You Asked For It – 3 Steps to Creating a Culture of Generosity

Leadership // March 23, 2015

As we continue in this string of “You Asked For It” blog posts, we visit a topic today that could apply to any church anywhere: creating a culture of generosity.

This is our second post in a series of questions raised by pastors across the country through a survey I sent out late last year. (In case you missed the first post about encouraging generosity outside the offering moment, you can easily catch up.)

So, without further ado, here’s today’s question:

If we want to create a greater culture of generosity in our church, where do we begin?

Fantastic question. But before discussing where you want to go, it’s important to first determine where you are. Here are three steps to take to begin the process of creating a greater culture of generosity in your church.

Determine your current giving metrics. Once you know what your metrics are, you can continue to measure those specific things to see how your new generosity strategies are working as time goes on. A few metrics to consider monitoring include:

  • number of new givers per month
  • number of lapsed givers per month
  • giving churn – a ratio of new vs. lapsed givers – what’s your “net”?
  • median income – number of families giving a tithe based on the median income of their zip code
  • giving per attendee
  • % of total dollars given electronically

This is not a complete list, but a basic one to get you started. You will likely have other metrics important to your demographic context that you’ll choose to measure.

(Not sure where to start with a giving analysis? I have a terrific solution for you at the end of this post!)

Next, you’ll want to define your giving philosophy. You may already have this in place (most churches do), but – do your people know what it is? What beliefs do you hold regarding giving and stewardship? What giving language do you use? Do you teach the tithe? What is most important to your church in the realm of giving? What are some non-negotiables for you in this area? What scripture do you reference to support your stance in the area of giving?

Ask these and other questions to your executive leadership team, elders and deacons, and perhaps small group leaders too. You’ll be surprised at the wide variety of answers you hear, which will only reinforce the importance of establishing and promoting your giving philosophy.

Now turn your focus to the creation of a development calendar. This is where we start looking forward and taking action! Create an annual timeline that defines a plan for promoting a strong generosity culture. Some things you will want to include on your annual calendar are:

  • weekly offering introductions – who is writing it, and who is delivering it in worship.
  • monthly giving updates – in your worship bulletin, newsletter, and more on a monthly basis.
  • sermon series – at least two series per year on generosity that’s not driven by a campaign of any sort – simply the discipleship of giving taught from the platform on a regular, semi-annual basis.
  • small group engagement – small group studies on generosity at least once per year (and twice per year if your church consistently does sermon-based studies – because you will be preaching semi-annually now).
  • discipleship classes – offer generosity topics as a part of your core curriculum. There are some excellent studies you can incorporate.
  • giving stories – these can be part of an offering introduction and used in other ways also. Plan at least one per quarter. It’s best to do these via video so you can post them on your website and social media channels.
  • giving statements and annual report – generate and send quarterly giving statements with a bright and colorful cover letter of ministry successes from the past quarter. Also plan on producing an annual report for delivery in January.
  • staff meetings – make generosity a part of each staff meeting and encourage the sharing of stories from different ministry areas. Encourage your staff to talk about how they have seen the value of generosity lived out in your church and/or their ministry area during the past week or month.

An important note on the development calendar: someone on your staff must be held accountable for following through with the items on the new calendar. Be sure to add it to their job description. Not that this person necessarily would be “doing” the work, but he or she would be responsible for making sure things are planned and carried out per the calendar you now have in place. This makes generosity development a core focus going forward.

Keep in mind, the goal of this calendar is to help create a greater culture of generosity in your church. Generosity must be woven into every ministry area throughout the year in order to truly make a cultural shift. Generosity must be woven into every ministry area in order to truly make a cultural shift. Click To Tweet

Stay tuned for my next post on Generosity Matters as I continue to answer questions from pastors across the country. Do you have a question to ask? Send me a quick email – I’d love to help you!

Looking for an easy solution to conduct your giving analysis I promised above? Ask me to conduct a completely FREE giving analysis for you! During a one-hour video analysis using your very own church’s data and an amazing tool called Insights by Generis, powered by MortarStone, you will discover your church’s giving potential (and a literal host of other valuable things). You’ll be amazed at what we can uncover together!

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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