to put into action right away.
  • Year-End Campaigns // The last 45 days of the year are a critical time in non-profit fundraising. Our culture is primed to give to “philanthropic causes” around the end of the year but most churches ignore the opportunity to see a 10-15% bump in their annual revenue. Think through a strategic plan to cast vision for giving to your church like any other non-profit that contacts donors during this time. It can help fund great ministry opportunities for the coming year. This resource walks through the essential steps for a successful campaign in the next Christmas season:
  • Major Campaign Initiatives // At some point in the histories of most churches, they need to cast a compelling “game-changing” vision and ask people to give far above and beyond what they normally give. Major giving campaigns that fund new campuses, new ministry initiatives or traditional bricks-and-mortar projects are still a mainstay. I’ve led two major multi-million dollar campaigns and from experience I can say that doing it with a trusted advisor is preferred over “doing it alone!” Find out some of the things they won’t tell you:
  • Tithe Challenge // What would happen if you asked people to take Malachi 3:10 at face value for 90 days? “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” Then if people don’t experience the transformation we believe they will through generous giving, you return their offering to them. Sounds crazy, right? After studying a few other churches that did this tithe challenge, we’ve done it for the last three years. It continues to be a fruitful tool and people say their perspectives on generosity were challenged and changed because of it. Here are some questions I would challenge you to ask before deciding to head into a 90-day tithe challenge campaign:
  • Be Seen to Be Generous // People need to be led and taught in lots of areas of their lives. They need to be shown what it looks like to have an authentic prayer life and they need to see healthy relationships modeled for them. The same is true for seeing what generosity looks like. Churches need to model generosity on a corporate level as a part of the journey toward people being generous with us. One of my core convictions as a leader is that people are drawn to generous organizations … if we’re stingy with our resources then they will be too. If we’re generously reaching out and helping others around us, then people will follow suit. Listen to this interview with a leader of a church that is doing an amazing job leveraging assets in a tangible way to be a blessing to their community:

Read more from Rich.


Learn more about becoming a generous church. Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Overcoming the 10 Myths of a Generous Church

I constantly hear pastors bemoan why their church is not more generous. “Our people just don’t give enough” or “We aren’t a rich church” are the two most common replies I encounter. It is so easy for expansive generosity to be considered a gift for someone else. Before you write off your generosity potential, here is my top 10 list of myths about a generous church.

1. Generous Churches are huge.

> False: They come in all sizes.

2. Generous Churches are filled with rich people.

> False: They are filled with growing people.

3. Generous Churches are in the Bible Belt.

> False: They are anywhere.

4. Generous Churches are older and more mature.

> False: They are changed, focused, and passionate.

5. Generous Churches are growing rapidly.

> False: They are consistently aligned.

6. Generous Churches are only about numbers.

> False: They are about impact.

7. Generous Churches have a charismatic leader.

> False: They are a led by a visionary leader.

8. Generous Churches are in big cities.

> False: They are where a generous leader is.

9. Generous Churches have a large staff and budget.

> False: They have a leadership pipeline and spend strategically.

10. Generous Churches have small visions.

> False: They pray and live boldly.

Consistently I find that one characteristic above all others can be found every time you encounter a generous church – a generous staff being led by a generous pastor.

> Read more from Todd.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen has served for over 30 years in a variety of roles in the local church, doing everything from planting churches to lead pastor. While on staff he conducted two major capital campaigns helping to guide his local churches through sizable relocation projects. Those two churches alone raised over $35,000,000. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship and generosity campaign coach, as well as a conference leader and speaker. Todd is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, FL and Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Theresa, and their two kids, Riley and Breanna. You can contact Todd at todd@auxano.com or 205-223-7803.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.