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Creating a Culture of Generosity (free sample)

Give and you will receive.
Store Code: PS96
Format: Microsoft Word
Type: Article

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Note: This article is included in our download series, Developing a Culture of Stewardship.

The first step in setting the stage for a successful stewardship system is to create a culture of generosity in your church. Generosity is an often intangible force that trickles down from you to your people and results in specific actions. As your people see you being generous with resources to support them, making them more comfortable, and giving them the best opportunity to grow, they will begin to adopt that same spirit of generosity. However, if your actions reflect an attitude of scarcity, your people will act in the same vein and approach giving with a scarcity mentality.

Paul convicts us on this point in Romans 2:3-4: "Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God's judgment when you do the same things? Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" We are quick to judge others for not being faithful in their giving, but we are not always being faithful in the ways we give to them. We are not modeling the outward expression of a generous heart. And yes, we are called to give to our people—sacrificially, even. Another way to think of the word kindness in this verse is "generosity." God's generosity draws us into repentance. But how will people ever see or understand God's generosity if we, as the church, fail to model it? What if your church could become known in your community as the church that gives rather than the church that takes? What a profound impact that would have on creating a culture of generosity within your church and a reputation of generosity beyond your doors.

Since our [church's] first days, we have made an intentional decision at The Journey to focus on exemplifying God's provision through generosity. Living with an open hand has not always been easy; we've been stretched. But the rewards of generosity are well worth the effort and expense. We've grown, our people have grown, our church has grown, and the culture of generosity that has been established permeates every area of our ministry. Here are just a few examples of the ways we try to go over and above in modeling generosity:

  • We give a free book to all our first-time guests at the service.
  • We send a free Starbucks card to all our first-time guests.
  • We offer unlimited coffee and donuts at every service.
  • We send a free gift to everyone who gives for the first time.
  • We give a free book to everyone who signs up for a fall (campaign) growth group.
  • We give free movie tickets to people who bring first-time guests on special occasions.
  • We give away free CDs that are relevant to the day's teaching topic.
  • We put free resources and materials online.
  • We provide free breakfast and/or lunch for our Sunday volunteers.
  • We offer free seminary-level classes for all our growth group leaders.
  • We put ads in widely read newspapers.
  • We do frequent mailings to the community.
  • We reach out to hundreds of thousands of people annually through servant evangelism, which involves blanketing the community with free granola bars or bottles of water and postcard invitations to The Journey.

Pastors often ask me, "How do you pay for all of that?" My answer is short and simple: the fruit is in the harvest. I can't afford not to do it. If I refused to foster an atmosphere of generosity at The Journey, I would be cutting off God's blessing and closing down people's hearts. I would be lessening the likelihood that people visit our church for the first time and then go on to become fully engaged followers of Christ.

I want you to examine your heart toward generosity. Refocus your thinking. Shift the paradigm. Ask God to give you wisdom as you begin to walk in the understanding that generosity breeds generosity.

Let me remind you of two practical steps to take as you start cultivating a generous culture. First of all, begin cutting your spending where you can, but not in ways that will visibly influence your generosity. For example, if you are doing mailings, don't stop doing those. Instead, call the printer you are working with and try to negotiate a better rate. Always be on the lookout for internal savings.

Second, focus on proper stewardship. Learn to cooperate with God to bring in the full tithes and offerings. As church leaders, we set the tone for our people. Every system we implement to make our churches healthier begins with our own obedience to the heart of God.

—Nelson Searcy; adapted from Maximize: How to Develop Extravagant Givers in Your Church (Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2010). Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be distributed to other web locations or published in other media without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.


  1. What do you think of the author's list of ways to model generosity? Are any of these possible for you to integrate into your own church?
  2. What are some ways you can cut costs in your budget?
  3. Do you think your church currently models generosity? If not, how will you start?
Topics:Church Staff, Fundraising, Giving, Leadership, Money, Offerings, Poor, Stewardship, Tithing
Filters:Business administrator, Deacon, Elder, Finances, Financial officer, Pastor
References:2 Corinthians 9:6

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July 03, 2011  9:02pm

Thank you for sharing the article. You are doing great, because you are doing exactly what God is leading you, and directing you to do. I believe in generosity. I practice it by the grace of God. Sometimes people will leave a service, not remembering the truth of the message from the Lord, but they will remember the way you treated them, and they will return, and even invite others to come to the service. Members of the church put together, cook something nice, and invite friends in the community to share in a meal, and fellowship. I believe as much as possible, the church must find ways, to encourage and bring others in so they can receive Christ as their Saviour. The Word of God speaks of giving sacrificially also. When we sow sparingly we reap sparingly, so bountifully, reap bountifully. To God be praise.

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Dane Gressett

June 08, 2011  9:50am

Giving for the purpose of motivating others to give is perilous territory! God gave His best...and yes we learn by that greatest act of generosity to also give. But where I have to watch out, as a pastor, is to make sure my "developing a culture of generosity" is really about our love to reflect the nature of God or really more about our desire to grow our budget and church. The two do not have to be independent of one another. But we must be prayerful and careful! For our Lord has said, "You cannot serve God and mammon." The error of the prosperity gospel was that it taught generosity as a means to get wealth, rather than a means by which we reflect the glory of God (whether we get wealthy or not.)

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Terry Smith

June 01, 2011  8:59pm

Where does 2 Cor. 9:6 get its root? From that root what is the context? From that contexts why is the collection being taken? What is the principle that we are to apply from that context? There is only one! Because we are to apply the principles we find in scripture correctly then we have missed it horribly and have abused the text to further what we want not what God wants. Did you know there is no mention of a church collection until ten years after the church was born? If you know this then you will know from where 2 Cor.9:6 gets its root. And every text we have after that all ties back into that one purpose. What was the purpose?

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First NameJewell Matthews

February 12, 2011  8:36pm

Excellent, will adopt some of the ideals for my church. Thanks

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