In this blog I am going to reveal one of the biggest generosity secrets that only a few churches deploy. It is powerful in terms of how it helps advance the vision on many different fronts. Every church can leverage it and it will cost you nothing. I call it “savvy stewardship” and here is how it works.
First, let’s clarify terms that we often use interchangeably. Understanding their differences is critical. The word “stewardship” has become a generic word in the church and is seldom used outside the church. When “stewardship” is used in culture it typically refers to responsible management of the earth’s resources. It does not usually connote or denote financial money management. Inside the church, stewardship can be used as a catch all for anything related to church money. It could be used to refer to a “Capital Stewardship Campaign,” “Church Stewardship Team,” “Stewardship Message Series,” or a “Stewardship Training Class.” In some of these instances we are referring to raising money from church people while other times it has to do with how money is managed both corporately and personally. We can unknowingly become confusing to our people.
It is extremely important to clearly define the terms stewardship and generosity, then use them with specific intentionality. “Stewardship” is the management of resources and can be applied to personal or church funds. “Generosity” is the releasing of resources. You see generosity and stewardship are not the same at all. They may or may not have a relationship depending on your approach. You can live generously without having a budget. While you can also have a budget that does not include generosity. So in this blog, I am talking about savvy stewardship, how we manage church money wisely, that increases generosity.
Now, let me lay out a generosity plan that can inform your stewardship plan which leads to increased margin, generosity, and ministry results. Here you go. Enjoy!
- Increased Generosity – One of the ways generosity is released is through a passion for a specific cause, opportunity, or need. We give to all three. I can be passionate about reaching children and respond generously by donating a new sound system to the children’s ministry. I can be presented with the opportunity to support a mission project that is building an orphanage by providing a gift so a team member can go on the trip. Finally, I can be exposed to the need of a foster family responding generously by serving their daily needs. In each case a generous person is more than willing to engage above and beyond resources to respond to a cause, opportunity, or need. This happens everyday, many times outside the strategic plan of the church.
To be savvy, the church needs to create ongoing above and beyond causes that are dynamic and active. (If your church is a Generosity by Lifeway subscriber we have training tools on this in the Thank Module.) Here is a list of the causes that people find that motivate them to give dollars above and beyond church budget needs.
Next Generation (Kids and Students)
I would strongly encourage every church to have an ongoing and dynamic list of visionary items that a generous person can give towards every week of the year. Be sure this giving list only contains items outside the current budget. If a donor provides the revenue, your church leadership must act immediately. Think of it like you are funding future budget items in advance. People will give above and beyond dollars when the vision, cause, opportunity, and need are clearly actionable with immediate impact. I promise when this ongoing generosity strategy is supported by personal communication and leadership investment into both your best and newest givers generosity will rise. There is no way it can’t.
- Savvy Stewardship – Giving is now on the increase toward causes that impact church growth the most. This means you should be experiencing a double blessing of a giving increase and transformational growth at a faster than expected pace. You are actually funding future opportunities in the present year. This means for each of the five categories above you have more resources at your disposal today.
Next, there are many items in the church budget that are not as motivating to the giver, yet are critical to the mission. So the extra revenue and growth you are experiencing via your savvy generosity strategy creates the opportunity to re-prioritize your budget investment strategy. I would suggest you consider the following items.
- Create margin in your budget by reducing some of the line items that are now receiving additional funding from the above and beyond giving. You should be able to reduce your budget line in certain areas while still providing more over all funds due to the increased generosity. Monthly financial margin is a powerful gift to your team, people, and future.
- With this margin you can move the funds to increase undesignated cash reserves. The more cash reserves you have the more opportunities you have to fund brand new ministries in the future or take full advantage of the surprise ministry opportunities a church encounters every year. As cash reserves increase you may consider moving some of these funds to a designated capital improvements or building fund. When you string several years together of both increased generosity and savvy stewardship you will find yourself paying cash for items that previously went undone or start building projects that never got off the ground.
- Reprioritize budget expenses toward less motivating needs like debt reduction. Now that you have freed up extra cash in your budget you can direct more resources toward principal repayment. Capital campaigns for debt are very challenging. Learning to pay them off aggressively with a smart business plan will increase the confidence of your best givers who will give even more to your most visionary causes.
When you provide your people with a very motivating giving path then marry that with a very smart spending plan you are winning on both ends. Givers are blessed, new ventures funded, and debt erased. Unleash giving today!
Some think the next generation is giving less than generations before them. The reality is they are just giving in different ways. Download our free ebook Next Generation Giving is Here.