Every church desires a more generous culture. I have never heard a pastor say anything different. However, when I explore that desire a little more deeply what I hear pastors seeking most is money to fund their vision or relieve the pressure. So the solution is always to focus upon the ministries that directly affect the money. This usually means two things. A church will try to launch a money management small group or seminar. Or it will also seek to raise more funds with a giving emphasis. While money management workshops are important, very few people will attend and they do not create a more generous church. They definitely help people manage their funds more wisely if they follow through with the principles. A fundraiser emphasis does increase giving for the short term, but rarely has legs to it.
So I want to provide some insights into a few ministries that are absolute musts in having a generous culture. They are not housed in the financial department, everyone can be involved, and the results are far reaching and widespread.
I often say that generosity begins in the parking lot. The minute a guest drives on the campus they can experience the generous culture of your church. It can be seen in the excellent care of grounds and the welcoming faces in the parking lot. Having people-oriented-people at every door with an infectious smile on their faces goes a long way in giving yourself away for the cause. Think for a moment of the impact when someone believes that a church has expanded such effort to roll out the red carpet just for them. It is powerful for your people to learn to give their lives away in such a simple manner, but it is also contagious for those who are experiencing it. The freedom that comes from relational generosity is infectious. Raise the value of a people-oriented guest experience in your church.
Facility and Grounds
The standard to which a facility is kept is extremely important to the emotional experience. This is true for both the guest and the regular attender. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and got nervous about the quality of the food just because of how the facility looked? Have you ever been nervous walking through a hospital or uneasy in a hotel because it just wasn’t as clean as you expected? Environment matters. Maintain church facilities to a very high standard. This doesn’t mean you flaunt affluence, but keep the grass mowed, weeds removed, parking lot repaired, signage clear, carpet clean, and paint fresh. Do not allow people to experience concern or nervousness because of your facility. Keep it as nice as a well kept home in your community and well prepared for guests. This standard will cause people to feel pride, helping them to be eager to invite and invest.
Words from the stage communicate much. This includes both the words said and unsaid. Every word from the stage is a moment to impact and disciple. Even words used in prayers, announcements, response time, and pre-offering comments have a great impact towards communication. Be strategic and script all of your words. When speaking to the guests ooz relational generosity.
Here are my suggestions:
- Honor them. Unfortunately, the church can often communicate all that it is against so much easier than what it is for.
- Do not embarrass them. Help both your guests and regular attenders to easily know what to do next.
- Orient them to the service and facility.You are their tour guide into spiritual growth for the day. Make it easy for someone to take their next step whether that be complete a registration card or attend a small group.
- Let them off the hook. Don’t assume they know what is the most important next spiritual step.
- When praying, pray generously. Pray great things over their lives, your city, country, and world.
- Finally, celebrate them. Share about all the good an offering does at your church. Don’t just take an offering, describe the power of how your church gives and invests.
Every word is important, don’t wing it or fake it. Be very intentional. Disciple people with your words.
Having a guest attend one time is not the goal. The goal is to have them return time and time again so that God can meet their deepest need, heal their family, grow their faith, and propel them into their future. Each person that is transformed adds to the generous story of what God is doing at your church. Each person inspires another person. Each person has the chance to become involved in the mission of transforming a life. Each person has the potential to unleash their gifts and story. One domino leads to another. The more guests that become transformed fans of Jesus, the bigger the army of God grows. As the army increases so does the amount of personal invitations into the community, the doors of open ministry expand, the amount of givers and volunteers rises. People are your biggest resource, not your dollars. Create a highway for them, not hurdles.
The best people are the most involved. They are the most positive, they invite, they give, they serve, and they stick through the tough seasons. Patching the holes in your engagement process and closing the back door are integral to a generous culture. People become more engaged when they discover their place. People will deepen belonging when they are more connected to the vision, purpose, and body of Christ. Make the vision of your church clear and actionable by all. The mission isn’t just for super saints, it’s for everyone. Respect that people connect differently to the mission. Some will gravitate towards a small group, others will want to jump in and serve. Make both super easy. Make the steps clear. Measure your success. At church we can justify success by events with crowds. We need to validate success when a wandering person is engaged in fulfilling their God-given purpose. Until this happens we are simply entertaining good people.
The money that flows through a generous church is the result of many well intented actions. Being guest friendly and serving as a personal tour guide for someone’s spiritual journey is the most powerful strategy. People invite people who become all they can become through growing, serving, and giving. This has exponential impact and every church can do it with excellence.