Pastors are beginning to see what may be in the future when it comes to resourcing vision. Even those churches that are debt free with months of expenses in liquid cash reserves are concerned about their financial futures.
After watching scores of worship services online, I would like to offer some encouragement and coaching to pastors. My personal two takeaways are we need to raise our confidence and clarity as it relates to leading generously. Here are some tips.
Generosity is biblical.
We are not fundraisers. One of the most encouraging giving stories in the Bible for me personally is the very first family. Think about it for just a minute. The very first activity recorded in the Bible of the very first family is a prioritization of connecting with God through generosity.
We tend to focus on Cain not getting it right, but God offers him such grace right on the spot. The key to this story is giving has always been around. Humans need it to have a thriving spiritual life. It is more about them than our church budgets. So, let’s help people out.
Generosity failures are normal.
In Exodus 32, we find God’s people at a point of national crisis. Even though God had demonstrated great power in their recent past by delivering them from Egypt, fear quickly grabbed their lives. Self-motivation arises and the children of Israel take what little they have in their hands and petition their leader to sculpt a golden calf to worship.
Using our resources in wrong ways to feel spiritually secure has always been a human trap. We as leaders can facilitate this when we lead generosity with a focus on funding our budgets. Generosity is really important to our souls. Our people will settle down emotionally when we begin to turn our eyes from fear to purpose. God gives us resources to share and sharing feels great.
Generosity is more powerful when God moves.
I think tithing is overrated. Now I tithe as well as give above and beyond my tithe. Both have been my practice since I was a teenager and had a lawn mowing business.
However, I give best when God moves me. He always asks me to give at times when my pastor is not around and in ways my pastor doesn’t know to solicit. This is biblical. There are many stories in Scripture where people give far beyond a tithe in response to God’s moving. Just read Exodus 35:21 as an example.
Generosity can transform a city.
While no one wants to be in this crisis, it is creating tremendous opportunity for the church. Everything is shutting down, but we are brightening up. Social media feeds and the internet are even struggling to keep up with the active presence of the Church. We may have even experienced the highest worship attendance ever for the church in the U.S. as churches of all sizes are going viral.
Acts 4:34 describes a day when the Church lived generously. Nothing was off the table. The people and leaders were on the same page and a social need was eradicated from a community. In my opinion, the local church should be the most generous organization in your city. We need to unleash giving today.
Generosity reveals Jesus.
For God so loved the world that he gave. Jesus came to serve and not be served, giving his life for all. We are taught that when we do for the least we do for Jesus. God is a generous God and we are created in his image. When his generosity is released to advance the kingdom, it is a revelation of God’s love and grace. 2 Corinthians 8 even speaks about giving as grace.
Church leaders, it is your time. Your community needs you. The airwaves are wide open. Let’s turn every dollar we have to make a difference for all eternity in the lives of people.
As fast as you can move from feeling money pressure to releasing generosity in your people the better. This Sunday begin to make a bigger deal of generosity. Not because we are afraid of keeping our doors open, but because the kingdom is moving forward faster than ever.
As many of you know, I served at LifeWay before I came to the Billy Graham Center. LifeWay is stepping up to help and I wanted you to be aware that Generosity by LifeWay has opened its digital giving system to all churches.
They are (quickly) creating online giving pages for churches with no tech staff or even a website. They are helping larger churches figure out what they need to update. Their free digital giving resource is at www.lifewaygenerosity.com/coronavirusand their general resources are at LifeWay.com/coronavirus.
Todd McMichen (@ToddMcMichen)is director of Generosity & Digital Giving at LifeWay and author of Leading a Generous Church: Making Disciples without Chasing Money.