The following is a summary of Right Direction Church International senior pastor Herbert Bailey’s session from our 2022 Give Conference.
Generosity isn’t just about the Sunday offering. It’s a principle modeled through Scripture. Yet, despite countless verses and teachings on the topic, cultivating generosity is one of the greatest challenges church leaders face today. How do you nurture a culture of generosity within your congregation?
Giving is a testament to the sincerity of our love and reflects our unwavering commitment to the Lord, not just a dollar amount. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-8, you see the church in Macedonia displaying abundant generosity despite their profound poverty and affliction. As pastors and church leaders, this scripture challenges us to foster the same spirit within our congregations, regardless of financial standing.
Giving is a testament to the sincerity of our love and reflects our unwavering commitment to the Lord, not just a dollar amount.
As you work to build a generous spirit in your church, consider the following four lessons you can learn from the church in Macedonia.
1. Maintain Joy Despite Circumstances
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” – 2 Corinthians 8:2
The New Testament church serves as a powerful example of maintaining joy despite challenging economic circumstances. Joy isn’t contingent upon your circumstances; it’s a state of mind rooted in faith and gratitude. To maintain joy, regardless of your circumstances, you need to focus on the grace and blessings you receive from God. When there is joy, giving becomes an expression of gratitude and faith, even in difficult times.
If a joyful church leads to a generous church, you need to be conscious about whether you’re producing a joyful atmosphere in your congregation. Are you creating an environment where faith and gratitude thrive?
2. Don’t Count Other People’s Money
“For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” – 2 Corinthians 8:3
Oftentimes, those who you think won’t give will, and those you think will won’t. When you look at the cars people drive and the houses they live in, it’s easy to make assumptions about how much they give. It’s crucial not to make assumptions about who will or won’t give based on their financial situation. People’s willingness to give reflects their commitment and connection to the Lord. When individuals love the Lord, money is not a problem, and giving becomes a natural expression of their faith.
The story of the rich young ruler illustrates this principle. Despite his wealth, he was unable to part with his possessions to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22). In fact, you see that the abundance of wealth and resources can actually create a barrier in someone’s heart when it comes to giving. Conversely, Jesus witnessed a poor widow giving two mites, her entire livelihood, as an offering to God (Luke 21:1-4). God doesn’t see people as you see people–you never know who God is going to use in His grace.
3. Establish Credibility and Integrity
“And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.” – 2 Corinthians 8:5
Conducting yourself in a way that instills trust and confidence in your congregation is crucial for fostering a spirit of giving. Credibility is based on how others see, view, and esteem you. Paul had great credibility, and he sent Timothy, who was trustworthy, to the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 8:5). Credibility is earned not just by what you say but also by what you do. And more so doing what you say you’re going to do.
Credibility is earned not just by what you say but also by what you do. And more so doing what you say you’re going to do.
As a leader, you must behave consistently with your values and model generosity. Your lifestyle should reflect your commitment to being holy people of God. Ensure transparency in financial matters and demonstrate personal generosity to earn credibility and maintain integrity within your church.
4. Giving Proves the Sincerity of Love
“I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” – 2 Corinthians 8:8
When you give gifts to people you love, like your mother on Mother’s Day or children on their birthday, you want the gift to reflect how much you value them. When you love someone, you naturally want to give them your best. The ultimate example of this is seen in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus with her expensive oil, demonstrating her deep love for Him (Matthew 26:6-13). While the people around her saw this as an act of waste, Jesus called this out as an act of love.
Love gives, and as church leaders, you must demonstrate generosity by living as examples for your congregation. A generous church starts with a generous pastor. You can teach what you know, but ultimately, you reproduce who you are. You’ll never have a generous church if you are a stingy pastor.
A generous church starts with a generous pastor. You can teach what you know, but ultimately, you reproduce who you are.
When you follow these principles and trust in the grace of giving, you create an environment where generosity can flourish. As leaders, it’s essential to acknowledge that the growth of generosity within your congregation is ultimately a work of God’s grace. Trust that God will move in the hearts of your church members, inspiring them to give willingly and generously.
Remember to maintain joy within your congregation, not to make assumptions about who will or won’t give, establish credibility and integrity, and emphasize the love behind giving. By doing so, you can foster a spirit of generosity that will strengthen your church community and enable it to better serve God’s mission.
To watch Herbert Bailey’s full session from Give Conference 2022, click here.
Join us at Give Conference 2023 on September 18-19 in Augusta, GA to hear from pastors and leaders like Jack Graham and Mark Rutland on how you can increase giving and engagement within your congregation.