In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul gives a clear call for leaders to disciple their people to live generously. The Easy-to-Read Bible translation reads this way:
Give this command to those who are rich with the things of this world. Tell them not to be proud. Tell them to hope in God, not their money. Money cannot be trusted, but God takes care of us richly. He gives us everything to enjoy. Tell those who are rich to do good and to be rich in good works. And tell them they should be happy to give and ready to share. By doing this, they will be saving up a treasure for themselves, which will be a strong foundation on which their future life will be built. They will then be able to have the life that is true life.
Our discipling efforts are incomplete when generosity isn’t communicated. Randy Alcorn said, “It is impossible to become fully developed followers of Jesus without becoming a fully developed steward of our (God’s) resources.” But what does this kind of disciple-making look like?
Emphasizing generosity in disciple-making involves four key parts--Teaching, Modeling, Inviting and Celebrating:
- Teaching: Teaching generosity must come from the pulpit and can be worked into nearly any sermon subject. But, generosity teaching that stops here falls short of its potential. Other important teaching approaches include Adult Bible Fellowships, small group studies, one-to-one accountability partnerships, the individual study of God’s word, relevant books, and resources such as Crown Financial or Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It is also critical for teaching to begin at home with our children and be reinforced by the church.
- Modeling: Effective discipleship requires leaders to model what they teach. Leaders must have a genuine commitment to biblical stewardship, model generosity, share the Word, pray for others to join, be the first to sign up for financial stewardship classes, teach a class, and even make it a subject of discussion in leadership circles.
- Inviting: Everything can be done well in teaching and modeling, but that doesn’t assure people will respond. The invitation/challenge must be extended for people to give and be generous. Why are ministry related capital campaigns so successful in raising large amounts of resources? Two reasons:
- They are kingdom- and vision-focused campaigns.
- There is a clear, direct invitation for people to give. There are many different ways to offer the invitation. One example is to consider the 52 opportunities per year--the weekly offering. Don’t just “take the offering.” In every worship service, use this opportunity to actively invite people to give “to the Lord,” be a part of something bigger than themselves and to make a difference. If you intentionally and regularly make this invitation, you will begin to see more regular givers from the 30 percent of your congregation that gives little or nothing.
- Celebrating: Celebration is an important part of nurturing the spirit of generosity. People want to know that their giving makes a difference. And how will they know unless this is communicated? When it’s reinforced that positive outcomes result from giving, there is a stronger understanding of the need, impact, and opportunity to continue to be a part of that impact. Sharing stories of changed lives is a great way to do this.
In all this, it must not be what we want from our people. It must be about what we really want for them (1 Timothy 6: 18-19).
To learn more about “unlocking generosity” in your church, contact us.