Inviting Generosity – Giving Beyond the Needs of the Church
Actual overheard conversation #1 from one man to another: “You should join the Lion’s Club. We really need you to help us with our projects.”
Actual overheard conversation #2 from an older church member to a first-time visitor in her 20’s: “We need more young people. You need to join and help us save our church.”
These conversations have two items in common. First, they both speak to the need of the organization over the need of the individual to whom they were speaking. Second, though both the Lion’s Club and the church are worthy groups, neither conversation resulted in a positive response from the one being invited to join.
The lesson? People are unlikely to be motivated by your need, or by the needs of the organization you represent, even if that is the church. Too often, however, this is the approach that people who are committed to those organizations use to invite, entice and encourage others to join. The most effective way to invite someone? Speak to their need and how becoming a part will make a difference in their own life. For example, highlight the value of connecting with other business leaders through the Lion’s Club. Discuss the advantages of building relationships with people who also care about the community and about an impactful service project your organization is doing. Share a story of how your church has touched your life, connected you more closely with God, about a ministry that is making a difference, and about the lifelong relationships you’ve made.
It is the same approach we should use when talking about giving. Asking people to give because we can’t pay our bills, because the staff hasn’t had a raise in three years, or because of a financial crisis does not warm a donor’s heart! While it may help with a short-term fix, it will fail to cultivate long-term generosity. Remember to speak to the person’s need to give and to experience generosity rather than the church’s need to get.
- Share how giving has been a blessing in your life
- Share a story about a life that has been impacted and transformed through resources given to the church’s ministry
- Make sure they know that you care about them rather than seeing them as a solution to a church problem
When talking about giving, Clayton Smith (author of “Propel: Good Stewardship, Greater Generosity”) says it well: It’s not about what you want from people; it’s what you want for them.