This week I relished listening to Rebekah Burch Basinger in this month’s “Author Chat” done by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. 1 She is the co-author of the classic, Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry. Part of her conversation was about what it would mean for abundance to be the stewardship model in people’s lives, instead of a scarcity mindset that assumes we never have enough resources to accomplish what God has called us to do.
“This whole concept is really foundational: to put God in givers’ hearts first,” said Rebekah. “We need to keep the focus on the giver’s heart, and not let anything get in front of that” (such as money or institutional needs).
Even when a nonprofit organization or a local church is facing a big financial challenge, she said, participants can start by asking themselves what assets they have, instead of what they lack. One example she gave was when she got to work with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Arizona. Despite their difficult financial dilemma at the time, their new bishop asked the question, “What do we want to accomplish, and what will be needed to do it?” When the church leaders and members looked at their situation from that point of view, they realized they already had a lot of what they needed.
So what can church leaders do to encourage such an abundance approach? Rebekah cited these four things:
- Tell positive “rallying stories” of God’s abundance in the past, when God came into a particular situation and responded with abundant grace. Then ask the members what they learned from that story to help in their current circumstances.
- Talk about money regularly, as an everyday part of the church’s conversation.
- Be faithful in reporting back to givers, letting them know how their giving made a positive difference in people’s lives.
- Find every opportunity to celebrate your congregation’s corporate generosity, saying Thank you for all they have done to make a positive difference.
Your partner in ministry,
1 – To hear all of Rebekah Burch Basinger’s Author Chat, go to the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s website, stewardshipresources.com/authorchats/basinger. While you’re there, check out the other authors, as well, offered for free.