GenerousChurch

How Can Our Church Define “Generosity Success”?

by GenerousChurch  |  February 19, 2013

How do you define success when it comes to the generosity practices of your church?  If you are like many churches, you may answer, “We don’t.  We just teach it and hope that the congregation lives out what they’ve been taught.”

How well does that work?

When it comes to the generosity practices of our churches, we need barometers for success.  We need to know when we are doing well in this area and we need to know when we are falling behind.

When you were a child, did your church have a wooden plaque hanging on the wall to report attendance numbers and offering receipts?  Many churches are moving away from that old reporting method – partially because the plaques were an eye sore and also because attendance and offerings are no longer the gold standards for church health.

I would not advise you to create a generosity plaque, but you do need some way to define generosity success for your church.

Clarify the Win

In his book, 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, Andy Stanley says that one of the first things effective ministries do is “Clarify the Win.”  In other words, they come up with a simple, specific phrase to describe success.

If you want your church to focus on generosity for the purpose of imitating God (or to help them grow as disciples), you could clarify success in these terms:

  • We want people to know that God is radically generous and we want to equip them for lifestyle generosity rather than transactional generosity.

If you want to define generosity success through the corporate lens of your church, you may define the win in these terms:

  • We want the giving of our church to go up (increase giving in the church) as we teach generosity and to go out (increased external ministries to the community) as we model God’s ways.

If you want to define generosity success through a holistic lens, you may say:

  • We want our people to resonate with God’s radical generosity and reflect that through their service to the world.

While these statements are simply jump-starters, they should help you to see that as you define generosity success in your context, you want to define it with a simple, specific phrase.  You want a phrase that not only sounds good to the leadership of your church, but also one that resonates with the people in your pews (both members and visitors).  You want a definition of success that motivates people and feels attainable. 

Then, you have to communicate it.  Regularly.

Communicating “Generosity Success” to Your Church

There is a great story of how this works in the gospels.  Throughout His time with the disciples, Jesus was always teaching them about the importance of generosity.  He regularly gave.  He offered freedom to those enslaved by demonic spirits and gave healing to the physically ill.  He gave opportunities to the social outcasts – eating with the tax collectors and defending the prostitutes. 

Throughout His ministry, Jesus regularly emphasized the importance of generosity.

Then, in Luke 21, He took the disciples to the temple and asked them to observe the people who were worshipping God with their offerings.  In that context, He pointed out a poor widow who drop a couple of coins in the treasury and then He made the comment, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Through this action, Jesus helped the disciples define generosity success.  He communicated success with a visual reminder and two simple follow up sentences.

So, as you set out to define generosity success at your church, remember that bigger is not necessarily better.  God-honoring is better.

Be intentional.  Clarify the win.  Define success through specific, God-honoring measurements.  Then, use sermons, videos, stories and regular reminders to show your people how to win in this area of their lives.  

____________________________

To learn more about “Clarifying the Win,” see Andy Stanley’s article with that title.

To learn more about celebrating generosity, see “How to Measure and Celebrate Generosity” by Sharon Epps.
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