I want you to 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. Let’s work this in reverse so you can get a clear picture of the dream. 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 a sensitivity to what is going on around them, is prepared to respond with a good gift, and is continually releasing their resources toward the good of others.” If we embrace this partial description, then a generous staff team will exhibit an inspiring positive vision that creates opportunity, develops a process that frees these attributes, and personally models a generous life toward the mission.
While each step in the process could warrant a meaningful blog, I want to focus on leading a generous staff team. Below is a list of obstacles, opportunities, and practices.
Obstacle #1: Lack of a vision that naturally unites and empowers a team, years into the future. Most churches exist in a world of generic vision at best. Many have no clearly stated vision at all. It is just assumed everyone knows our vision is the command of Scripture. Pastors can exist between two polar opposites with vision language. They can use too many words to describe one vision. These changing words are thought to create more traction when really, they serve to confuse and dilute. The polar opposite pastor never speaks of vision, because we are just supposed to “be the church and fulfill the great commission.” What else needs to be said? While the great commission is breathtaking, it in and of itself does not create the necessary handles people need to move forward together. The natural result of your staff team are silos. Independent people and ministries that function well on their own (maybe), but do not work well together creating an unstoppable culture.
Opportunity: Create a vision clarity conversation with your team. Ask each of them individually what they believe the clearly stated mission of their local church is? Then give it this 5C Test: Is the mission Clear, Contextual to our location, Catalytic toward action, Concise enough for a middle schooler to remember, and Compelling to a person’s heart?
Obstacle #2: Lack of a positive money culture and conversation. Money is intended to be a wonderful gift to us. However, it is one of life’s biggest stressors. Church staff members are not immune to this life stress and they bring it into their work practices. Budgets can be an avoided conversation both at work and home. How about thinking through what a generous financial plan would look like for your life then your church? Please do not reverse this order. You will grow a generous team first, then a generous church.
Each staff member should be growing to overflow financial and generosity confidence. Then, each individual ministry must help unleash a generosity vision for your people and church as a whole. The church financial plan serves the vision and is flexible to the leading of God during the year. It should possess, along with the people who lead it, the same attributes mentioned of a generous person, focused in a positive direction, sensitive to the ebbs and flows of a year, and ready to respond willingly to a great opportunity. Most staff dread the budget process and experience a good bit of demotivation when it comes to church money. I hope it is obvious to you, but a generous person will not result from a non-generous staff.
Opportunity: Can you and your team confidently answer these questions?
1) Do you have a personal financial dream you are seeking to accomplish over the next five years?
2) What does it look like?
3) What would you need to do this year to get yourself started on the path to achieving your five-year financial goal?
4) What is your financial dream for your people?
5) What teaching themes should consider this year to help your people start on a growth path toward this financial dream?
6) What is your five-year financial dream for your church?
7) What would you need to accomplish this year to get yourself started on the path to achieving your five-year financial goal for your church?
Practice: Read my book Leading A Generous Church together as a team. It is a short 30-day journey through Proverbs that creates staff exercises around generosity. If completed as a team, you will develop a generous culture framework, outline a yearly calendar process, and possess a generosity sermon series.
Also, check out The Best Money Conversations.
Obstacle 3: Lack of a discipleship pathway that grows the spiritual attribute of 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 like Financial Peace University or Crown Financial Ministries. Generosity is not limited to the wealthy, 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 has not embraced this lifestyle as an individual or team, then what likelihood is there that a member of your church will grow to overflow with generosity? If staff members are poor money managers at home, don’t possess an inspiring stewardship testimony, and do not have some of the basic teachings of scripture related to money at the ready, then how will the church ever become generous?
Opportunity: Ask each staff member to name a Bible promise related to money or generosity. (They can not mention a verse related to tithing.) Then ask each staff member to name a great hero in the Bible related to giving. (Once again they can not refer to tithing. I am for tithing, but there is so much more to generosity.) Together as a team create a theology of generosity that your team will live personally, operate under as a team, and utilize to create a new money culture. Create biblical support for each point in your Generosity Theology along with inspiring giving heroes from scripture. Please include applications for all ages and financial positions.
Practice: Launch a church-wide teaching series on the Generous Life. This series published by Lifeway contains sermon outlines, small group discussion guides for all ages, a media kit, and family devotions. It is fully downloadable and priced according to the size of the church so everyone can afford to become generous.
Each week I get the amazing privilege of helping churches release God’s resources in His leaders and people toward His vision for the local church. I promise a church filled with positive, flexible, and responsive people is possible. Your church can have more resources than you need each year and more fun getting there. Enjoy the journey!