A Grateful Response to God
In over four decades of ordained ministry, including over thirty years as a stewardship consultant, I have developed a deep passion for helping churches create a culture of generosity. Many churches struggle to fund the ministry to which they are called, and others find themselves lacking the spiritual energy that comes from prayerful, grateful and faithful stewardship. The answer to both of these difficulties is to build a culture of generosity.
I have found the best way to encourage a culture of generosity is through an annual or capital campaign. Too often campaigns are built around the needs of the church rather than focusing on the Biblical principles of stewardship. However, when offered as an opportunity to experience a spiritual journey, both processes will lead to an ongoing generosity movement within the church.
Successful stewardship campaigns promote cheerful giving from a grateful heart. Scripture tells us gifts should not be made from compulsion or obligation, but out of thanksgiving for all of God’s blessings. (2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.) The journey of stewardship is for each individual to discover what God’s will is for life’s blessings, financial and others, and live into God’s will rather than their own. As people begin to understand themselves as stewards of God’s abundant gifts, they no longer see themselves as giving to “a budget” but rather giving in grateful response to God.
To create (or sustain) a spirit of generosity, clergy and lay leaders must be willing to model generosity in their own giving. Church leadership must express their enthusiasm and support for the mission and ministries of the church as well as their intended financial commitments. Only when church leaders truly lead will trust and credibility be established. As the congregation witnesses their leaders giving joyfully, gratefully and substantially, it becomes contagious and the culture begins to shift from “scarcity” to “abundance.” Instead of giving because the church needs to meet the budget, people will begin to give generously out of love and gratitude to God.