According to Barna's Weekly Pastor Poll, 40% of churches have reported a decline in giving since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
While we rely on generosity to balance the budget, it’s important to remember the generosity is also an important part of spiritual formation. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing, and that calling falls on the shoulders of all of us. We are a conduit of God’s blessing.
But unlike acts of service like volunteering or making a meal for someone in need, generosity often strikes a different tone and carries its own unique baggage. Which makes engaging our members in generosity an act that requires thought, tact, and intentionality.
Services will continue to look different, even as we start re-opening. So how are other churches engaging their members around generosity? Let’s take a look at the three great examples we found.
Remind your church that generosity is spiritual. The Village Church recites this Generosity Prayer at each of their services as a continual reminder that everything we have does not belong to us.
Holy Father, there is nothing we have that You have not given us.
All we have and all we are belong to You, bought with the blood of Jesus.
To spend selfishly and to give without sacrifice
is the way of the world,
but generosity is the way of those who call Christ their Lord.
So, help us to increase in generosity
until it can be said that there is no needy person among us.
Help us to be trustworthy with such a little thing as money
that You may trust us with true riches.
Above all, help us to be generous
because You, Father, are generous.
May we show what You are like to all the world.
Best Practice #1: Framing generosity as a vehicle for spiritual growth not only helps remove the baggage associated with generosity, but serves as a reminder that being generous doesn’t just help our community, but it also helps us.
The Special Olympics is a partner of Liquid Church, and its members provided both volunteer and financial support for a local event in New Jersey. Liquid Church shot a video of the Special Olympics video director saying “Thank You” for their generosity and sharing the effect it has had on the organization.
Sharing stories and outcomes are often more effective than just asking people to give.
Don’t just ask, inspire.
Best Practice #2: Transparency matters. When you share specific updates about how your member’s generosity isn’t just going to your church but through your church, you create a clear flow of finances that communicates a culture of transparency, which in turn builds trust.
Bobby Williams at the Ridge Church sent this email to the 29% of people that gave more than 4 times in the past year to tell them they are a part of the “29 club”. While the club doesn’t actually exist, it reminds members that regular givers are not the norm, their generosity is important, and their giving is a habit worth keeping.
Best Practice #3: As we talked about in our article on The 5 Money Shifts Every Church Should Make, the very first thing you should do if you want more people to engage in giving to your church is develop a robust strategy of care for your existing donors.
Regularly acknowledge and encourage your members who are faithfully giving. When a football player makes a touchdown, the crowd cheers him on. We all need to be cheered on from time to time, especially when we’re actively pushing against cultural norms and practicing spiritual disciplines.
A part of that strategy needs to include communicating fiscal responsibility, corporate generosity, and your church’s recurring giving.
On a recent webinar, we talked in depth about what these look like, why they matter, and how to implement them.
The strategy of communicating generosity, and the motivations behind generosity, continues to shift with time and with culture. That constant change will never go away, so be intentional about focusing on what is effective now, and not just what you’ve always done.
Whether you’re sending encouraging emails, creating opportunities to practice generosity, or sharing stories, keep generosity as a major narrative in your church to create a culture of generosity.
If you want more ideas and tools on equipping your church to invite, we have a free resource called The Senior Pastor's Guide. This insanely practical resource is filled with ideas, examples, and principles to help you lead your church to healthy growth.
There's a section on reaching new people, which is great to inspire ideas or share with your team. Download this free resource here.