How to Nurture a Culture of Generosity at Your Church This Christmas
In the weeks and months leading up to Christmas, Americans are more inclined to be generous toward friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers. It’s part of the “holiday spirit” that Christians and non-Christians alike embrace and celebrate. And it’s why generosity-driven movements like #GivingTuesday take off.
For Christians, generosity is a reaction to God’s generosity and grace toward us, a response to Jesus’ encouragement to be stewards of what God entrusts us with, and an opportunity to grow spiritually. It’s not a seasonal activity. But many of us struggle to make it the norm in our lives.
This Christmas, your church can make an intentional effort to nurture a culture of generosity within your staff, in your congregation, and throughout your community.
Develop generosity among your staff
If you want generosity to be a bigger part of your church culture, that has to start at the top. Your staff members are some of the biggest influencers in your church, and they’re some of the most visible representations of what your church is all about. So here are some simple ways to model generosity to your staff.
1. Give them a gift
The last quarter is always the hardest on church staff. They’re under more stress, often working longer days, and likely doing a lot of work that goes unnoticed. Gifts of all shapes and sizes can be simple, thoughtful ways not just to say thank you, but to remind your staff of the power of generosity.
This could also be an opportunity for you to involve your congregation. Pushpay makes it easy to add a temporary fund so that church members can give directly to a special year-end blessing for staff. This makes collecting funds simple and offers congregants a chance to see generosity in action.
2. Offer your time
Everyone is busy during the holidays. And that makes it feel like we don’t have time to give to other people. This may be especially true for your staff, who likely feel that they aren’t spending enough time with their spouses and families.
Being generous with your time can have a big impact on how your staff see their own time. You could offer to babysit for a coworker who could use more time with their spouse. Or offer to help take care of a big winter project. Or simply spend time with them, listen to them, and pray with them.
You don’t just want your staff to be available to those who need their love and support. You want them to actively seek out opportunities to bless people with their time.
3. Be generous with affirmation
Kind, thoughtful words of encouragement goes a long way. For some people, the right affirmation can mean more than any physical gift. It signals that you know and value who they really are, you recognize their strengths and what they add to your team and community.
It costs us nothing to give people a moment of our attention. And as your staff is encouraged by your affirmation, they’ll be emboldened to affirm those around them, too.
Encourage generosity within your church
You want your congregation to be the epicenter of generosity in your community. That doesn’t happen overnight. But if you start by focusing on being generous toward one another, your church members will start seeing opportunities to be generous toward other people they interact with.
4. Start a prayer wall
As joyous as we often make them out to be, the holidays are hard for a lot of people. And just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean our trials and suffering take time off, too. Thankfully, we can pray generously for each other and our neighbors. This is a great time to set up a prayer wall, where church members can share prayer requests and pray for people who they may or may not know.
5. Suggest ways to be neighborly toward one another
Small acts of kindness can completely change the course of someone’s day. One pleasant interaction can carry over into every interaction that comes next and ripple throughout someone’s friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances. So a great way to cultivate generosity in your church is to highlight some of the small, ordinary deeds that can make each other’s day:
- Buying coffee for someone when you know they’re having a tough day
- Visiting someone in a nursing home
- Making baked goods for someone
- Inviting someone over for a meal
Church leaders often have much greater visibility into the biggest needs of individuals within your congregation. In the name of being neighborly, you might consider starting a benevolence fund of some kind (if you don’t have one already!) to distribute resources to church members who are going through crises. This can be a great way for people who have never given before to start trusting your church to use the money God has given them.
Be generous toward your community
As your church’s generosity overflows into your larger community, it can have several powerful effects. Those who are blessed by your church may be more receptive toward your message, and curious about what drives your generosity. Those who witness your kindness may be curious about what makes your community different. And some may be inspired to come alongside you, or find other ways to bless the people around them.
6. Host a toy drive
Low-income families in your community don’t get to celebrate Christmas the way most people do. Their kids watch as other parents shower children with the latest toys and extravagant financial gifts while they receive hand-me-downs and what little their parents can afford. By hosting a toy drive and encouraging your church members and your community to donate new toys and gift cards, you can bless low-income families this Christmas.
This is also another instance where you can create a dedicated short-term fund, so those who can’t make it to the store or volunteer can still participate in your decision to be generous as a church.
7. Bless local nonprofits
Local charities are often short-handed or under resourced during the holidays. Find a nonprofit that meets a need that aligns with your priorities, or simply one that’s running a local holiday program. Whether they need specific items, money, or volunteers, your church can provide the support they need to make an impact—and your community will experience your generosity in new ways.
8. Shovel snow for people and businesses
Depending on where you live, some people in your community may be literally trapped in their homes by snow and ice. And even if they’re not trapped, every year, people inevitably fall and get hurt.
But shoveling snow is hard work. And not everyone is capable of doing it. Your church could bless your community by generously giving your time to shovel driveways, sidewalks, and entrances. Whether you send teams into neighborhoods or downtown, this is the kind of simple generosity that can inspire your community to be neighborly and spark their curiosity about your church.
And of course, if there’s no snow where you live, you can always do rake up leaves and clear out debris.
As people get more involved in your church and invested in your community, generosity should be one of the qualities you develop in them. Our acts of generosity toward one another are a reflection of God’s constant and abundant generosity to us. So this Christmas, make an intentional effort to instill the value of generosity in your staff, your church, and your community.