Often generosity doesn’t happen by accident, or without encouragement, and by providing activities to grow generosity we can enable people to flourish. This is particularly true for younger people, who often show incredible generosity and a desire to live generously and can grow if given the right encouragement and opportunity.
Our churches must demonstrate generosity for people to learn how to be generous and lead generous lives. There are a number of ways that this can be done, and because every context is different, different churches will do this in different ways. But the crucial bit is that something is done.
Ways to activate generosity
Commit as a church to raising enough in 11 months for all the annual costs of the church’s ministry and mission (I.e. 12 months). Then, for harvest month, give away everything you are given. This is a great way of giving visibility to the generosity we want to encourage. The church can explore all the ways it can be generous during this month within its community. It gives a focus to our work to encourage generosity, and is a great testament to the faith of the church and its love for those within its community.
It is sometimes easy for our giving to be something that is spontaneous, and not particularly thought through. It can be – without realising – whatever is left after the rest of the financial decisions have been made. It can also be promoted by guilt or embarrassment, and neither are particularly great motivators. We need to encourage thoughtful, planned giving and ’1% more’ can do this. People are encouraged to plan their giving, and to commit to increasing their giving by 1% of their net income each year. In this way, we can anticipate and plan how we will do this, and it becomes ingrained and thought through. It can be a powerful tool for developing a generous life. As with all giving, care needs to be taken to ensure everyone is giving within their means and they have fully thought through the decisions they are making.
Sometimes it can be good to give people the opportunity to decide how the church should be generous. When you have a church offertory, divide the offertory up and put it into enough envelopes so there is one for everyone in the congregation. At the end of the service you then give everyone an envelope and ask them to give its contents to whoever they think needs it the most. This be a really powerful way of encouraging people to think about the needs within their community, and the real privilege and blessing it is to give.
Many churches give generously to charities and causes both locally and overseas each year. For such churches, longstanding relationships with mission partners are a key part of their ministry and mission as a community of Christ. If your church would like to start giving, or is already doing so, there are a few things you need to consider to ensure you are giving both legally and ethically. Read our guidance on charitable giving.