It's a leadership problem.

by Patrick Johnson  |  September 14, 2010

Eight years ago, when I first started focusing on generosity and the church, one of my first meetings was with Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church in Atlanta.

I started that meeting by listing some of the pitiful giving statistics applicable to Christian givers in the U.S. You've heard them – the typical Christian gives on average around 2.0% of his income to the church, less than 10% of Christians give 10% or more, and so on. About halfway through the list, Andy stopped me and said something that has stuck in my brain ever since:

"The problem is not a stewardship problem.... The problem is a leadership problem."

And after talking with and examining hundreds of churches since then, Andy was right. Generous churches are led by generous leaders who are intentional about cultivating generous followers. And I'm not just talking about the senior pastor, either. Generosity must permeate key staff members, key lay leaders, and other influencers within your church. The culture of the church reflects the lives of all its leaders.

One mistake I see in so many churches when it comes to stewardship and generosity is that they take a bottom up approach to the issue. They find a couple of people who are passionate about Crown, Dave Ramsey, Good Sense, etc.; empower them to lead financial education classes in the church; and then think "we do stewardship." But this model doesn't change the culture because it doesn't reach enough people quickly enough to make meaningful impact. Although I'm a big fan of using these materials to teach people, this model is often a cop out for church leaders who don't want to live and lead a generosity movement in their church.

But as Bob Dylan said, "the times they are changing."

One of the positive impacts of the economic mess we find ourselves in is that leaders in churches are beginning to wake up to the truth that business as usual can be a strategy for going out of business. Income is down, staffs are being cut, and debt has become a millstone around the neck of many churches. The game plan has got to change, now.

And that's why we created this website: to equip leaders like you to release transformational generosity in your church. As you click around the site, you'll find:

  • Videos by Andy, Mark Driscoll, and other thought leaders on generosity and the church 
  • Library with Bible study tools, quotes, and a Q&A section on giving and the church
  • Blog posts with ideas and strategies for growing a culture of generosity
  • News stories that are shaping the generosity culture of the Church. 
And be sure to explore the various ways our team at GenerousChurch is working with churches across the country to stimulate generosity, develop leaders, and change individual church cultures.

I believe we are at a crossroads in our wealthy American Christian church culture. I believe that when historians 100 years from now look back at us we are in danger of hearing, "This Church had so much wealth, so many skills, so much opportunity...but they blew it because they were owned by their stuff." God realized this risk and speaks clearly about it.

But this doesn't have to be our destiny. We can really change. I've seen it so many times in both leaders and the churches they lead. That's what all of us at GenerousChurch want for you – to equip you to release transformational generosity that changes your people, your community and the world. So join us in the generosity revolution!

VIDEO: Watch Patrick explain five key principles for growing a culture of generosity in your church.

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