This one statement is the most true leadership statement of any when it comes to experiencing a generous church. “Generous churches are led by generous pastors.” As a leader, you definitely reap what you sow. No matter what your current financial picture, you can grow a generous church. Generous churches are not large and rich or filled with longterm, institutional givers. Every church can be generous when led by a generous pastor.
Here is a simple example of how much power a pastor holds with his words. The Barna Group released a study a couple of years ago entitled “The Generosity Gap.” It studied the many gaps that exist between the pastor and people, along with the different generations, when it comes to the topic of generosity. I will be presenting a four-part blog series on Next Generation Giving to help you reflect on the principles this study uncovered.
“The Generosity Gap” reports, “The gap is immense between pastors and the average Christian on the question of whether it is acceptable for a church member to substitute volunteering for financial giving.” You are probably not shocked to know the vast majority of pastors believe these two forms of giving are different and not interchangeable. While most church members hold a different position.
However, a major influence on this gap is actually the pastor and the attention he provides both of these forms of generosity. “Ironically, some parishioners’ confusion on this question may come from pastors themselves…So, by their own estimates, pastors talk about volunteering much more often than they talk about financial giving. Thus, it’s no surprise that at least some of their congregants believe serving is an acceptable substitute for tithing.”
One of the most powerful tools in a pastors tool belt is his words. We lead with our words in every email, phone call, meeting, and teaching opportunity. Our words are free. We can use as many as we like and we have the power to choose the words that create the culture. Just take the time to reflect on the volume of words invested in serving and volunteering over a given year. Then compare that to the spiritual discipline of generosity. Both forms of generosity are good and needed. Both help us grow. Both expand the kingdom. Both impact others. However, our words for serving typically far outweigh our words for financial giving.
Spend a moment thinking about the amount of time your team invests in growing, enlisting, and training volunteers. Most churches have an ongoing culture of motivating and encouraging volunteerism. Almost every Sunday you can find a sign-up list to help with some event or program. I would even imagine you personally affirm volunteers publicly by celebrating their impact several different times a year. For many churches the confidence level of every staff member to discuss serving as an act of following Christ far outweighs the partnership we embody when it comes to financial giving.
So, pastors, your people are listening. They are following your lead. Step one in growing a generous church is leading a generous team. If your system of volunteerism far outweighs your system for growing generosity in every age group, then you have some work to do. There is good news. God is a generous God. Generosity is good for both the giver and the receiver. The preacher has the power when it comes to generosity.
At Generosity by Lifeway, we provide over one hundred hours of coaching content to our subscribers. Our first module is called Believe. It contains multiple exercises that help us craft a new money language. We do not lead with budgets, needs, or deficits. We lead with the Bible. It gives us confidence and power. Go unleash giving today!