According to Barna research, only 1 in 5 American church attendees considers the act of giving money as a way to "give to others." Don't lose heart! The more popular responses were to serve and provide emotional support to others, which are great ways to provide community within our local churches. So, how do we create a culture of generosity that includes all of these pieces? Lifeway Generosity talks with pastors and church leaders on the topic of giving. They have some great encouragement for church leaders to step away from ways to increase giving and lead into a culture of generosity.

Let’s list the plays church leaders often run when a giving increase is needed. You may be familiar with some of these. Maybe you have even run a few in your day. Here is a list in no particular order.

1. Three Year Capital Campaign

2. Budget Pledge Drive

3. Special Offering Sunday (Prove The Tithe, I Love My Church, Catch Up Offering)

4. Appeal letter

5. Stand Alone Sermon or Sermon Series

6. Personal approach to key donors

7. Purchase a digital giving platform (after all, companies promise an increase)

8. Regularly mail giving envelopes (again, companies promise an increase)

9. Quit or start passing the offering plate (do the opposite of your current practice)

10. Start doing Offering Sermons right before the offering time.

The truth be told if you run any one of these plays well, you will receive a spike in giving for sure. However, I want to ask a few questions, then let’s apply our answers over the long haul.

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When we run a common generosity play...

-are we thinking mostly of the benefit of the church or the benefit of the giver?

-are we thinking mostly about the immediate need or the long term result?

-are we motivated by current financial pressures, but expecting a joy-filled response?

-are we focused on gaining more transactions or creating discipleship transformation?

-are we leading with church focused language or giver focused principles?

-are we speaking in terms of duty and obligation or hope-filled promises?

Now, take your answers and apply them given they have the power to create a culture. If we feel financial pressure that causes us to run at financial plays in a specific season, will they ever create the joy-filled generosity in our people that the Bible speaks of? So far, every pastor I have met wants to unleash, joy-filled giving. However, the plays we run, and often times how we run them, can create the transactional culture that we are actually trying to avoid.

Here are some ideas that take the plays and turn them into a transformational culture.

-define the culture you desire first, don’t let the plays lead the way

-create financial margin in your spending plan, nothing relieves pressure like margin

-state a yearly goal related to a generous culture (i.e. We desire to inspire 75% of our people to generously respond to the voice of God this year.)

-decide how you will measure this goal each quarter of the year

-create a year-long playbook to accomplish this goal

-involve your entire leadership team in the process

-tell stories and celebrate success across all ministries, all ages, all year long

Then next year, repeat the process. When you lead with a passion for an unstoppable culture, involve your entire team, and measure your progress along the way it is a completely different approach. Avoid leading with pressure and plays. Pursue advanced thinking powered by spiritual outcomes. A transformation will win long term over transactions.

Find the original article "Retiring Old Generosity Plays" by Todd McMichen.