Take The Awkward Out Of the Giving Conversation
Written By Jim Sheppard, Generis CEO + Principal
Money and the Church have a . . . complicated . . . relationship. The two aren’t often talked about in open, transparent settings. And sometimes, when the two are talked about together, the conversation is fraught with tension, misunderstanding, and judgment.
However, the money/church conversation must be held regularly and openly if you want your church to affect change locally and globally. You know that part in the Bible where it talks about being the body of Christ and each member has a part to play? God means it.
Giving is a heart issue. And spending is also a heart issue. Have you heard this cliché? “Show me your bank statement, and I’ll show you what you love.” Giving is a matter of your community’s heart. And spending is a matter of the church’s heart.
When a church focuses on developing its community and its leadership around using money wisely, thoughtfully, and impactfully, then God’s kingdom advances in meaningful ways.
But how do we get there—to where giving is a natural out-flow of the heart?
There are five areas where I would recommend we start.
- Regularly Teach Biblical Generosity – The senior leader must teach on generosity and stewardship on a regular basis, making it a part of the messaging of your church. A series every now and then is helpful, but there are other ways to keep the generosity message in front of your community. For example, when generosity comes up in the text of a passage you are using to make another point, take time to cover the generosity point in the text.
Perhaps the single best way to teach regularly is through the offering moment. The few minutes before you receive the offering in service each week is a key time to teach on the importance of what is happening.
- Model Generosity, In Your Own Life and In Others – For people who aren’t faithful givers, they don’t know what generous living looks like. Share examples of people who have seen transformation in their own lives when it comes to giving. Seeing the journey of someone else accomplishes both.
The key to using examples of giving is to be careful about the motive in making the example public. Give credit to God for the increase in your heart’s capacity to give. That’s the real story here!
- Celebrate Mission Advancement – This is probably the most overlooked element of encouraging generosity: call attention to victories in mission advancement due to giving.
Think of a time when you made a significant appeal to the people of your church and they rose up and met it. Did you celebrate it? I don’t mean patting yourselves on the back and congratulating each other, I mean giving thanks to God for the move of His Spirit among your people, and the response of obedience in His people.
- Make Generosity a Priority, a Mark of Discipleship – Values get prioritized. Many times, the values a church establishes are connected to marks of discipleship. Prayer, service, leading, and Bible study are frequently on the list of things a church considers the marks of discipleship.
Did you notice which one is not in the list? Giving and generosity. Maybe church leaders just assume if you do the other things, you will be a generous giver. This is not a good strategy.
It doesn’t just happen. It has to be specifically addressed. Making generosity one of the church’s marks of discipleship is a way to ensure that it happens.
- Have a Generosity "Champion" at the table with your lead team – This “Champion” is a voice on your team who makes sure generosity and giving are prioritized.
It is easy for giving and generosity to take a back seat to other priorities church leaders are addressing at any given time. This is understandable when something really pressing comes along, but it should be the exception, not the norm.
Generosity should be like a thread that is woven into the fabric of the church. Not siloed, but owned by every leader on the team.
A Generosity Champion, whether a staff member or a key lay person, will keep it on the table at all times.
Given that we are well aware that conversations around money and the church are awkward, which of these recommendations will be the easiest for you to implement? Which one will be the easiest, and likely something that you can incorporate into your church community this week?
Talking about giving and generosity is too important to the kingdom of God to be overlooked and spoken of in hushed tones. Take action on these recommendations and see your ministry flourish.
Ready to zap the awkward out of the giving conversation at your church?
Our team of Generosity Strategist has been helping churches do this for years.
We’d love to offer you a free strategy session about how you can build a culture that embraces generosity like never before.
Normalize the giving conversation in your church and accelerate greater generosity towards your God-inspired vision starting today!