5 Practical Ways to Make Generosity a Priority in 2020
New Opportunities for Generosity
Each new year brings with it the opportunity for new beginnings. The courage to let go of the familiar and reach for the possibilities that reside in your future is the key to growth. It’s almost always our unwillingness to let go of good ideas and grab hold of great ideas that allow us to achieve things we never thought possible.
If there is one area in your ministry where you can radically shift the culture of your church, it’s in the area of generosity. If you are successful in helping people move from a me-centered lifestyle to an other-centered lifestyle, it will completely transform how others see the people around them and their relationships to them.
One of the most common misconceptions about generosity is that it is only about money. Money is merely an external reality of an internal commitment that has already taken place. You don’t give money to become generous. You are generous, so you are willing to give—your time, talent, testimony, and treasure.
But no culture shift takes place by accident. There are some very specific actions you can take to make generosity a priority in 2020.
Five Practical Ideas to Consider
Step One: Conduct a “State of the Church” address before the end of January.
Talk about your ministry impact in 2019, share stories of life change, and review your ministry plan goals for the new year. Be sure to include pictures, videos, and other visual media as you are able. Some people are more visual and concrete in their thinking while other may be conceptual and cerebral. One is not better than the other. It’s just something to be mindful of as you plan your communication efforts.
And don’t just say it once. Use social media, email, direct mail, and video to capture these impact moments and life change stories, so you can share them again and again. A side benefit is that you’ll equip every person in the pew to share what God is doing in your church with people in their sphere of influence.
Step Two: Make recurring giving a priority this year.
I know this doesn’t sound inspirational, but this step will make it easier for people to be faithful in their giving whether or not they are able to attend weekend services. Statistics continue to reinforce that attending weekend services is growing more intermittent, even among the most faithful. The recurring giving option fits the lifestyle so many are adopting and, most importantly, is consistent with how people are paid—electronically.
There are many ways to accomplish this and many great tools available. And if your church still uses offering envelopes, you can even add a box to check that says, “I give online!” to ensure everyone can still participate in the offertory experience. A side benefit for the church is more predictable cash flow that allows for better ministry planning.
Everyone wins when recurring giving is a priority.
Step Three: Include generosity as a core value and discipline in your new member and discipleship programs.
The most generous churches across the country are overt and consistent in their teaching about generosity. They state boldly that giving is part of the discipleship journey and is something they practice and want for everyone. I love how one pastor put it, “Giving is not something we want from you, but what God wants for you.” Wow! That really changes the perspective.
You can do this by incorporating generosity as part of your discipleship pathway. Put it in writing along with your other expectations such as volunteering, life groups, worship attendance, and others. By doing this, you also make it easier to incorporate generosity into your membership process.
Just like children need to learn how to read, talk, eat, and run, disciples need to learn the disciplines that, when practiced consistently, will transform us. We serve a generous God; therefore, we should be generous, too.
Step Four: Share stories of life change every Sunday during the offering talk.
Don’t waste those two to four minutes before you take the offering during your weekend services. Prepare to share a story of life change in advance. People love stories because they reinforce the value proposition that churches bring to communities and Christians alike—hope for the future.
The people in the pew care more about your church impact than programs, budgets, or buildings. That doesn’t mean those things aren’t important. They certainly are. However, everything we do as a body of believers should be focused on seeing lives changed forever. And where lives are being authentically changed, the presence of God will be felt, perceived, and known.
Step Five: Say Thank You.
No one ever gets tired of hearing thank you. The sad reality is that most people will give their largest annual gifts to their home church, yet their church will largely ignore them. It’s not that people have an expectation to be recognized. Rather, it is that their giving represents what God is doing in and through them.
That’s something they want to celebrate. So, as church leaders, let’s be sure and celebrate with them by recognizing their gift through a personal note, a phone call, a home visit, or whatever you determine is appropriate. Have a “thank you” plan for new givers, faithful givers, and exceptionally generous givers.
One way you can say thank you is by reminding givers throughout the year that their gifts are making a difference. Highlight stories that demonstrate how their generosity is making a difference. And when you can, make it personal, direct, and specific.
More Disciples, More Ministry
These are only five ways. There are countless others. But if you’ll take the time to make these a priority in 2020, you will see an increase in energy, commitment, and giving. And, most importantly, you’ll see more lives changed than you ever thought possible.
A shift in the giving culture of your church means more disciples and more ministry. And those two things aligned will change the tenor of conversation at the leadership table from, “What do we have to do to survive?” to “What is God calling us to do next?” And that changes everything.
Do you want access to more practical tools to help you cultivate a culture of generosity in your church in 2020? Visit our Giving365 resource center. Click here to request a free 20 minute consultation by a Horizons Ministry Strategist about how your church can increase ministry funding and improve discipleship through a process we call Next Level Generosity.