“Let’s talk about giving…”
Few opening lines cause more negative response than this one.
We’ve all probably witnessed it: the audible groans, the unconscious clutching of a purse or wallet. You might even have that response yourself. Giving is one of the most contentious topics a pastor can cover, so many choose to avoid it. Some churches only talk about it a couple of times a year, hoping to avoid a negative response.
But what if the best way to change your congregation’s relationship with giving was by talking about it every week?
Sure, finances can be scary. Your congregation works hard for what they have, and in this unpredictable world, it can be difficult to let go of control. But God wants not only to care for them but also to use them and their resources to change the world.
Here’s some numbers just to see the scale of difference that can be made:
(courtesy of EnterpriseAppsToday: https://www.enterpriseappstoday.com/stats/church-revenue-statistics.html)
- U.S. Christians collectively earn $5.2 trillion per year.
- Only around 5% of churchgoers are givers.
- The average weekly giving per church goer is $17.
What stories are you telling?
You and your church are often one story away from seeing generosity the way God sees it. All you need to do is begin telling stories that guide your church from a place of fear to a place of faith and from a posture of fear and to posture of faith. Here are four ways to begin telling those kinds of stories about generosity.
1. Tell stories of generosity from your church
God is already doing amazing things in your church. He regularly meets needs through the generosity of others. He provides for those who are giving, even when they are not sure there will be enough money to pay the bills. He is already at work— but so few get to hear about those stories because we are not telling them.
Chances are you are already aware of some of these stories, but if you not, start asking small group leaders, Sunday school teachers, or other leaders about stories of God’s generosity or another member’s obedience.
Capture those stories on video or ask people to share them on stage. It does not need to take long — but it is powerful to watch others go model giving and receiving God’s generosity at work.
2. Tell stories of generosity from around the corner
Does your church give to ministries that support your local community? Ask those ministries to briefly share how God is using the support from your church to change lives in your city.
Are any of your members involved in some sort of community outreach? Have any of them been obedient to God in starting new ministries or diving into one when called?
These types of stories are a great way to get your church excited about the ways God wants to use their generosity.
3. Tell stories of generosity from around the world
The same is true for global impact. Who does your church partner with for ministries around the world? How are you training, sending out, and supporting missionaries and ministries to make disciples, feed, help, or serve people?
This is another great opportunity to demonstrate the scope of what God can do through the generosity of His people. Invite missionaries or mission partners to share stories of what God is doing through the gifts of your church. Tell real, personal stories of impact, allowing your church to hear the powerful testimonies of the ways God is providing to people half a world away because of their generosity.
4. Tell stories from the pages of Scripture
We know that God can use our generosity to impact the lives of others. But what so many of us forget is the way God works in our hearts when we choose to be generous. And while giving is a command, it’s also an act of worship. An act of letting go so that we have more room for our Maker.
In addition to sharing the Biblical mandate to give, make it a part of your worship time. Ask your church to come together in prayer over the needs of other believers, your community, and the world. Model to your church how to come before God with open hands, listening to see what He wants us to give.
This time may feel awkward at first, but that’s okay. God is not afraid of our awkward silences. He is just waiting for us to let Him speak.
5. Finally, and this one is important, tell stories about generosity every week.
If you want to change the way your church believes, thinks, and talks about giving, then we challenge you to tell stories and teach them about giving in some capacity every week for a year and see what God does. We believe that He wants to do great things in your church.
Not sure where to start?
Subscribe to Sunday Storytellers, and you’ll receive 52 generosity prompts that work together with teaching commentaries to help churches keep this component of their worship experience relevant, fresh, and unique each week, all year long.
Emily Towns, Staff Writer, Paper Giants