How to Measure and Celebrate Generosity

by sharon-epps  |  October 30, 2012

We celebrate the things that we value.  When your team is competing in the World Series, each run evokes a natural celebration. When you watch a young child accomplish a new task, like tying her shoes, spontaneous applause erupts.

However, I must confess that when it comes to generosity, I’ve only experienced that kind of natural celebration a handful of times in my life.  One of those times occurred a few years ago.

Our church had emerged from the pit of financial distress.  We were just regaining a financial foothold when the youth pastors came to us with a grand vision that would require several million dollars to reach the hearts of thousands of young people in the city.  The leadership of the church prayed over the vision and felt confirmation that God was calling us to proceed.  It would mean that the entire congregation would be called to give generously of their time and money.

What followed were simply the most holy 6-months of our collective faith journey.  Prayer was at an all-time intensity.  Young and old alike banded together to make the effort a reality.  Each department of the church had a part to play (even the adults over 60!) When the time came for the launch of the new outreach to youth, the entire congregation gathered in the most intense celebration and worship since the wall of Jericho fell!  We were not normally a jump-up-and down, scream-and-shout kind of congregation but that night we were.

As I’ve reflected on the experience, I’ve realized that the celebration at the end was the result of an intentional beginning.  This principle is true whether you celebrating the winner of the World Series, or, more importantly, the eternal impact of generous living today.  As you know, someone has to measure the wins and losses of each Major League Baseball season to determine how to properly celebrate the World Series.  In the same way, our church had to have an intentional vision from the youth leaders to know how to celebrate in the end.  In both examples, the celebration is directly tied to the system of measurement.

Let me give some specific points about how this could apply to your church.

First, if you want to celebrate generosity in your church, you should start with a simple, church-wide assessment.  An assessment can show you the giving motivations of your congregation and give you a good foundation for your measurements.  It is much easier to measure progress if you know your starting point…and a generosity assessment will identify your starting point.

Second, you need an end goal.  What do you want to accomplish through the generosity of your church?  Maybe you’re looking to expand your facilities.  Maybe you see generosity as a critical step in the process of discipleship.  Maybe you want your church to have a tangible, community focus.  Regardless, you want to identify the end goal, or the victory, for your generosity teaching.

Your end goal is the vision that will fuel this journey toward generosity.  For our church, our end goal was the vision of reaching thousands of young people in our community with the Gospel.  This is what drove us to become more generous and ultimately was the backbone of our generosity celebration.

Third, utilize each significant step toward your end goal as an opportunity to celebrate generous living.  For example,

  • Have church members share stories of generosity
  • Develop a page on your website that celebrates how God has been generous to you and how your church has imitated His generosity
  • Include snapshots of generosity in your newsletter and provide positive, encouraging feedback
  • Throw a party for those who serve as volunteers and affirm their generosity through service

It’s natural, and expected, that we would celebrate the things that are important to us.  Shouldn’t our generosity (and the imitation of God’s generosity) be one of the things we celebrate? 

Find your starting point.  Measure your goals.  Celebrate regularly.  And watch God work in ways that you never dreamed of or imagined!

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