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How Pastors Should Talk About Giving in the Current Crisis

Generosity of thought – What are you thinking about yourself and others during this time? Catch yourself if those thoughts are negative.

Generosity of words – “Take the time through text, voicemail, facetime…affirming words are a powerful form of generosity.”

Generosity of influence – A lot of people are looking for jobs or connections during this time. Is there any way you can help?

Generosity of time – As people are quarantined or working remotely, they may have the gift of time on their hands. Formsma gave the example of churches assembling call lists and contact sheets so members can contact each other. “We long for some type of community and we’ve been shut off from it,” Formsma explained. This is the time to reach out to widows and other people who are vulnerable, Formsma said. He also gave the example of church members helping those more vulnerable by delivering groceries to them.

Generosity of attention – Now is the time to be fully present with people. “Even as I’m talking to people on the phone or through Zoom calls, I’m pushing aside other things that I could be doing on my phone simultaneously,” Formsma said.

Generosity with “stuff” – This could look like collaborating with our ideas, but it could also mean sharing physical items. “In these times, to be creative is an understatement for being generous.”

Be clear about the church’s mission. 

Formsma stressed that as leaders it’s easy for us to be so close to the mission that we assume everybody knows what it is. Yet, it’s important for givers to be able to connect their generosity to the vision and impact of the church. 

Eric Geiger (the current senior pastor of Mariners Church) makes a point of showing people how the money they gave to the church was used and why. In the same way, Batterson says: “when you have clear vision, it sets up for God to bring the provision.” Formsma encourages pastors to restate what the mission of the church is when talking about giving and living generously. People want to know where their money went. What can you tell them? 

Talk about giving online and reinforce how simple it is. 

Many churches are turning to online giving platforms for perhaps the first time in their church’s history. Formsma’s advice for such churches is for the pastor to thoroughly walk through the process of online giving him or herself before explaining it to the congregation. “Know with all the clarity you can muster how the process works so you can explain the process to your congregation,” Formsma advises. It’s a good idea to sign yourself up and go through the entire process so that there’s no confusion on your end. In the end, the online giving platform is a service for the congregation. It’s quick, easy, and “it’s good to have a plan or consistency in your giving.” 

Practicing Generosity is a Way to ‘Move Outside’ Yourself

In a time of increased anxiety and uncertainty, drawing your attention off of yourself and your own troubles can be a very necessary thing. Generosity can help you do that. In fact, the goal to all this generosity is experiencing joy, Formsma believes.  

We all need to get our “generosity antenna” working. In other words, “what is right under my nose that I’m not seeing?” For instance, when Formsma learned his barber couldn’t continue cutting hair during this pandemic, Formsma sent him the price of a haircut through Venmo. You might start by asking yourself “Who do I know who can’t work right now?” 

“Every time I give, I move outside my reality of me-focus and on to others,” Formsma explains. There are so many things we can’t control during this time of crisis. But one intentional thing we can do, whether we have money to donate or not, is to practice generosity. In times like these, there are opportunities to practice everywhere.

Brad Formsma is the author of the best-selling book I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life and Everyday Generosity: Becoming a Generous Family in a Selfie World. He is the Founder of I Like Giving, an organization which has inspired more than 120 million people in 170 countries to live generously. Brad helps leading businesses and churches around the country increase engagement, improve health, and increase giving through one of his messages on seven ways to live generously. He’s had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of thousands of people at corporations, conferences, churches and community events.