Every pastor I meet desires his church to grow in generosity. Who wouldn’t desire more resources to accomplish more vision? But what is the secret? How do I take steps in the right direction, experiencing a generosity overflow without talking about money all the time?
Here is what we know about generous churches, they are led by a generous pastor and team. However, most leadership team members do not view generosity as part of their job. This puts all the pressure squarely on the back of the pastor which is neither good nor fun. So, pastor, I want to help. Let’s talk about relieving your pressure while growing your team in generosity.
STEP 1: LAUNCH YOUR OWN GENEROSITY JOURNEY.
The topic of money is typically not high on the preaching priority for a pastor and I do not blame you. However, if this has led to a long period of silence on living a generous life, we have some work to do. Let’s gain some confidence by moving the conversation from a church budget or project need to personally growing the gift of generosity. You will need to push pause before you hit the gas with your team to gain a solid footing.
Let’s exchange the money dialogue with a generosity conversation. Take the time to organize your daily devotional for a month around key stories in the Bible that teach on generous living. Try to avoid stories that are more negative at first, like Ananias and Sapphira. We all know how to fail at giving. Let’s try to look towards the hope and promise of a generous life. Initially, you will also want to avoid the tithing passages as well. These are typically equated with stewardship and generosity, but we want to bring a fresh word to the journey.
During your devotions journal about what God is teaching you. Look for the encouragement that comes from the story. What is the impact? What is the experience for both the giver and the receiver? What are the overt or hidden promises? Quietly start putting these principles into practice in your own life. Increasing what you believe and what you are practicing is your first step in growing a generous team.
STEP 2: SHARE A DEVOTION AT AN UPCOMING LEADERSHIP MEETING.
Once you have concluded a month of personal devotions and have begun to practice this newfound value, you are ready to begin talking with others. Craft a devotion built from your favorite generosity passage. Choose one that produces confidence and passion in you. Take about 10-15 minutes to unpack the story, what it means to you, and how it is playing out in your life. You might even consider running an exercise with your team. Have them divide into groups and discuss the passage prior to your devotion. Provide them a few discussion questions letting them report back before you share.
Here are a sample passage and some questions that might prod good thinking. The story of Zaccheus is one of my favorites. He was ridiculously generous during his first faith experience with Jesus.
Luke 19:8 says, “But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.”
Possible Group Discussion Questions:
- Do the math. What percentage of his resources did Zaccheus give, was it more or less than a tithe?
- Describe Zaccheus’ life as you imagine it to be. Share about his possible life stage, community reputation, social network, and faith development.
- What can we learn about the generous life from Zaccheus?
- How can we apply this to our own lives?
- How can we apply this to those we lead?
STEP 3: SHARE A STORY ABOUT HOW YOU ARE PERSONALLY GROWING IN GENEROSITY.
Because this topic of generosity is new and one you are growing in, you may want to consider providing a little backstory for your team. Tell them about how the Lord has been speaking to you on the topic of living generously and not to confuse it with church budget needs. You are growing stronger in this area of your faith and will be leading the team to do the same.
You might consider sharing a few of the verses you have read over the past month along with some personal growth steps you have been experiencing. Do not be afraid to confess that you may not have led as strong in this area in the past or how you may struggle in areas like serving generosity in your home or community. A little humility and honesty go a long way to help others go with you moving forward.
When it comes to pastoral staff leading confidently on the topic of generosity one of the biggest challenges is that we can be personally embarrassed that our finances at home are a wreck. Let’s try to remove this hurdle with personal humility, helping everyone get in the game.
Proverbs 11:24 says, “A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water.”
Generosity heals and refreshes us. We want to release this spirit in our team, removing the possible guilt or shame someone may feel. Getting in the game is the most important step to growing a unified generous team.
STEP 4: READ A BOOK TOGETHER.
There is nothing like shared learning. Establishing a common language and framework helps everyone get on the same page. Here are a few books you might consider along with a brief description. They are all very short reads and inspirational.
Plastic Donuts by Jeff Anderson is a wonderfully delightful book that helps us see our giving from God’s perspective. It is gracious and powerful.
The Money Challenge by Art Rainer is a book that addresses both personal stewardship and generosity. You could hit both topics at the same time.
The Genius of Generosity by Chip Ingram is the real-life story of one pastor and key giver who make a generosity pact. It is very inspiring.
So whether you need to start at the very beginning of the conversation or kindle a fading passion, these steps are great. Generosity is not a sprint. It is a marathon. I would not address this as the flavor of the season, but as a value to be made permanent in your culture. Go slow. Be honest. Don’t quit. Just imagine a church filled with generous people being led by a generous team. The blessings of generosity will produce overflowing resources, joy, life, and impact. Go unleash giving today!