There’s no doubt that money is a top concern for pastors. It’s considered taboo to talk about church finances, but money and resources are necessary to do God’s work. And unfortunately, there’s often not enough to accomplish everything you want to for your people, the community, and your chosen worldwide ministry efforts.
Coming off one of the most challenging economic periods in modern human history, we’re guessing you’re facing an even steeper climb to securing funds and encouraging your people to be generous. And that’s not surprising. But it’s also not insurmountable.
Church Disrupt 2021 brought together some of the keenest minds in Church leadership today to talk about post-pandemic giving strategies. And here’s what they had to say.
Creating a Culture of Generosity
Jasmine Finley, CFO of All Nations Worship Assembly, confirms three things to consider when encouraging a culture of generosity.
First, you need to define generosity for your congregation. “As you’re teaching on what generosity is, people will be able to understand the culture of your organization. You’re letting them know that generosity is not just monetary; it is all forms of resources. Whether it is your time, whether it is your educational experience, it is whatever that you have that may be a benefit to others.”
Next, you need to demonstrate generosity. How do you do this? According to Finley, “It’s with your leaders. People need to see your core leaders being generous. They need to know what generosity looks like in full application.” From mission trips to volunteer opportunities and all chances to demonstrate generosity in between, your leaders play a key role in teaching your people how to be generous in all ways.
Finally, you need to disciple your people in generosity, “because generosity takes faith. And so, as you begin to disciple people in generosity, they will be able to understand all aspects of it, and how it pertains to your culture and your organization.”
As to what comes next? Finley encourages Church leaders to consider incorporating technology into building a culture of generosity. “One of the things that digital giving allows is that the Bible tells us in Exodus 25, and in 35, that when they began to build the temple, that God said, ‘Tell the people to bring their contributions according to the willingness of their heart.’ So when you implement things like digital giving, you’re allowing people to give as their heart is moved.”
Finley feels so strongly about digital giving that All Nations Worship Assembly has committed to remaining 100% digital when it comes to giving, having learned during the pandemic that it’s the right choice for their people.
The Awkward Relationship Between Money and Church and What You Can Do About It.
Jim Sheppard, Generis CEO & Principal, addresses the discomfort many pastors feel around addressing generosity in their church. “We don’t talk about it, and yet all of the church leaders that I know want to see giving increase. They want their people to become more generous with their finances, to loosen the grip on money and give back to the one who has provided it all in the first place.”
Sheppard believes that “If we truly want to see our people embrace biblical generosity and all of what that means for their lives, we have to begin to talk about it.” But, first, we need to acknowledge that
“giving is first and foremost a spiritual issue. It’s not financial; it’s spiritual. Our giving back to God for the work he wants to do in this world is a reflection of who he is in our lives.”
Next, Sheppard suggests five ways (really six, as you’ll see) to build a culture of generosity in your church:
Teaching – “The senior leader and the teaching team in a church have to teach us on a regular basis. A series every now and then is helpful like Andy Stanley did with the Money Talks series in 2019. But consider other means as well. Maybe giving or generosity or stewardship comes up in the text of a passage you’re using to make another point. Don’t just blow past it. Take time to cover the generosity point in that text.”
Modeling – “You can’t just teach; you’ve also got to model generosity in your own life as the senior leader and the lives of others. The caveat here is to be careful to give credit to God for the increase in your heart’s capacity to give. That’s the real story here.”
Celebrate – “I think the church has really missed this one. Celebrate missional advancement. Encourage your church by highlighting when you have victories in giving. It might be the single most overlooked element of encouraging generosity.”
Make generosity a priority – “Specifically identify giving and generosity as one of the marks of discipleship in your church. Values get prioritized, and many times the values the church establishes are connected to marks of discipleship. There’s prayer, there’s service, there’s leading, there’s Bible study. Those are frequently on the list of things a church considers the marks of discipleship.”
Have a generosity champion – “Generosity should be like a thread that is woven into the fabric of the church, not siloed, but owned by every leader on the team. A generosity champion, whether a staff person or a key layperson, will keep it on the table at all times–someone who is always leaning in and saying, ‘We need to consider generosity here.’”
A solid digital giving strategy – “Don’t let off the gas. Keep using it as a way to engage more of your givers, and I mean all ages. There’s a myth out there that older givers are not as likely to use digital giving. That’s not my experience. Boomers have a lot of their life on automatic payments. So it makes sense for their church giving to be digital as well.
And for your recurring givers, make sure you do a once-a-year reset with them. The upside of recurring giving is that it happens automatically. The downside is that it can be so automatic that givers never change the amount. So January, February is a great time to remind your recurring givers to consider adjusting their giving to reflect their current year giving and giving goals.”
Giving Strategies in a Post-Pandemic Age
Moderator Jim Sheppard, CEO & Principal of Generis, talked with John Vaughn, Executive Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Chris Emmitt, Senior Pastor of Local Church, and Jasmine Finley, CFO of All Nations Worship Assembly, about what giving strategies will look like in the post-pandemic age.
All agreed that the pandemic laid bare the state of their church’s giving strategies–whether good or bad. Pastor Vaughn noted, “And so, there is a new normal. And I think for us, it’s asking the question, ‘What does a hybrid ministry really look like?’ And thinking about it both in terms of what are the vessels, what is the ministry that we do, how do we continue to multiply and touch hearts and souls and do it in person and digitally at the same time? And how do we make sure that we have the capacity to be able to do that? So, really starting to position ourselves in that way and viewing stewardship and generosity through the hybrid lens.”
Moving forward, Sheppard asked his guests, “In the next five years, what did they see in giving and generosity?” And all agreed that technology needed to be at the forefront of their efforts:
Senior Pastor Chris Emmitt – “Five years from now, I hope the next generation coming up is discipled in technological ways. You have to engage the next generation at their level. It really is kind of that heartbeat, that fabric, but technology.”
Executive Pastor John Vaughn – “The function is still the work of Jesus. That’s still the function at its core. The question is, how do we use technology to help move that mission? And so, I think, five years out, it’s going to be even more important to be very intentional about making sure that we don’t get seduced into believing that technology is the goal. That the ministry continues to be the goal and that the technology is the tool.”
CFO Jasmine Finley – “In the next five years, I definitely see generosity increasing. God is the one who has released the technology. I don’t believe anybody on earth is as smart as they are. I think that God gave them the vision. He gave them the wisdom. And then, they brought it into fruition. And so, we’re going to see new technologies being implemented. And we’re going to see that increase.”