One of my missions is to help church leaders understand the difference between stewardship and generosity. Both are great subjects that need to be addressed, but the strategies and outcomes are very different. Unfortunately, it is easy to have a limited perspective on the reach of both subjects. Simply put, stewardship is the practice of properly managing God’s resources. While generosity is the practice of releasing resources. Money can be a rare topic in the church, but the training box can often be checked by offering a class on stewardship. Incidentally, few attend and rarely does church income rise. The emphasis can tend to focus on debt reduction thus channeling resources away from generosity.
Overflow by Generous Church is 100% in the generosity camp. The topic of generosity is for all ages and income levels. It is not focused on stewardship or fundraising, but on releasing the spiritual practice of living the giving lifestyle. The generous life is good for all. The giver, the receiver, the church, and the world always benefit. It is hard to find another activity that is guaranteed to have a positive impact 100% of the time!
Here are some reflections I have upon reading Overflow.
- The foundation verse is Proverbs 11:25. It is one of my favorite generosity passages that promises the giving lifestyle refreshes both the giver and receiver. It is not hard today to find a person that is tired and overwhelmed by life or the circumstances that surround them. What would it be like to have a church full of refreshed people that continually refreshed others? Think of the vibrancy it would create in a worship experience, on a greeter team, or in a small group setting. The generous life is a culture setting attribute that churches need to highly prioritize. It will bless you in more ways than you could imagine.
- The first three sessions in the six week curriculum focus squarely upon the generous God who actively pursues a relationship of blessing with us. Generosity should be a response to the unconditional love of God. Unfortunately, giving can be a response to pressure, emotion, or campaign appeal. I am all for responding to a need and funding a vision. However, it is so much more fun and rewarding when the giving opportunity stands on the foundation of a response to a generous God. Our approach at Generosity by LifeWay is to help pastors grow generous disciples. Step one is the creation of a Generosity Theology to stand upon and enjoying a thriving personal relationship with the generous God is a great principle.
- The final three sessions in Overflow help a believer overcome the internal obstacles often faced in a giving moment. The issue of fear and living open handedly are welcomed teachings. This is not a curriculum on church giving necessarily or tithing, but on living the overflow of generosity as a natural lifestyle. The emphasis upon relationship and community make it especially useful in the local church. If you need to help introduce giving as a discipleship topic and want to completely avoid the assumption of people that the church is raising money. This curriculum is a great level setter for a generous culture.
- The Generosity Matrix is especially helpful to an individual believer. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the parable of the soils which provides a mirror into the different steps in growing whole-life generosity. The four quadrants based upon what we know, feel, and do related to generosity make applications easily accessible. At Generosity by LifeWay we think it is really important to not lump all people together as one type of giver. Everyone is on a different growth path starting in a different place. The Generosity Matrix is a good companion tool for our Generosity Pathway.
We are thrilled to have Generous Church as one of our featured partners and experts. We love their content and approach. To learn more about Generous Church, Generosity by LifeWay, and Overflow click here www.lifeway.com/generosity.