How to Engage and Encourage Generosity in Millennials In a Digital Age
The digital age we’re in is making it possible for the Church to do things it has never been able to do before to reach people it hasn’t been able to reach before now—and that’s amazing. Simple things like Instagram or social media engagement, digital encouragement, giving apps like Pushpay, and podcasts can help people feel connected and make it so much easier to be involved in the Church. Connection leads to involvement, which ultimately leads to someone being generous with their whole life—with their time, skills, and finances.
But, depending on the major demographic of your church, you may have a lot of young professionals, millennials, young families, or others who want to be generous, but may assume that giving money is the only way for them to be generous when that’s not the case.
They might be asking themselves the question that could cause shame or guilt: What if I don’t have a lot of money to give?
Here’s a couple of ideas about how to engage a millennial demographic and encourage generosity of all forms:
1. Stories are powerful
It’s human nature to find stories compelling. Scripture is the best evidence of this, with Jesus gently and patiently teaching through parables. Christian musician, author, and artist Andrew Peterson says,
“If you want someone to hear the truth, tell them the truth. But if you want someone to LOVE the truth, tell them a story.”
This is an excellent and practical starting place for cultivating a culture of generosity, big and small. Seek out the stories in your organization or church that tell of God’s faithfulness or His provision. At Vanderbloemen, we call these “God stories”—joy as evidence of revival in the heart, redemption, and faithfulness of God to His people. Tell them on social media, and as a regular part of staff meetings and organizational rhythms. Use them in giving campaigns; put a purpose or a face to where time or efforts or finances are going to.
As you seek to engage all members of your organization or church, regardless of age, but especially for millennials who are motivated and driven by causes, know that understanding the purpose and the “why” makes it much more compelling and easier to give.
2. The church is a people to belong to, not an event to attend
In addition to stories, connection is powerful. Remind millennials that the church is a family and a community to be a part of, not just a place they go to on Sundays or a line in their budget. The administrators of the church budget understand that seasons may come and go where people can give more or less, or not at all. But worrying that your church involvement is diminished because of how much you can give—or because you don’t know how—only invites shame and guilt into something that should bring joy and contentment.
Connection plays a powerful role in shaping perspective, which then gently molds hearts, helping people to grow into generous and faithful Christians who deeply love the Church. Of course, there will always be those who are able to give financially, and that is a grace and a gift. But for those who can’t give or don’t have as much to give, a perspective that no matter what they can give, they are part of a family is one that will cultivate generous spirits.
3. Small steps of obedience lead to great acts of God
Get creative about how you can encourage people to give. No gift is too small, and small steps of obedience add up quickly. It might look like giving up a coffee once a week and putting that money towards a monthly gift, or buying supplies for military care packages or greeting cards for a shut-in ministry. There are so many ways that someone can be generous—whether that is giving $5 to $10 in gifts or volunteering their time and skills to ministries or service.
Aside from that, make it easy. Consider adding a giving box at the back of the sanctuary where people can anonymously drop in a gift without having to pass the plate along without dropping it in. Or consider using a service like Pushpay, where a giving app makes the process easy and simple and allows people time to sit down with their finances and think through what they can or want to give.
Be sure to emphasize ways to serve, volunteer time and skills, and opportunities to purchase items that will go to a ministry if it’s applicable. Someone may not be able to commit to a monthly gift, but a one-time donation or purchase of something will benefit both the giver and the recipient.
Making ideas for “small steps” accessible makes the idea of giving less intimidating and eliminates shame and guilt about money and the church. God will do great things through the small, faithful, everyday things!
Technology and social media have changed the landscape of the church in ways that will help it grow in new ways and reach new people for the gospel that it hasn’t been able to before. A few perspective shifts, whether you’re on a church staff, organization staff, or simply a member of a ministry or church, will both challenge and encourage you in generosity!