In their book Contagious Generosity, Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard state, “generosity is at its core is a lifestyle, a lifestyle in which we share all that we have, are, and ever will become as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace.” We serve a gracious and generous God. It should be only natural that every Christian have an attitude of generosity in all areas of life. Sadly, though, whether due to a shying away from financial matters or a fear of being seen as self-serving, this topic is not often discussed by church leadership. How can church leaders help bring about a culture of generosity in their church in a way that is both genuine and effective? Implementing these three practices is a great place to start:
- TEACH IT – As Baptists, teaching is important in the life of our church, and it’s the main focus of Sunday school and Bible studies. It is a part of our DNA to help us understand God’s Word and apply it our daily lives. Knowing that more than 2000 verses in the Bible concern money and finances, we need to teach what God’s Word says so we can make life changes in how we handle money. This will allow us to become better stewards and give us the freedom to be more generous with the material blessings God has given each one of us.
- TELL IT – They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I believe a story is better than 100 sermons! Stories come from our life experience, and we are able to share these to encourage others. We need to have members share their stories to show the impact of how generosity is making a Kingdom Impact, and not only that, but how they have been blessed to be the instrument of God’s love and grace. It is a way for members to grow in their own discipleship.
- PRAISE IT – Too often in the church, we do not say “thank you” as much as we should. Many of the secular nonprofits do a better job in donor relations than the church. We need to cultivate gratitude as well as generosity. Sending notes, emails and even, when warranted, a public expression of gratitude will foster more generosity in your congregation. In an age where everything we see focuses on “what’s in it for me,” gratitude is one of the greatest spiritual characteristics we can model for our members.
Willard and Sheppard also made this statement in their book about generosity:
“Generosity, when motivated by genuine love for God, is contagious, drawing others to wonder why people would give of themselves while expecting nothing in return. In fact, a life and a church community that is characterized by generosity may be the most compelling, effective evangelism strategy we have as followers of Christ.”
That is the type of lifestyle we should encourage within our congregations.