The Difference Between a Giving Wave and Overflow

by Patrick Johnson  |  July 3, 2018

>>>Be sure and watch this month's video clip from Patrick Johnson below on this blog topic.<<<

Here’s something that I bet you, as a church leader, have had to contend with. I know we at GenerousChurch see it all the time. In an effort to raise the generosity level within a local church family, leaders tend to gravitate toward short-term tactics and strategies that, quite frankly, find their basis in worldly thinking.

Wave Effect vs Overflow

Why is that? Because it brings results—at least at the beginning. All too often, however, we see the “wave effect” set in. There’s a short-term increase in generosity, like a cresting wave, and then interest and commitment subside, just as the wave—its energy spent—recedes from the shore.

Churches everywhere want to know how they can move away from that short-lived wave effect to an overflow, to where their people bubble over with care and concern for others as a way of living, not just an act of giving.

I believe that this key to whole-life generosity is found in the book of Acts.

Generosity in the Early Church

I’ve been studying this exciting book recently during my personal time with God, and I was reminded just how often the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was associated with generosity. Just consider the transformation of the disciples from a timid huddle in the upper room, fearing to go out and do anything, to becoming—when the Spirit came upon them—radical, sacrificial givers with all of life:

  • Sharing the Gospel with boldness
  • Healing the sick and meeting needs
  • Giving money and property with joy

This association of the Spirit with generosity is being exemplified in the “My Generosity Story” surveys we receive. What we’re seeing is that givers who have an active relationship with God are a church’s most generous givers. No surprise there, right?

So when we start thinking about raising the level of generosity in a church, it’s vital that we start with people’s relationship with God. If that isn’t solid, then we might do philanthropic things here and there, but true whole-life generosity flows from a relationship with God, with Jesus at the center. Then living with a heart of gratitude that naturally allows generous release in a person’s life (see graphic below).

An Inspiring Example

Let me give you a true story. A church I was working with in the Boston area wanted to develop a culture of generosity—their heart was to reach those in their community who don’t know Jesus. They knew that if they developed this lifestyle of whole-life generosity, if they became givers rather than takers, they could turn their world upside down. Well, a report came to us of a woman in their congregation who was experiencing kidney failure. She had a very rare condition that made it extremely difficult to find a matching donor.

During this generosity emphasis, fifty people from the church went to the hospital to be tested to see if they might be suitable donors. Fifty people were willing to give her a kidney. And, praise God, a match was found! A television station picked up on the story, came to the church, and broadcast a feature describing this amazing account of generosity on the local news.

So, let me encourage you to move beyond the wave to the overflow, just like this church did (and continues to do).

When people’s primary motivation for generosity flows from their relationship with God, there is no limit to what God, through the Holy Spirit, can do in and through them.

If this idea resonates with you, we want to encourage you to get Generosity Reset resource from our website. It’s a free e-book with practical training videos. This small, helpful book advances the view of God as Provider through nine “resets” that we as leaders need to implement to grow generous, whole-life cultures and really turn the world upside down.

Also, please take a couple of moments to share your comments, ideas, and experiences below. PJ

Watch This Month's Clip

In this video clip, Patrick briefly shares his honest thoughts on moving from a giving wave to overflow.

Please watch and share in your network!

Recommended Resource:

Generosity Reset - Discover 9 Resets to a Generous Church – Download the free eBook

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