Creating a Culture of Generosity

If you are going to grow a church significantly one of the skills you are going to need is to learn how to create and shape the culture of your organization. When we speak about culture, we are referring to an organization’s “values, beliefs, and behaviors. In general, it is concerned with beliefs and values on the basis of which people interpret experiences and behave, individually and in groups.” (HT) Building and shaping an organizations culture is not something that happens overnight, it takes time, relentless focus, consistent practices and inspirational leadership.

So how does one build a culture of generosity?

1. Pray for It!

Generosity is a spiritual issue. It is natural to hold on to things! It is supernatural to give away things. Generosity is a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Church cites the true motivation for the overwhelming generosity of the believers in Macedonia, “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (II Corinthians 8:5). When the Lord truly has our hearts, then he has our possessions. Asking our generous God to reign in the hearts of our people is the first act a leader needs to take in building a culture of generosity.

2. Model It!

Leaders set the pace of an organization. One of the nine prayers of a missional leader is “Father pour out a generous spirit in my life.” Generosity is a fruit of the spirit. Paul lists kindness as one of the by-products of being in step with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Like the word love (agape), kindness (chrestotes) is closely related to hesed in the Old Testament, which stands for God’s covenant love. Commenting on hesed, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says, “loving-kindness — is not far from the fullness of the meaning of the word.” (HT) So loving-kindness is the practical out workings of love in our lives. Thus we have the biblical definition of generosity. As a leader am I generous with my time, my words and my resources and how is my family, leaders and church witnessing that in my life? Generous living leads to generous giving.

3. Teach It!

Teaching generosity principles is critical to the spiritual formation of an individual and for a church, yet we shy away from teaching these financial principles. Brian Kluth writes, “We need to teach people to be faithful givers, not because the budget says so, but because the Bible says so. Our focus needs to be to teach people to be faithful givers to God, not to the church budget. Our goal is that our people please God, not the church finance committee. Church budgets are spending plans, not the giving goal. It is the Scriptures (all 2,350 verses on finances, generosity, and material possessions) that will help people become faithful stewards and givers.” (HT) I would add to this that we help them to be better lovers of God and followers of Jesus. Over 20 years ago, I did my first series on giving. I was afraid, timid and concerned that everyone was going to leave my church because I said that dreaded word in church: MONEY! The surprising thing was that many people began to experience the liberating joy of knowing Jesus. When I go back to my first church, many people comment on that sermon series and the impact it had on their lives.

4. Reinforce It!

Learning to say thank-you well is one of the ways for reinforcing position behavior. Expressing thanks is not optional for believers. Paul’s letters are filled with gratitude on many levels, even for financial support (Philippians 4:14-18). Your people deserve to have their generosity acknowledged for several reasons:

To know that you received their gift, especially for first time givers.
To know how their gift is being used, this is a vision casting opportunity.
To reinforce your relationship with them.
And finally, to reinforce the work of God in their lives. Generosity is a by-product of the work of God in people’s hearts.

5. Celebrate It!

Vince Lombardi once said, “Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale.” Celebrations have a great way of keeping churches and organizations mentally alert. In Encouraging the Heart, James Kouzes & Barry Posner write, “Celebrations—public statements by their very nature—give expression to and reinforce commitment to key values. They visibly demonstrate that the organization is serious about adhering to its principles. So it is important to be clear about the statements you’re making. What are you reinforcing? What are you saying is significant about this moment? Parties are fine, but celebrations are more than parties. They’re ceremonies and rituals that create meaning. When planning a celebration, every leader should ask, ‘What meaning am I trying to create?’ Public ceremonies crystallize personal commitments, binding people together and letting them know they’re not alone.”

Someone once said, “You are what you celebrate!”

Reflective Questions:

How often do you pray for a spirit of generosity to fall upon the hearts of your people?
How are you and your leaders becoming models of generosity?
How is generosity being taught throughout the church? In public worship services, affinity gatherings, small groups and one-on-one mentoring?
How are you specifically reinforcing vision, generosity principles and the generous acts of individuals with in your church?
How strategic are you in planning and creating the celebration of generosity within your church?

The Number One Reason We Are Sold Out for Church Planting

I am passionate about church planting for a number of reasons:

  • Church Planting is the main vehicle for expressing God’s mission.
  • Church Planting is a key strategy in fulfilling Jesus’ great commission.
  • Church Planting is the most effective means for making disciples.
  • Church Planting is necessary for the transforming of cultures and societies.
  • Church Planting is the most cost efficient means of evangelism.
  • Church Planting is critical to establishing ongoing mission posts throughout the world.
  • Church Planting is a natural by-product of a healthy church.
  • Church Planting is needed for the survival of the church in America. 

Every one of these reasons motivates me in some way or another, but the number one reason church planting inflames my heart is because God has captured my heart. God revealed his truth about his Son deep within my soul over 34 years ago and continues to reveal himself to me every day. I am passionate about church planting because I am passionate about God. Because I am zealous about God, all I want to do is to be a part of what he is doing in this world.  If God is on a mission I want to be on a mission. If God chose another vehicle for fulfilling his purpose throughout the world, I would be just as passionate about that vehicle.  

One of the foundational motivations for church planting is the glory of God. One author describes the glory of God as the afterglow of God’s holiness. Because man cannot stand in the presence of a holy God, God gives a glimpse of himself through his glory and through his supreme plan chose to use the church as his chief instrument whereby his glory is manifested throughout the world today. Three times in Ephesians 1:3-14 we see the phrase “the praise of his glory” 

“…to the praise of his glorious grace…” vs. 6 

“…might be for the praise of his glory…” vs. 12 

“…to the praise of his glory.” vs. 14 

Through the church, whether in a primitive village in Papua New Guinea or the rural hamlets in Eastern Europe or the mega churches in the sprawling suburbs of major cities in America, they all have one thing is common…they are bringing praise to the glory of our God. 

We also see in Ephesians 3:10 that this is not just limited to God’s mission here on earth, but that through the church God chooses to reveal his glorious wisdom throughout the entire spiritual realm. 

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rules and authorities in the heavenly realms.”  (Eph. 3:10 NIV) 

Therefore, the planting of new healthy churches is a means of seeing God’s glory spread throughout the earth.  John Piper in his book “Let the Nations be Glad!” reflects on the significance of God’s glory in relationship to all missionary endeavors. 

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”  (pg 17) 

“Worship, therefore, is the fuel and the goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. ‘The LORD reigns, let the earth, rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!’ (Ps. 97:1). ‘Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!’” (Ps. 67:3–4).  (pg 17) 

Every new church planted is a new lighthouse of God’s glory where the afterglow of God’s holiness is reflected, manifested and ultimately enjoyed! 

Let our passion for church planting be driven by a passion for God!  May our zeal for church planting be consumed by a zeal for the glory of God!  

The glory of God is not only the motivation but the goal of God’s sovereign work among men. There is no more majestic theme, no more noble pursuit than the glory of God.

  • Moses’ highest ambition and most noble request was to see the glory of God (Exodus 33:17–18:8).
  • The first coming of Christ was a display of the glory of God (John 1:14; see also Matthew 16:27–17:8).
  • The Apostle Paul was encouraged and sustained by his awareness of God’s glory (see 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; 4:3-6, 16-18).
  • The apostle Peter found the revelation of the “Majestic Glory” of our Lord a witness to the truthfulness of the prophetic word revealed through the apostles (2 Peter 1:16-19).
  • Our Lord’s second coming will be a revelation of His glory, and the cause for the saints’ rejoicing (1 Peter 4:12-13).
  • Every supreme goal of our every action is the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). (HT

At Converge MidAmerica we are sold out to church planting for the #1 reason, because we are sold out to God and his glory! 

“To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

All In Resolution

Are You All In?

6 Tips for a Year-End Offering

December is the largest giving month for most churches and non-profit organizations.  Early in my ministry, I learned that most non-profits see 25% of their giving revenue come in during the last month of the year.  I thought, “Wow. We must be doing really well our giving is spread out pretty much evenly across the year.” Then I realized that we were missing an opportunity to expand our vision, increase our giving units and unleash a spirit of generosity.

 

1. Start earlier.

Start earlier so that you can get your administration team excited about this opportunity to cast a meaningful vision and create an opportunity to expand the churches giving. Start earlier so that you can capitalize on individuals’ year-end giving planning. One thing I realized is that those who make large contributions to non-profits typically make their year-end giving decision in November. 

 

2. Pick your 3 giving projects.

This is an opportunity to share your church’s giving is impacting your community and people outside your church and around the world. We encourage you to pick one that will enhance your local ministry and two that will expand your vision for church planting and world missions.

A few years ago one of our church planters had three projects:

  • Local Evangelism (they expanded their evangelism budget significantly)
  • Regional Church Planting (they blessed Converge MidAmerica’s matching grant fund)
  • World Missions (they raised a full year of support for a missionary who came out of their church)

 

3. Develop a communication plan.

 

November

  • Three November Notices before Thanksgiving
       – One mailed letter from Pastor with a giving envelop 
       – E-Newsletters pointing to online giving
       – Build a Year-end giving webpage and use a Facebook and Twitter Campaign         
         to drive people to the website
  • One Announcement in the bulletin and from the pulpit on the Sunday before Thanksgiving 

 

December

  • First Sunday – Promote Project #1 through a video/personal testimony
  • E-Newsletter – Promote Project #1 – pointing to website/online giving
  • Second Sunday – Promote Project #2 through a video/personal testimony
  • E-Newsletter – Promote Project #2 – pointing to website/online giving
  • Third Sunday – Promote Project #3 through a video/personal testimony
  • E-Newsletter – Promote Project #3 – pointing to website/online giving
  • Christmas-Eve Services – Include a brochure highlighting all three projects with a special giving envelop after Christmas
       – Send out email-blast celebrating the progress and inviting people to give
       – Send out one last appeal on December 31st

 

January

  • Announce the results via pulpit, e-news and letters
  • Send thank you notes to all who participated
  • Share the “thank yous” you have received from the organizations that were touched through the campaign

 

4. Celebrate progress.

Saying thank you well is critical to the health of any ministry.  It is important for you to say thank you personally to individuals and publically through updates.

Here are a few things to celebrate:

  • Amount given
  • Impact the funds are making 
  • Number of families giving to the campaign
  • Number of first time givers to the church as a result of the campaign

 

5. Push it to the very end of the year.

Send out updates and appeal emails up to December 31st. One article cited that 22% of all donations to charities occur the last two days of the year!  They even go so far as encouraging ministries to send out one last appeal on December 31st at 2 PM EST. Why then? Studies have shown that 2 PM EST is the most effective time for an email donation request. HT

 

6. Embrace the benefits

  • Number #1 – God is blessed through our giving  
  • Number #2 – Those who give are blessed in participating (Both individuals and churches)
  • Number #3 – Lives will be impacted for eternity
  • Number #4 – The church’s vision will be expanded and celebrated
  • Number #5 – The church will discover first-time givers through this process 

 

Conclusion:

Remember there is a difference between a last minute appeal and an emergency appeal. Emergency appeals are understandable just by the nature of them, but last minute appeals always feel last minute!  If this is important, then take the time to make your year-end giving campaign feel important, special and needed.  

 

Reflective Questions:

  • Who can help you in planning and executing your year-end giving campaign?
  • What percentage of your offering comes in during the month of December?
  • What ministry in your church needs a boost of funding?
  • What regional partners can you bless and recognize though this offering?
  • What world mission partners could you bless and recognize though this offering?

 

Additional Materials

Four Ways to Boost Year-End Giving

4 Steps to Increasing End of Year Giving

6 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Year-End Giving