Cultivating a Spirit of Generosity

Your church has probably just come through a “meet the budget” effort to gather pledges and encourage giving in the new fiscal year — so the church can meet its budget. Like the agricultural harvest, the fall season just seems to be the time to talk about ingathering.

Your “fall stewardship emphasis” may be little more than a single sermon on tithing, or perhaps a brief series on a biblical perspective on money. Seldom do such efforts inspire an outpouring of financial response. But face it, most pastors don’t like to talk about money and most congregants don’t want to hear about it from the pulpit.

In the annual ritual, few churches actually pledge the amount required for their budgets. Yet churches move forward, even with some trepidation and even if commitments fall short of the needs the budget declares. Church staff will study the history of actual receipts versus amounts pledged, calculate whether the addition of new members balances the deaths of old members and pray for all members to be generous.

But where are members to learn generosity? Who is teaching them generosity?

This Baptist News Global story  about a Baylor class that cultivates generosity says generosity begins with gratitude. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11 he has learned to be grateful in whatever circumstances he finds himself. Circumstances have changed often enough in my life — sometimes much to my surprise — that I’ve learned the truth and value of Paul’s attitude.

While it’s been used often enough to become a cliche, the truth remains that an attitude of gratitude is essential for a happy life and a generous spirit. In my work helping churches to foster such an attitude to encourage generosity among members, we never talk about the budget. We talk about gratitude and generosity as a reflection of that attitude. Budgets take care of themselves as a side effect of members learning the true joy of generosity.

I’m glad to talk with you about how we might work to plant such a seed in your congregation.

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