A lot of times, when we think about generosity, we’re thinking about how we can get more people to give to our church. Let’s think bigger than that: how do you get your people to become more generous, in general?
The best time to start developing a culture of generosity is before Christmas and during Thanksgiving. This is when people are primed to think about generosity, but they aren’t filled with money-related remorse from spending all their money on extravagant gifts. It’s the perfect time to harness the spirit of the season to help foster generosity in the hearts and minds of the people in your church.
To teach generosity well, you’ll need to talk about it everywhere. Let’s start with your sermon series.
The best place to begin teaching on generosity is with a sermon series. You want to pick a series that deals with the topic of generosity in a Biblical manner. Something we love about our generosity sermon series at Ministry Pass is that we start with the questions, “What do we have to be thankful for? What have we been given?” The answer? Jesus. We’ve been given Jesus.
Then, the second part of the series talks about what our response to the gift of Jesus should be to the people around us. In the parable of the ungrateful servant, the servant didn’t respond with forgiveness and generosity because he didn’t understand how much had been forgiven on his account. Help your people grasp what they have been given, so they will give that to other people. Here are some of our series that will help you do just that:
Basically, your sermon series should help you say: because we’re thankful for what God has done for us, how does that affect our lives?
If you want your people to live generously, create something they can rally around. You don’t necessarily have to focus on a monetary goal. Whether you’re partnering with a local nonprofit, doing a food or blood drive, it doesn’t matter. The important part is that you’re putting something in front of your people that helps your focus your efforts and encourages them to be generous.
Do a little mini-campaign- set a goal, create a theme! Create something that your people can rally around. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a monetary goal.
There are so many ways you can do this:
To do this, you’ll want to organize a mini-campaign. Set a goal and create a theme around your campaign, then plug it in your sermon as a way for people to act on what they’re learning. A great example of this is Andy Stanley and North Point Church’s “Be Rich” campaign. However, you don’t have to do something on that scale- just pick a theme, pick something to support, and have everyone move toward that goal or event.
Talking about annual reports might sound stuffy or boring, but that doesn’t have to be the case. When you’re thinking about using it to communicate the importance of generosity, it changes your annual report from a list of numbers and figures to a series of names, faces, and stories of how God is changing lives. So, when you do your annual report at the end of the year, include what money has been taken out, and what’s gone into your budget- of course! But also include statistics that convey spiritual significance, like the number of baptisms you’ve had this year.
Finally, take is a step further by those stories of life change. People are encouraged and inspired by stories, and it will allow you to showcase everything God has done because of people’s generosity. It might sound boring, but it’s one thing that you can do to make a HUGE impact on people’s perception of why their giving matters.
To teach generosity that’s based on thankfulness and not guilt, you need to create the culture where you’re speaking to people as if they’re already being generous. Say, “Hey! We have high ideals here. Let’s meet those ideals” instead of guilting people into giving because your budget is low. Generosity isn’t something you should only be talking about when the church needs money, it’s a lifestyle that followers of Jesus need to cultivate.
Ultimately, it comes back to, “What has God given us through Christ?” Although we have been given so much grace, it’s easy to forget what God has done for us- and as pastors, it’s really important we keep reminding people of that.
On that note, when you’re sharing stories, don’t only showcase the stories of people who made a big donation at your church. It’s great when people see a need and step up, but we know that God works through even small acts of generosity, such as paying for a stranger’s groceries or Starbucks. Generosity is more than tithing. You want people to be generous wherever they are, so don’t be self-serving with all the stories that you share.
One last tip: if you’re not sure how to tie these stories in, make sure you’re covering them at both the beginning of your sermon series and the end. When you incorporate them at the beginning, you’re starting out by saying, “Here are some people we’ve already supported, and we want to do more!” Michael from our team was great at this when he was on the mission field- by sharing stories and photos, we felt like we were part of what God was doing halfway across the world! Then, after people have been listening and learning, tie in the results of your generosity campaign and the stories of people who were affected, so that your people understand what God has done through their generosity.
If you’re ready to leverage the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, you’re going to have to have a plan for it. Good news! We’ve recently released our preaching calendars on Ministry Pass! Here are the options for 2021:
If you check out our calendars, you’ll notice that we want to help you do what we’ve been talking about today! When we plan them out, we are trying to leverage the seasons and to help you leverage the seasons.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this, too! How do you encourage a culture of generosity at your church? Leave a comment on our Youtube video, and be sure to like and subscribe so you never miss an episode!