Contagious Generosity

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Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church is a treasure chest of ideas that get us out of the old assumptions and expectations related to giving to church. It’s filled with high-impact examples of actual practices by top congregations in The Leadership Network. Written by Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, it addresses building a church generosity strategy; developing generous leaders and givers; showcasing changed lives; leveraging worship experiences; embracing the ministries of asking and thanking; and measuring and celebrating acts of generosity as an ongoing process.

My copy of the book is filled with tags on pages and notes in the margins for ideas on which I want to follow-up. The book sets all of its recommendations in the context of generosity as fundamental to the spiritual formation of every Christ follower. “We cannot separate our acceptance of God’s grace from the practice of generosity,” the authors say. “Generosity is the fullest expression of the life of a steward, one who has been given a gift that must be used wisely and for a purpose, bringing glory to God.”

Each chapter ends with a list of key ideas and discussion questions, making it perfect for either personal study or use in small groups. It’s a book well worth working with in both your personal life and congregation.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

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Components for Creating a Culture of Generosity

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Developing a Strategic Plan — Notes from a presentation by Michael Reeves

What are the components of creating a culture of generosity?

  1. Clear statement of what you believe – This includes both your mission statement and your financial support [See “Attributes of a Biblically Generous Church”]

2. Leadership – Lay and professional; Boards; Wealth + Wisdom + Work; Define reality and express appreciation [Ex: Ask, Thank, Tell by Charles Lane]

3. Communication – Most churches need to rethink this area (ex: quarterly, not monthly)

4. Education – About both our mission and different ways to give

5. One-to-One Cultivation – Major donor development

6. Annual giving – Starting point for financial stewardship commitment; Communicate clear expectations / levels of giving; Say thanks

7. Capital giving – Major gifts; Segmented or campaigns; 1 Chronicles 29:1-9; Exodus 36

8. Planned giving – Endowments; Is your church really a candidate for receiving planned gifts?; Focus on wills and bequests; maybe charitable gift annuities

9. Fund raising events — Do a hard evaluation; Two purposes – Are the events for money? Or for community?; The fund raising ratio for the effort is often questionable

10. End-of-Year appeal – Not an “annual lamentation of desperation;” Say, “Look at what we have accomplished with your generosity!;” Say, “Look at what we anticipate next year.”

The Bottom Line:

NBC TV concludes its evening broadcast with a thematic story, called “Making a Difference” – Like the “End result” of changing lives – Our mission: creating a culture of generosity. It is a vital catalyst in “making a difference.”

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

 

“Stewardship and Culture” course in January

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person-w-cross-signI’m excited to teach an online course on “Stewardship and Culture: Building Contagious Generosity” this next Jan. 9 through Feb. 11. Registration will be open beginning in December at transformingthechurch.org. The class will feature four audio-video presentations, an interactive online Class Forum, and four weekly live conference calls on Saturdays, Jan. 21 and 28 and Feb. 4 and 11. We’ll begin with a conference call on Jan. 9 to introduce ourselves to the class, website, and one another.

The course will explore how aspects of our North American culture influence our practice of stewardship and giving. Students will frame critical questions about consumerism and God’s vision of sufficiency, recognize the impact of technology and marketing on consumerism, and begin to create an intentional Generosity Plan for their congregation. Topics will include critiquing mainstream-culture assumptions about achievement and individualism, redefining ourselves from consumers to stewards, shifting our focus from “the market of one” to hands-on community work, and strengthening a culture of generosity within our faith network.

“Stewardship and Culture” is sponsored by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, which provides stewardship resources for churches and Christian organizations all across the U.S. and Canada. I look forward to joining in this venture with you!

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub