March 10th, 2015

A Lasting Harvest of Generosity

Harvest Church in Billings, Montana had a mountain to climb, or more accurately, a hole to dig out of. In 2010 the leadership discussion was about a $300,000 budget short fall and the looming potential of staff layoffs. This thriving church was on the cusp of a dire financial need and some strategic decisions that would dramatically impact their future culture. If they had to cut key staff what would that do to their growth, momentum, and morale? They exist in Billings, Montana among a non-Bible belt, self-reliant, church-critical crowd. How could they even begin to talk about this financial issue and not destroy the safe culture that they had worked so hard to create?

They engaged the Auxano team to tackle this growth challenge with vision clarity. The resulting plan plan was to build a lasting culture of generosity that was rooted in the vision of the church. Many times churches need a short infusion of dollars for a special project like a mission partnership, year-end offering, or launching a capital project. However, other times churches need lasting change in the area of growing generous disciples.

The plan was not to design a class or a campaign, rather to develop a powerful, alive culture that continually produced fruit. Toward that end, language, systems, discipleship, strategy, accountability, training, and management all needed to be developed and integrated into the plan.

The results were both immediate and long term. Immediately the church went from a $300,000 shortfall to a $300,000 surplus – a $600,000 swing! But here is the real story two years later…

Increased Giving – Their budget grew from $2.7 million to $4 million (33% increase).

Clear Language – They now have language that directs, describes, and guides generosity conversations, which empowers the staff and leadership.

Empowering Systems – They have systems that identify the different types of givers and giving patterns with defined steps to keep growth moving forward.

Generosity Stories – Stories are being captured and strategically shared

Innovation – They have digital integration both online and through social media

Measures – There is a practical strategy and measures for discipleship.

Missional Engagement – They have expanded campuses across the state and have high stakes involvement in Ethiopia.

I think that their Executive Pastor, Crull Chambless, summed it up best, “Generosity is now shaping our culture, both as leaders and a church.”

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