9 Ways to Grow Generous Disciples

For every leader, it requires artful and prayerful leadership to inspire a congregation to give.

That said, I know how much stress pastors and church leaders carry about church finances. So my hope is that this “simple” list is helpful, encouraging, easily accessible, and therefore worth the risk.

1) Never make money about expenses, make it about vision.

People can smell desperation from a leader. When you allow your financial pressures to leak into your teaching and general announcements from the platform you receive less income not more. Vision is what moves people to contribute financially. People work hard for their income and want to know it’s going to a Kingdom purpose greater than they can produce on their own.

2) Practice generosity personally.

Your personal giving patterns may never be of public record, but your level of generosity is inherently connected to your leadership. When giving to others is as natural as breathing, that finds its way into the DNA of your leadership and people respond accordingly. You behave differently and the congregation responds in kind.

3) Offer an online giving option.

In the last 5-7 years online giving has caught tremendous traction in the local church. It fits the normal practices and patterns of your people for a great deal of their personal finances. In short, it’s easier than remembering to write a check and carry it to church. Don’t stop receiving your physical offering, but I highly recommend you set up online giving.

4) Teach one series on giving per year.

If you talk about money too much your congregation becomes anesthetized to what you are saying. In general, people know they are “supposed to give,” they see the offering received every week! Merely telling them or asking them the same way over and over again doesn’t change anything. If you prepare and present, for example, an annual 4-week series on biblical stewardship, including tithing, the impact is far greater.

5) Demonstrate wise stewardship.

Giving starts with vision, but continues through good stewardship. Nothing increases trust faster than when the leadership consistently demonstrates wise money management. If you are not great at the financial part of leadership, get some help from a few sharp business leaders in your church.

6) Teach tithing for the benefit of the people, not the church as an organization.

This should be included within your annual financial series, but it deserves special note on its own. Giving is not about money as much as it is about trust. It’s a heart issue more than a wallet issue. Trusting that God will provide for personal needs, and that principles like obedience and gratitude are part of spiritual maturity are of huge benefit to each person.

The results of giving are a major blessing to the individual and far exceed the significance of the church “making budget.” I’m not downplaying or dismissing the church’s need for financial resources, but I’m saying make it personal not organizational.

7) Be bold about tithing with leaders.

Tithing is part of a believer’s spiritual journey. It’s good to be clear and direct, but also be very encouraging with the general congregation when it comes to your teaching on tithing. But when it comes to teaching leaders to tithe, it’s good to be bold. If they are representing the church, carrying spiritual responsibility and commensurate spiritual authority, it needs to be backed by spiritual obedience.

8) Tell stories of life change.

Few things are more inspiring than stories of life change. When your congregation consistently hears these stories, whether you tell them or by video or just a hallway conversation, they are reminded of the vision and what God wants to do through your church. Make baptisms a part of your worship experience, they are some of the best stories ever told!

9) Offer personal financial training.

When we as leaders challenge people to give without equipping them to give, we create a kind of spiritual dissonance. Without knowledge of basic budgeting, debt reduction and personal savings etc., it’s difficult to embrace consistent giving, let alone tithing. Offer top-notch finance training through small groups and seminars at your church. Financial freedom is a powerful tool to help your people grow!

> Read more from Dan.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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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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To Develop Generous Disciples, Understand Why People Give

If you want your church to grow, you must learn how to motivate believers to invest their resources into the kingdom for ministry and for facilities. It is a key responsibility of leadership. Whoever writes the agenda must be able to underwrite the agenda. If you’re going to form the vision you also have to be able to fund the vision.

A lot of pastors, a lot of elders, lot of church leaders have a real hangup about asking people to give. They allow personal insecurities and personal fears to limit the ministry. You don’t need to be embarrassed about asking people to give. There is nothing greater than the kingdom of God. There is no more significant cause than the church.

I am very much against fundraising, but I am in favor of teaching people to give.  Fundraising is what I call collecting money from other people in return for a product, service, reward or recognition. But in giving, we simply challenge ourselves to give out of our own resources for spiritual reasons. The result of fundraising is that funds are collected.  The results of teaching people to be givers is that funds are collected and disciples are developed.

And to develop generous disciples, you need to understand why people give.

1.  People give when they trust the leadership.

John 10:1-11 says, “The sheep listen to the shepherd’s voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. He goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice but they will never follow a stranger. In fact, they will run from him. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd.” Study after study has proven that in the hierarchy of giving, people give first of all to people they believe in. Then they give to purposes. Finally they give to programs. That means that the most essential elements in teaching people to give are relational, not functional.

Even if you use a consultant to help you raise money, you as the pastor still need to be out front. Because the person who asks for the giving needs to be the person with the most credibility. And if you are a Pastor and you are not the most trusted person, you have a leadership problem and you’re not ready to teach people to give yet. You need to be the most visible because the person who is the best qualified to ask for money should be the person whose the most trusted.

2.  People give when they catch a vision, not when they see a need.

The Bible says, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Did you know that Ivy League schools usually receive the largest endowments? And they are the schools that need the money the least. Why? People give to success. They give to vision. They don’t give to needs.  That’s why in fifteen years we have never had a bulletin with our financial reports in it along with how much we need. Why? Because bills do not motivate people to give. People give when they catch a vision and they get the big picture.

You must be very clear about what your vision is. At Saddleback, we’ve never had a vision for a building, but rather for what the building can help us do. We’ve never had a vision for raising money, but rather for what the money can do. Emphasize the lives that will be changed as people give – the marriages that will be saved, the broken people that are going to be put back together, the people who will break addictions, the changed lives that will happen. That’s the vision!

3.  People give to experience the joy of generosity.

It feels good to give generously – it really does. A person who doesn’t understand that has never given generously. The happiest people in the world are the most giving people. Guilt never motivates people to give. Giving that is motivated by guilt only lasts as long as the guilt does. So you never use guilt to motivate people to give. You use joy to motivate people to give.

I absolutely do not accept the health and wealth theology, which teaches that God wants everybody to be rich. But the fact is, there are more promises in the Bible related to giving than any other subject. You cannot out-give God. If you’re going to be Christlike you’ve got to learn to give.

4.  People give when they are inspired by models.

We learn best by watching models. That’s why a testimony about giving is a thousand times more effective than a sermon on giving. Models motivate us. Giving is contagious. So I encourage people to write down and send me their testimonies, how they decided to give, and what they were giving.

5.  People give when they are involved.

Paul told the Philippians, “I thank God because of your partnership in the gospel.”  The fact is those who are most involved in the campaign will be those who sacrifice the most. One of our gauges of involvement at Saddleback is how many people have completed our CLASSes (and you can get our CLASS material here). And the more CLASSes people have completed, the more involved they are, and the more they tend to give. The average gift in our church from an attender during one of our giving campaigns was about $7000. For the people who had gone through class 101, the average gift was $8500. The average of gift for people who had been through class 201 and 101 was over $11,000.  And the average gift of people who had been through 101, 201 and 301, which usually indicates they are actually involved in the ministry of the church was over $15,000.

6.  People give when you ask them to give.

James says, “You have not because you ask not.” The Bible says ask and seek and knock. God asks people to give. The fact is we’re doing people a favor when we ask them to give because they grow in faith, they grow in love, they grow in sacrifice, they grow in commitment, they grow in character as they learn to give. They will be blessed in return. Never say no for anybody. Your church will be hurt more by those who would have said yes and were not asked than by those who were asked and said no.

7.  People give when you make it possible for them to give.

2 Corinthians 8 says, “For if the willingness is there the gift is acceptable according to what one has not according to what one does not have.” That means you need to make it possible for people to give in as many ways as you can. Teach people how to want to give and they’ll figure out how.

Teach people that they can either give by reason or by revelation. Giving by reason means this – I look at what I have, I figure out what’s reasonable and I commit that amount. It doesn’t take any faith to give by reason. I just figure out what can I afford to give. Giving by revelation means I determine my gift by praying “Lord, what do You want to give through me?” This requires faith. When you give by revelation, you’re committing an act of worship and saying, “How much am I willing to trust God?”

8.  People give when their gifts are appreciated.

The whole book of Philippians is just a thank you letter from Paul for their offering, for their financial support. Figure out seven ways to thank people for their gift – a card, a call, a banquet, etc. A little appreciation goes a long way in encouraging people to be generous for the long haul.

> Read more from Rick.


 Would you like to learn more about developing generous disciples in your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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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

What say you? Leave a comment!

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.