So how do you build a generous church full of generous people? You start with discipleship through relationships.
My husband, Marty, and I started Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia in 1987. Over the years, we were able to grow our twenty person congregation meeting in a borrowed living room into a multi-campus church that serves over 2,000 people weekly.
Something we continuously say on Sundays is, “thank you for being such a generous church.” And it’s true. In fact, it’s so true that last year we exceeded our annual projection by 1 million dollars. Both the men and women of our congregation contributed to this. However, to cultivate such a culture of generosity in our congregation, we had to disciple, disciple, disciple.
While you should be talking about biblical principles every Sunday, you should also be connecting with your members and discipling on a personal level. This discipleship will look different per person but it will also look different between men and women. This targeted or “segmented” discipleship will help take your church giving to the next level.
Here are four tips on discipleship and segmentation to help your church create a culture of generosity.
1. Don’t Overlook Women
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that men and women are wired differently. So why do we often try to disciple them in the same way?
Most church leaders are men. And if this is you, you probably feel comfortable picking up the phone and asking one of the guys out for coffee or breakfast to catch up. This is a great time to really connect one-on-one and offer individualized discipleship.
Women on the other hand are often the first to see needs arise. Because of this, women are usually the first to recognize the greater needs around them.
Oftentimes, women have a desire to do more but they want to make sure the money is given to the right place and cause. So meet them where they are by providing opportunities to give. This could be an opportunity within your church or a partnership with a local outreach organization.
Oftentimes, women have a desire to do more but they want to make sure the money is given to the right place and cause.
2. Offering Opportunities for Generosity
Our church in Augusta operates the local Dream Center, and it is a natural flow to serve the center with monetary donations, used clothing, food, or even their time. Most people love the opportunity to serve or give of their resources, but are waiting on an opportunity or to be asked to help.
Perhaps your church has a Dream Center as well. Or maybe you have a nearby outreach organization that you can partner with to serve your local community. You may even have a special missions fund set up to serve those in need.
Share numbers and stories with your congregation about what your church is doing. Tell them that the Dream Center is collecting prom dresses to give to under resourced girls in the community. Tell them that your church has partnered with the local food bank and a $15 donation will provide 3 meals to a family in need. Tell them that because of their generous gifts, your ministry was able to provide a struggling, single mom with four new beds for her children at no cost. Share stories of generosity and what your church has been able to accomplish through that generosity.
Share stories of generosity and what your church has been able to accomplish through that generosity.
I’ve known a woman for years who regularly practices sacrificial giving. She will give away everything she has- literally. In fact, she gave away so much that she had to add a category for generosity into her budget. Now, she can do whatever she desires with this budgeted money, but she chooses to look for opportunities where there is a need. It is not uncommon for her to be prompted to buy food or clothing for people in need. This has become her ministry as she shares the love of Christ to others. It is a beautiful thing to see in action.
So many times, women have more to give whether it is their resources or time, but they are looking for a cause. They desire to make a difference in others and many times their hearts are more tender for a good cause.
3. Teach Biblical Principles
Our church regularly teaches on the biblical principles of giving.
One of the most important scriptures of the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.” God set the tone for us in generosity by giving without holding anything back. Not even His own son. This is a powerful message for us as Christians.
God set the tone for us in generosity by giving without holding anything back. Not even His own son. This is a powerful message for us as Christians.
When God asks us to give, He isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done. When we give, we are following His example. When we give, we are giving back what He has given to us.
Generosity starts with God’s Word. Share scripture with your church and the message it teaches. After all, it is the living and breathing Word of God. Let it shape your congregation’s perspective. For more Bible verses to share with your church, check out our other blog post “30 Bible Verses about Money and How to Use It.”
4. Generosity is Critical to Faith
As Christians, we know that we must trust God with our lives. But trusting God with our lives also includes trusting Him with our finances. We know that we are supposed to give the first 10% or “the tithe” to the local church. And by regularly tithing, not only does our trust in our Savoir grow but so does God’s favor.
We see this principle highlighted throughout scripture. Here are a few bible verses you can share with your church about the call to be generous and what will follow our generosity:
“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” –Proverbs 3:9-10
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” – Proverbs 11:24-25
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” –Hebrews 13:6
“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” –Proverbs 22:9
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. –Psalm 112:5
I personally know how important it is for generosity to be a part of every Christian’s life. And through my position at Stevens Creek Church, I have had an upfront view to watch men and women grow in stewardship and generosity as their faith in Christ has also grown. But none of this would be possible without regular and personalized discipleship.
I pray that this blog offers valuable insights to you and that your discipleship efforts will lead to great generosity in your church.