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Building a Generous Church

Encouraging generosity in the church is a matter I believe I can speak to because it is something I haven’t mastered, and I am working on daily. So, I write from trial and error, and a current experience of attempting to create a culture of generosity in our church for better or for worse. I want to lead a Church that is compelled by the love of Christ. As gospel believing people, we should respond to the gift of our salvation by living generous lives for God’s glory and mission.

I believe it is important to be vulnerably honest about why talking about money and generosity is critical for discipleship. Most pastors (myself included) feel anxious when it comes to talking about money on a Sunday morning, and I have decided it is the best practice to inform the congregation on the angst I feel. As soon as I confess the uneasiness I experience due to the negative perceptions about churches “just wanting your money,” I explain to them that the alternative would be having a pastor who doesn’t care about their hearts.

Jesus said that our financial resources and hearts are directly linked together. If I neglect to address generosity, I neglect what Jesus, by the direct link of the heart and resources he gave in his statement, would consider the greatest indicator of one’s spiritual health. Jesus didn’t claim that where one’s “quiet time” or mission trip was, there the heart would also be, but explicitly pointed to money (Matthew 6:21). That matters, and to neglect this teaching and spiritual forming is to neglect the care of a congregation’s soul.

I don’t want that to ever be true of me as a local church shepherd.

In creating a local church culture of generosity, a high priority must be the old cliché of practicing what you preach. Personally, I believe the pastor should be giving proportionally to what he would expect and hope for a church member to contribute financially to the Church. That doesn’t need to be advertised or boasted over, but is a matter of integrity that honors the Lord. It is also imperative that one does not underestimate the importance for church members seeing the church practice generosity. Our church gives away a lot of money, and I believe our members respect that and even expect that to be a reality.

One essential for us in creating a generous church culture is that we do not have a “missions budget.” Our entire budget is our missions budget. We desire to see disciples made in our city, churches planted in our state and across North America, and the gospel taken across the globe. Our congregation must see the exciting privilege it is being part of contributing to Great Commission efforts, and I hope the church is compelled to give because of the mission of the local Church, rather than to merely pay some bills. From our Church janitor, to the lead guitar player in the band, to the individual rocking babies in the nursery, and the family who writes a check twice a month to the Church, we are all on a mission to make disciples in our city. When you financially give to our Church, every penny is going to missions, and that mindset is something I want to see created in the culture of our Church.

As a pastor, I want to lead a generous Church because unless that is a reality, disciples are not being made. Non-generous followers of Christ are “Christians” our Lord would not figuratively recognize. It must be viewed as just as much a part of one’s spiritual formation as reading the Bible, praying, repenting of sin, and living on mission. How can we be in step with Christ if the very means He gave to diagnose the condition of our hearts points us to a spiritual hospital, rather than a clean bill of health? I want to take discipleship seriously, and that means our congregation must see generosity as a top shelf issue for following Jesus Christ.

This article originally appeared at the Send Network blog.

    About the Author

  • Dean Inserra