A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with my friend Jeff Gott, the executive VP of WaterStone. During our conversation, we discussed how many churches often miss opportunities to cultivate generosity in Christians in a way that translates into increasing their capacity for ministry.
A couple of questions surfaced:
Many Christians are generous people ... yet, why is it that less than twelve percent of 'active' Christians tithe to their local church? Is it a heart problem for them or an opportunity missed by the local church?
More than likely, you’ve asked these same questions at some point in time during your ministry. While the answer may be more of a 'both/and' situation, Jeff and I agreed that the local church could do something to address these issues.
We both agreed there are numerous ways churches could better cultivate generosity by improving their process. Today, I want to highlight four ways to improve your church’s process for ministry engagement, which can improve the overall culture of generosity within your church and help you break free from the frustration so many churches face when it comes to giving.
- Capitalize on the generous people who are actively involved in ministry.
Many of your church members might be more willing to give of their time than their money. However, becoming an actively involved member could be a stepping stone to encouraging them to become generous with their financial resources. The more they’re involved in your church’s ministry, the more evident the need for resources becomes. Some people have to see the impact that’s being made before they will contribute. The Be Rich Campaign is a perfect example of this.
Questions to consider: How do you empower people to be generous? Is it based on a biblical mandate or on allowing people to experience the blessing of being generous?
- Provide generous people with results.
Generous people look at their gifts as investments. They want to see impact and return on investment. This doesn’t likely come as a surprise to you! If you want to meet the expectations of today’s givers, you must be able to communicate impact.
Questions to consider: How are you measuring generosity? Do you just track giving or do you look at giving in concert with other markers (volunteering, community service, etc.)?
- Recognize life change with generous people.
The easiest way to encourage someone to give to your church is to communicate the life change people are experiencing from your ministry. This is an advantage the church has over other nonprofits. While donors can feel good about giving to other charities, it’s at your church that people’s lives are truly changing.
Questions to consider: Are you celebrating the results of generosity? Do you share stories that connect to people’s generosity? How often?
- Generous people want to see the organizations they support thrive, not merely survive.
Generous people want to see areas of ministry thriving. While your church may be doing everything it can to simply survive the lack of giving, we all know that a thriving ministry can still exist despite a lack of resources. It might take some creativity on your part, but showcasing areas within your church that are thriving because of the ministry you’re doing is a crucial way to encourage generous people to support your vision financially.
Questions to consider: Despite any financial issues, how is your church thriving in your community? How are you communicating those highlights with the generous people in your church?
Cultivating stewardship isn’t just about finances. Effectively motivating generous people in your church to give must happen in the entire context of your ministry, not just in the area of stewardship.
How are you cultivating generosity within the context of your entire ministry? What is some tangible advice you would give to another church leader who might be struggling to encourage generous people to give?