By Mark Dance
Building a culture of generosity in a church takes a lot of intentional effort. In my three decades of pastoral experience, I’ve found there are no real secrets or shortcuts to nurturing generosity.
There are, however, a few helpful tips I’ve picked up along the way that I want to share with you.
1. Connect vision to giving.
Money flows from vision, and the lead pastor is the vision-caster. Throughout the year, focus on providing stewardship sermons and group lessons and allow faithful givers to give testimonies. This kind of vision-casting is especially useful later in the year, such as around Thanksgiving, when you can share the upcoming year’s budget and encourage year-end gifts.
Giving is not a substitute for going, but it plays an important role in advancing the gospel. Therefore, tie it to your global vision.
2. Practice generosity publicly.
You’re likely reluctant to practice generosity publicly because you don’t want to be perceived as a Pharisee who toots his own horn. Generous giving, however, is both caught and taught.
Steer away from sharing specific amounts you’ve donated or pledged, but don’t hesitate to mention percentages or personal gifts-in-kind.
Although the Pharisees gave publicly to impress people, you’re in a position to influence and inspire people. Your people will go where you go and give where you give.
Scripture shows us that kings, widows, and everyone in between inspired others with their examples of generosity.
3. Review giving data often.
Some pastors entrust the matter of financial stewardship to lay leaders or volunteer elders, which is fine as long as they’re up-to-date on the financial health of the congregation.
It’s inexcusable to use the “faith card” to plead ignorance; financial holes rarely get dug overnight. Vision casting is more fun than vision funding, but we must “manage” both our churches and homes, according to our job description (1 Timothy 3).
4. Open multiple giving channels.
Most of us still pass offering plates at church, which is absolutely fine, but some of our people prefer other options.
Janet and I, for example, pay everyone and everything online: God, government, mortgage, etc. We desire to use every modern tool at our disposal to be faithful stewards and to fulfill our financial promises.
Mobile giving has grown by 205 percent and, when done well, provides a more enjoyable experience for the giver. Online giving is available in 74 percent of churches; however, online giving only accounts for 15 percent of church income on average.
The Lifeway Generosity team just launched a brand new mobile giving app which allows any church to sign up for mobile giving for free.
Your church will be able to “turn every smartphone in the church into an offering plate and kiosk.” This new giving app enables your people to give almost anything, anywhere, and at any time.
Here are a few features of the app that got my attention:
- No set up fees. No subscription. No contracts. No kidding.
- The app can receive one-time or recurring gifts.
- It can facilitate non-cash gifts such as a car, real estate, stocks, and jewelry.
- The full online digital giving suite (not free, but reasonable) includes text-to-give and event ticketing. It also integrates with church management systems.
In addition to the free tools, there are other tiers of service which are clearly priced. Currently, Lifeway Generosity is offering all readers 90 percent off the platform.
For details of this offer, go to LifewayGenerosity.com and subscribe to the premium annual subscription. Be sure to apply the promo code: FMOffer.
On top of the giving platform, the Lifeway Generosity premium subscription also includes 100 hours of resources by leading generosity experts with training videos, sermons, small group curriculum, tools for budgeting, templated letters, and emails.
Got questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-844-647-4413.
5. Show personal appreciation.
This is pretty old school, but I believe handwritten notes of appreciation are still very powerful because they’re so personal.
Although I’ve never looked at church members’ giving records, I’ve sent personal notes expressing appreciation on behalf of our church. Donors have lots of choices, and many of our faithful tithers are leaving us one funeral at a time.
Pastor, you can create a culture of generosity in your church. Lifeway would be honored to help you do just that.