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Generous Church: Ten Top Characteristics

I recently had the privilege of speaking to over 150 church leaders about the role generosity plays in allowing local bases of ministry to impact, serve, and change their communities.  During that time together, I discussed The Top 10 Characteristics of a Generous Church.  I want to make that content available to you.  

A problem currently exists in American churches that we as spiritual leaders need to address.  As a whole, our congregations are not generous.  Let’s look at some facts.

Christians are giving at a 2.5% per capita or tithe.  During the Great Depression, they gave at a 3.3% rate.  Today, 33-50% of church members, those who claim they have bought in at a deep level to your ministry, give nothing.

If we were able to have our people increase their giving from 2.5% to 10% of their annual income, an additional $165 billion would flow into the Kingdom.  To show the global impact those resources could make, consider the following:

  • $25 billion would relieve global hunger, starvation, and deaths from preventable diseases in 5 years.
  • $12 billion would eliminate illiteracy in 5 years.
  • $15 billion would solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
  • $1 billion would fully fund the Great Commission.
  • $100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.

These statistics were provided by www.generouschurch.com

The Following Are Questions Church Leaders Then Need to Be Asking Based Upon This Current Reality

  1. Where can we get a roadmap to help us effectively communicate our need for financial resources to continue fulfilling our ministry vision?
  2. How do we focus people and leadership on the responsiveness and the generous heart that honors God?
  3. How do we help our leaders discern the importance of best practices and the role of faith in making decisions for the ministry of the church?

To answer these questions, we must build a composite picture of what a generous church looks like.  Generous churches have the following:

  1. Righteous Regret – The pastor and senior leadership must be broken about the condition of those around them and have a vision of what financial resources could do to bring aid to the hurting and suffering.  This begins with senior pastors as the platform/pulpit drives ministry initiatives.
  2. Ethos – Most churches have a vision statement that includes honoring God, reaching people for Christ, and serving others.  However, if I visit a church three consecutive weekends, I know what your church actually celebrates.  Church leaders, if I came to your church three weekends in a row, would I say that you celebrated generosity?  
  3. Defiant – Generous churches are non-apologetic about asking for resources.  They understand that ministry costs money, and the more money you have, the more impact you can make.  
  4. Poverty Centric – Generous churches focus on the under-resourced, hurting, orphaned, poor, and those in need rather than ministry maintenance.  They care deeply about improving human life. 
  5. Crusade – Generous churches are on a quest to serve those around them.  Is it unacceptable that probably 10% of your city lives below the poverty line or children to go to bed cold and hungry or for families to lose their homes or…
  6. Partnerships – Generous churches work with other groups such as Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, and Convoy of Hope who do things better than they do.  By working with these groups, churches can multiply their impact.  It is true that one can put a thousand to flight but two can put ten thousand.  That’s the value of partnerships.
  7. Call to Action – Generous churches know that how you ask people to give and serve makes a big difference in their level of engagement.  These churches make requests of their people in a way that is clear, crisp, and compelling.
  8. Clear Instruction – Generous churches communicate what the needs are in their sphere of influence and how resources utilized effectively can be a solution to these problems.  In addition, they creatively weave generosity into each service, allowing people to participate.
  9. Easy Accessibility – Generous churches create multiple points of entry for their donors.  All churches should have automatic draft, online giving, and kiosks in their lobbies.  Churches are one of the few places left where people still write checks, but that is diminishing greatly.
  10. Corporate Commitment – Generous churches know that everyone (young, old, male, female, rich, or poor) can and does make a difference.  Each is engaged, cultivated, and enlisted in a manner God has equipped them to behave.

I trust this list helps you create a culture of generosity that serves others and relieves human suffering.  Pastors and church leaders, what additional strategies are you implementing to increase generosity in your churches?

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Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.