July 25, 2016

Free Generosity Message Outline

sending support light bulbRecently I had the opportunity to dust off my preaching shoes. I have not spoken in a Sunday morning worship service in at least six years, so lend me a little grace if you do not mind. Thank you to Pastor Chuck Carter and the people of FBC Windermere, FL – I had a blast!

Let me begin with a little insight into FBC Windermere, FL. Despite being landlocked for years, the church continues to creatively expand its reach. They have five services, three unique worship styles, and two different physical locations that are a 10-minute drive apart. This includes both live and video venues along with an online campus. To learn more about FBC Windermere visit their website here: www.fbcwindermere.com.

For many pastors, generosity is a challenging subject. I will not go into all the reasons, because you already know them. However, I am passionate about this topic and thought my talk on “God’s Big Prosperous Dream” could help open some new windows of opportunity for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has a dream for your life and Proverbs 11 contains key insights into how God’s dream for your life and generosity are linked.

I have attached the outline for you along with a link to watch the video.

http://auxa.no/2a5VKOy

http://www.fbcwindermere.com/?sermons=gods-big-prosperous-dream

 

Generous Life logo

I have recently partnered with LifeWay to co-create Generous Life, a five-week stewardship emphasis to help guide you toward creating a culture of gospel-centered generosity in your church. Generous Life is available at http://auxa.no/29Uy1Le as a digital download.

July 20, 2016

$11 Million Reasons Vision Matters: The Calvary Clearwater Story

x150Imagine for a moment that the future of your church’s successful completion of the Mission depended on the acquisition of an Italian American Club, the building of a gym for a school, and developing a permanent facility for your smallest campus. Each of these projects in and of themselves could feel very small. They are rather disconnected in affinity, scope, and proximity. Even when you combine them together, they would still not tell the grand story of God’s future dream.

This is where Pastor Willy Rice and Calvary Church in Clearwater, FL found themselves. Their God Dream and Vision Frame would become a valuable tool in catalyzing a powerful movement forward. These small, isolated projects became a part of a bigger 10-year dream. The church leadership would look to its strengths and the past work of God. From this an “x150 Vision” was birthed.

The main campus needed to expand its acreage so it could extend its ministry in the future. God had used the young school to see great success. Students were being raised up to impact culture, even resulting in future church staff members in their multi-campus ministry. The Clearwater Campus was ready to multiply again. They saw a third campus in their near future. The East Lake Campus was filling every seat in multiple hours. Its dramatic growth was now at a ceiling. A church plant was being launched in Pittsburgh. Finally, their needs would take them overseas with the starting of new congregations.

These projects actually rose from the past work of God and now had cracked the door open seeing into the future. They were just a small glimpse of God’s bigger dream. Calvary would launch a “Decade dream of multiplying by 100 churches internationally, 25 churches nationally and 25 churches locally.” The result was $11 million given by Calvary people toward the Vision with over $2 million being received immediately in cash. This was the largest amount that had been given in their long 150-year history.

Here is what we learned:Calvary Worship

1. You can fund a project or you can resource a Vision.

The church will always have projects. Sometimes they will be great, like a new worship center, relocation, or an orphanage overseas. However, sometimes you will be called to do little things, repair some things, or update some stuff. Every choice we make should always point toward the fulfillment of the bigger Vision. Our response should not be limited to what we like about a project or how we personally value it. The Vision of the church should be so clear that conversations are moved beyond the small to celebrating the big.

2. You can be a motivator of people raising money or you can disciple them using your Vision Frame.

Capital campaigns date back to the science of marketing in the early 1900’s. This is where the fund raising thermometer was born. Fund raising is typically seen as a short run initiative that results in a large influx of dollars. It can feel uncomfortable to the leader and outside of normal culture. The staff can even dread it, though all know it is necessary.

When projects, needs, and money are thrust to the forefront, the pressure of fund raising can force an untrue vision – one that is not anchored strongly in the past or seen clearly directing the future. These short-term, isolated campaigns while creating momentary success can erode future confidence. Calvary has changed the conversation forever. It’s no longer about money, but about global impact. The “X150 Vision” will be measured by immediate action, as each initiative is now live toward the 10-year goal. Three years of giving will turn into a steady surplus of resources.

3. You can get stuck in complexity or you can release people toward your 10-year Horizon Story Line.

Many pastors lack the confidence it takes to talk about money. Church people don’t always understand how certain projects actually move the church forward. If Pastor Willy Rice had gotten stuck in the complexity of projects and experienced a lack of confidence, he would have never seen the two young girls who went door to door in their neighborhood selling pencils, because they wanted something to give. The unemployed homeless man would have not received his blessing of two job offers. The new family would have remained on the sideline. The businessman would have never dreamed about how to live a big life by connecting his resources to an unreached group of people. You see, everyone dreams and everyone has resources whether big or small. God has a dream for all of our resources to accomplish exponentially more for us, in us, and through us.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to what Pastor Willy Rice concluded. “Finally, let me conclude this exciting report by saying our X150 campaign has changed the conversation at Calvary. We now speak of our church vision as not addition, but multiplication. The impetus to multiply leaders and churches has created a momentum that cannot be ignored. Pray with me that God will grant it for His glory and that as Calvary moves past our 150th anniversary, we will not move past this new dream of multiplying by 150 over the coming decade. May it be a driving vision for the coming decade and by God’s grace may the dream become a reality. Your faithfulness and generosity in our X150 campaign is a huge step forward to seeing that very thing happen.”

For more information on Calvary’s “X150” click here (http://www.calvarybaptist.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=296405&articleId=56961).

To view Calvary’s 1/4/1/4 and Horizon Storyline vivid descriptions click here.

June 8, 2016

Moving From Financial Deficit to Abundance

moving from financial deficit to abundanceThe following is a guest post by one of our Lead Navigators, David Putman. David can be reached at davidp@auxano.com.

Somewhere I picked up the line, “Your vision will always outpace your resources.” Can you relate? Do you find yourself in the position where you always need more money for more ministry? For the majority of us the answer is a resounding YES! When it comes to money there always seems to be more month than money. Unfortunately, great opportunities come and go simply because we lack the resources to take advantage of them.

What if it doesn’t have to be this way! What if the issue isn’t a lack of available resources? What if the lack of resources is a leadership issue? For many of us I believe this is the case. Let’s be honest. Many of us lack the skill and competency to move from a deficit to an abundance of resources for kingdom impact. It isn’t that we are bad leaders. It just happens to be where we are at and the good news now is we can do something about it. Where do we start? Why not determine that the one big thing for this next year is going to be moving our financial needle from deficit to abundance. Here are some thoughts and best practices on getting there.

Start with Vision Clarity

When I assess the causes I’m giving to, there is always a clear and compelling vision behind it. I have no question what problem my resources will help solve. One of the ministries I support is a fast growing church planting movement among the Iranians. One way I can support them is by providing New Testaments at the cost of $6.00 each. For every New Testament we put in the hand of an Iranian, there are five to six Iranians who come to Christ.

Often when I do vision clarity and generosity work with churches I tell them this story and ask them, “What’s your Iran?” General appeals for resources get a general response. Abundance begins when we give people a compelling reason to give within the local church. People want to be a part of something significant. They want to do more than turn on the lights. They want to solve a problem that creates a better world.

Budget on Last Year’s Income

It doesn’t stop with vision. If we are going to have an abundant harvest of resources to invest in the kingdom, we must look at how we operate. A common practice in setting the church budget is to take last year’s receipts and add a certain percentage to that number based on anticipated growth in attendance and giving. If last year’s income was $500,000 we may anticipate a 10% growth in giving, so we set our new budget at $550,000. This is not necessarily a best practice or even a good practice.

What if instead we budget on last year’s income or even went a step further and budgeted on less than last years budget? What if instead of budgeting on $550,000 or even $500,000 we budgeted on $450,000?

What if while we budgeted on $450,000, our giving grows to $550,000? Now we get to live in abundance. Instead of fighting for budget we have a surplus to invest in the kingdom, margin for the lean times, and/or a head start on the next big capital need.

Rethink Your Percentages

In addition to budgeting on last year’s numbers, we need to rethink how we spend our budgets. We have found a consistent model for budget planning that allocates 50% on staffing, 25% on facilities, and 25% on ministry and missions. Whenever our staffing cost goes up, it has to come from somewhere. If the cost of our facilities increases, then a church has to cutback on ministry, staffing, raise additional dollars, or they enter into a deficit.

Driving down your numbers can be another way of creating an abundance of financial resources. Some churches have found the best way to do this is by lowering their staffing cost. This doesn’t mean that they pay their staff less and reduce the level of their benefits. It simply means that they expect staff to equip volunteers to lead ministries.

These churches often operate with 35% to 40% of their budget going to staff. This is radically different than how I was taught to budget. We budgeted to grow by adding staff even when we couldn’t afford it. We would rationalize it by saying things like, “A good staff member always pays for himself or herself.” Maybe you can relate. To be completely honest, it seldom or almost never worked out for us. We usually ended up cutting something or someone we deemed less strategic. It was the constant proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Develop a Robust Leadership System

You can’t reduce your investment in staff without developing a robust leadership system. To do this we need volunteers that can lead. Paul put it this way, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV).

In our work with churches across the nation it’s common to find an abundance of volunteers, but a deficit when it comes to volunteers who are actually leading. Churches that are able to dial back on staffing have an intentional process in place to raise-up an abundant harvest of leaders who can serve in strategic places eliminating the need for paid staff in certain places.

Create a Generous Disciple Pathway

At the end of the day we will never experience abundance if we don’t develop generous disciples. Disciple making at its core is about worldview transformation. We need to disciple people to think about their resources differently. For abundance to take place, we need the mind of Christ. A generous disciple pathway will help disciples navigate toward this new mindset regardless of where they begin. Imagine an intentional pathway that helps occasional givers become regular givers, and regular givers to become tithers, and tithers to become extravagant givers.

If we did this alone it would have an incredible impact on our ability to impact the kingdom. At the same time let’s face the fact that creating generous disciples without the other practices may not lead to abundance. Abundance is the result of a discipline approach that includes all of the practices mentioned above.

Conclusion

Chances are your financial systems are perfectly designed to get the results you are currently getting. Making lasting changes aren’t a matter of doing business as usual. We often believe that change is the result of our wills. Unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know.

Lacking the skills or competency as a leader to create abundance isn’t a failure. Failing to reach out to those who can help you learn new skills or competencies can be. Don’t be a leader that says that you will figure it out and don’t. There’s too much at stake.

Start by using the Generosity Dream Tool to dream a new generosity dream that includes an abundant harvest of resources for kingdom impact. Don’t stop there. Reach out for help! Make creating abundance for kingdom impact your one big thing this year. I promise you that it will have an incredible impact now and in the future.

Want to know more about moving from financial deficit to abundance? Start a conversation with our team.

May 24, 2016

When Generosity Floods

Announce_BigGive_NonProfitsV2Are you ready for a flood? Are you praying for a flood? Are you anticipating a flood? A flood can be devastating, transformative, or a combination of both. Imagine waking up one Sunday morning to learn that torrential rains, road closings, and a local natural disaster in the making are potentially washing your big day away. This was the story of Mike Walker, the Senior Pastor of The Bayou Church.

My first text read, “Attendance was unbelievably low, so were all the other churches I have spoken with…hammered bad.”

Now let me back up and provide some context. The Bayou Church is in Lafayette, LA. Right in the middle of oil country, which has experienced months of financial challenges. While the rest of the country has enjoyed dropping gas prices, long-standing oil communities have been enduring catastrophic loss of income. Year to date, The Bayou Church was experiencing a giving drop of 11%. Imagine losing those resources and the effect it can have immediately on your ministry.

However big this loss may appear to a church leader, it could not overshadow the pain of the loss of local jobs. Individuals and families were hurting, so a strategy was put in place to focus the resources to not compromise the Mission, and also to not ignore the devastation on individuals or families. It was decided, “The Big Give” (a designated offering to five local non-profits serving the hurting in the city) would occur. A multi-month plan was put into place to reframe the church’s resources solely focused on the Mission, create a pathway for individuals to grow in generosity, and to deliver big resources to the points of need in the community.

Then, my next text read, “Here are some early totals…The Big Give $105,000 WOW (designated gifts) plus $41,000 undesignated receipts…so approximately $146,000 day…wow, that is really Courageous Generosity…and when you factor in the attendance was less than half the normal attendance (due to torrential rain and flooding)…Glory To God Amazing!”

Then, my third text arrived, “Todd, just sent the Trustees…Love giving updates on The Big Give. Total on Wednesday afternoon–$151,300. Plus I have 2 verbal’s from strong members that their checks will add to $14,000. That means we’ll have a minimum of $165,000 to build points of light in Acadiana and Transform Lives!!!!!!”

Next, an email update would read, “The Big Give has shown us that we have a big God that has blown us all away with Courageous Generosity. I am still shaking my head in disbelief at what God has done through our people giving $170,000 total to Big Give…Oh don’t forget on top of all that Big Give money, the hearts of The Bayou Church people on Sunday were moved mightily by God. Our budget offering was Spectacular–General Budget $114,000!! To God Be All The Glory!!! Like we have said this is God’s economy.”

The Bayou Church finance office sent us this official bit of perspective of what they saw during the Courageous Generosity Series:

  • Family giving units increased by 40.
  • Monthly contributions to the budget increased by $19,300.
  • Contributions to the budget during and after the series averaged 12% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Giving units during the series averaged 15% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Contributions to the budget on May 8, 2016 totaled $114,000, the 15th highest contribution Sunday in Bayou history! That is amazing, considering an additional $170,000 was donated to The Big Give.

So what were some keys to this flood of generosity?

1. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have a clearly stated Mission that is more important than your circumstances. The Bayou Church’s Mission is to “transform lives in Acadiana through Christ centered relationships.” This Missional Mandate is not measured in money or stopped by physical experiences.

2. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have an inspiring view from the Mountaintop. The Bayou Church has a 10-year Vision in which they will “permeate Acadiana with Christ centered relationships, making this a reality by having a point of light in every neighborhood.” It began by resourcing the community, building bridges for ministry.

3. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have clear Milestones to drive your team, holding all your resources accountable for success. The Bayou Church had determined that by the end of 2016 they would experience “500 families giving generously.” This is so specific that they will know if they succeed.

4. You will experience a flood of generosity when you deliver a path of growth helping your people Measure their steps toward the spiritual discipline of personal generosity. The Bayou Church has a Measure in their Vision Frame that states: “Do I practice generous giving?” This Measure called forth a path of five steps of growth from a Beginning Giver to an Extravagant Giver in order to live Courageous Generosity culminating in The Big Give.

The final text I received sums it up so well, “Almost weeping at the power and glory and awesomeness of God. Wow!”

To learn more about The Big Give:

The Big Give video

Article by the Louisiana Baptist Message

Download The Bayou Church’s Vision Frame

March 30, 2016

Large Church Money Facts

Facts imageRecently we partnered with a leading church research firm to conduct a national survey of hundreds of churches exceeding 1,000 people in worship attendance. Below are some interesting financial learnings I want to pass on to you:

1. 100% of large churches are engaging capital campaigns as a funding strategy.

2. 57% of large churches desire training and will lead their capital campaigns internally rather than hire a traditional capital campaign firm.

3. The #1 named financial challenge was current church debt load.

4. The #2 named financial challenge was aging donor base and not engaging younger donors.

5. The #3 named financial challenge was no strategy in place to encourage generosity.

6. Churches founded prior to 1900 launched the highest percentage of capital campaigns in the last year.

7. Churches over 2,000 in worship attendance showed a higher concern for debt load and aging donor base.

8. Churches between 1,000-1,999 in worship attendance showed the highest concern for lack of a strategy to encourage generosity.

9. The longer the church had been in existence, the more concerned it was with an aging donor base.

10. Churches in existence since 1980 showed the highest concern for debt load.

Facts should lead to clarity. Here is some advice: 

1. Generous churches are led by generous pastors and leaders. Pursue staff wide training as a part of your ongoing culture.

2. Debt is consistently the most limiting fixed expense. Create a culture of generosity to prepare for your future instead of leveraging your future with a burdensome debt load.

3. Don’t exchange a capital campaign for possessing a strategy to grow a generous culture. A commitment card is not the same as a generous life.

4. Go digital to reach the younger generation. Strive for 50% of your receipts to be received outside of the plate or box at the door.

5. A clear vision that creates an unstoppable culture is a powerful tool every pastor needs to possess. Generosity follows opportunity, relationship, and passion.

January 28, 2016

Our Team Is Growing

Kent - Web HeadshotBelow is a guest post by our newest team member, Kent Vincent. Kent can be reached at kent@auxano.com.

After 21 years of local church ministry, I’m excited to join the Resourcing Team of Auxano as a Lead Navigator. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on executive teams of great churches ranging in size from 300 on one campus, to 10,000+ on five campuses. One of the greatest challenges of the local church, big or small, is resourcing. Like you, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy raising money. In fact, I’ve been involved in campaign mode for all but six months of my ministry. Looking back on my campaign experiences, here are five insights that I bring with me into this new role:

1.   Vision vs. Project

Titles like “Time To Build” and “Possess The Land” communicate that the focus is the project, potentially void of a clear and compelling vision that would necessitate the project. Unfortunately, in my experience, the project WAS the vision far too often.

2.   “For” vs. “From”

To “Possess The Land” we need people to give money…a lot of money! We inadvertently focus on getting something “from” them, instead of developing a culture that desires something greater “for” them.

3.   Transformational vs. Transactional

When the campaign ends and the project is completed, we can lack legacy of what God has done in us collectively. We end up possessing a building or land, while missing the opportunity to create a significant movement of spiritual transformation in the process.

4.   Generosity vs. Money

We need money…God desires for us to grow in generosity. A church culture of generosity can only be accomplished through strategic discipleship and the movement of God. Chasing money creates a terrible culture for generosity.

5.   All vs. Select

The goal of any campaign should be 100% participation. A typical campaign can focus a lot of leadership energy courting potential big givers, communicating a powerful message to the rest of the congregation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a family remain seated or skip church during commitment weekend. They felt like they couldn’t participate, because their “widows mite” wouldn’t significantly impact the “hallelujah goal.”

I’ve joined the Resourcing Team of Auxano, because I saw them boldly challenging what I believe has become an outdated and overpriced approach. By elevating the role of vision, leadership, and discipleship, Auxano navigates toward:

1.   Clarity First – campaign goals are contextualized within a well-developed sense of organizational identity and direction.

2.   Process vs. Product – campaign design is emphasized through collaboration not prescription.

3.   Leadership Development – a holistic look at leadership development occurs before, during, and after the campaign.

4.   Discipleship Measurables –there is no such thing as a church vision that is not first a discipleship vision.

The economic crash of 2008 brought about significant change, not only financially, but culturally as well. People have become far more discerning about the dollars they’re investing, requiring a clear return of impact on that investment. Smart leaders are doing the hard work of identifying their Church Unique, clarifying and communicating their compelling vision, creating margin by simplifying programming, and growing generous disciples that are taking the Church to their own neighborhoods. I believe that we’re once again getting back to what God intended His local church to be. Join the movement!

 

January 19, 2016

6 Givers Jesus Knew

jar of coinsSharing stories of people doing both good and great things inspires others. When it comes to giving, people can often feel shame and inadequacy. However, the Bible reveals great nuggets from people who lived attainable generous lives on an every day basis. I was recently reading through the Gospel of Luke and was captured by these stories of generosity. Jesus introduces us to men and women, both mature and immature in their faith. He describes both real and fictional characters engaged in very normal activities; still they manage to live abundantly generous lives. Some of these characters are expected while others are rather unexpected. Here are some giving people that Jesus knew and wants us to know.

Unsuspecting Giver– Luke 8:1-3 tells us about some of the early actions of the 12 disciples and several ladies. These early recruits were newbie’s in the faith, straight out of the marketplace. On top of that, the women are described as formerly having evil spirits, diseases, and demons. This is probably not the list that most would make heroes of or at least not just yet. Still these early adopters who are taking their first steps of faith are said to be supporting Jesus “out of their own means” and Jesus wants to make sure you know them. There are no high and lofty requirements to generosity, just give.

Called Giver– Luke 9:3 and 10:4 introduces us to an extreme giving request of Jesus. He called His early disciples, over 80 of them, to give up everything for the sake of a short-term mission trip. He sent them all out into the harvest, to share the good news and help people with their needs. Jesus called them to go, take nothing, not a dime or a change of clothes, not even a snack. We are called to support Jesus both out of our means and at times by giving up all that we have. Don’t worry, you won’t be the first or last person Jesus asks or sends out – just one of many who have learned to enjoy the adventure.

Compassionate Giver– Luke 10:35 introduces us to a fictional character, but the story is powerfully real. Today we call him The Good Samaritan, a man who allowed his day to be interrupted. He didn’t permit the inconvenience or expense to stop him. Whatever others may say about his investment in a troubled person did not matter. He gave compassionately and comprehensively. No trite pat on the back here. Rather he gave time, energy, and resources over an extended period for a man he may never see again. Giving people are both simple and alert. This story could look a little heroic, but it’s really just common courtesy. If you can’t be stopped in your tracks, you will never be able to give compassionately.

Investing Giver– Luke 10:15ff is another fictional character in a very real situation. It’s a successful businessman tempted by greed. His thriving business has put him in a quandary. His barns are too small, so he builds bigger barns to store his wealth and coast into the future. Only life changes and his money can’t solve his spiritual problem. Focusing on an earthly investment did not pay off as he anticipated. Jesus instructions are to live by faith and don’t trust in worldly wealth. Instead, sell your possessions and give to the poor. This will reap an unstoppable reward and grow a heart toward God. Seeing the future clearly helps us hold loosely to the things of today.

Fake Giver– Luke 18:22 shares about a man who lived on the dark side of generosity. We commonly call him the Rich Young Ruler. He appears to desire a relationship with Jesus; however, as the story unfolds we learn where his heart really is. He is so proud of his religious life, and then Jesus exposes that it is paper-thin. No hero here. This is only a stark reminder that the Rich Young Ruler can be a stealthy resident in the life of very religious people. He chooses to fail at generosity and he had all the resources to accomplish it. How sad.

Transformed Giver– Luke 19:8 provides us with an immediate and rather bold response of faith. It comes from Zacchaeus. He is a brand new follower of Jesus – less than one day. He is really wealthy just like the Investing Giver and the Fake Giver. Jesus doesn’t ask him to show his faith through generosity at all. This still this doesn’t stop Zaccheus from thinking about it on his own. He confesses his financial sins having been a cheat and thief. Then he demonstrates a changed life by giving half of his possessions to the poor and paying back anyone he wronged four times what he owed them. Jesus said we would be known by things like love and fruit. Generosity is a great demonstration of both.

These are just a few of the giving stories in the Bible. Why not pick one of the stories and share it with someone else? Why not make a commitment to learn and live the lessons of one of them this week? You might even consider reading one of the stories to your family and create a family practice of learning to live generously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 1, 2015

In Celebration of #GivingTuesday

2015-Only-Way-to-GiveI am so glad to be living in our current generation where giving and a generous lifestyle are becoming cultural norms. You may or may not know this, but giving is a part of the fabric of our universe. It is actually a path to discover God and become all He desires you to become.

“Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.” www.givingtuesday.org

It is inspiring to watch generosity flourish. To celebrate this day, here are a couple of simple principles that I just can’t escape regarding generosity.

  •  First, God is a very generous God.
  • Second, He created us in His image to be generous people.
  • Third, when we are generous together the world is a better place.
  • Finally, generosity is rewarding to both the giver and receiver. Money can really bind us at times and create many life burdens. Generosity is the path of freedom, joy, and impact.

Our Auxano Team wants to celebrate #givingtuesday and a lifestyle of generous living. When our team was asked to complete the sentence “I am moved to give because…” Here is just some of what they said:

“I am moved to give because God FIRST gave to me.” – Bryan Rose

“I am moved to give because it grows and strengthens my heart to be more like God’s, just like exercising a muscle.” – Will Mancini

“I am moved to give because it’s a privilege to give back to God what He has so richly blessed me with.” – Bob Adams

“I am moved to give because God owns everything and He’s entrusted much to us.” – Clint Grider

“I am moved to give because I believe in the model of generosity. (My parents modeled generosity and challenged me to be generous. This may be their greatest legacy and one I hope to model to my own children.)” – Chris Rivers

“I am moved to give because God has blessed me so much and now I get to bless others.” – David Putman

“I am moved to give because sharing with others is God’s example and we live our lives through Him.” – Tessy Rice

“I am moved to give because there is a need.” – Mike Gammill

“I am moved to give because the Holy Spirit prompts me.” – Jim Randall

“I am moved to give because there is so much need.” – Andrea Kandler

“I am moved to give because it keeps my life focused on what is important.” – Todd McMichen

November 16, 2015

The Generosity Prayer

GenerosityPrayer_InstagramI know you’ve heard of “The Serenity Prayer which was said to be authored by Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930’s or 1940’s.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs have adopted these powerful 27 words. Over the years it has been prayed by millions of people searching for wisdom, courage, and peace in their time of need.

I would like to introduce you to The Generosity Prayer, which is inspired by 2 Corinthians 9:8-11.

“Thank you, Lord, for blessing me in all ways, at all times, with more than I need. Lead me to live generously, share joyfully, and look expectantly toward my future.

This prayer is a positive confession, a powerful request, and a hopeful promise. It acknowledges the truth that generosity begins with God, and is then followed by a request to grow in a lifestyle of faithful and generous living. Finally, it concludes by reminding us that generosity isn’t something that robs our future, but insures it of provision. I have found it to be easy to remember and really helpful in providing me with a proper life perspective by recalibrating my thoughts, eyes, heart, and hands. I encourage you to pray this prayer repeatedly for 30 days. As we look toward Thanksgiving, now would be a great time to begin!

October 5, 2015

Five Givers You Need to Know

Give PhotoI have been reading through the Bible this year and journaling about all things related to generosity. It has been an amazing journey as I have learned about the generous nature of God and how faithful He is. I have also watched business leaders rise up with extreme generosity, as well as seeing how life can easily distract us from a giving lifestyle. However, the variety of ways God leads people to be generous has been especially inspiring. Here are just a few:

The Spontaneous Giver can be seen in the young boy with his fishes and loaves (John 6:9).I do not think this young man woke up that day committed to giving away all he had. However, when the surprise opportunity arose he held loosely to his stuff. Jesus then took his meager stuff and blessed thousands. Live with an open hand seeking much fruit.

The Devoted Giver can be seen in Cornelius (Acts 10:2). The Bible says that he was devout, prayerful, and generous. He lived this way both privately and publicly. It was how he led his family and also how he led his career (see Acts 10:7). In this passage we learn that his consistent devotion was recognized by God and he was honored with a greater assignment.

The Faith-Filled Giver can be seen in the widow and her offering (Luke 21:2). This passage really interested me because of its level of description. This poor widow gave two small copper coins. Her gift just keeps getting smaller and smaller the more words the author uses. However, her result, as stated by Jesus, was she gave more than everyone else because she gave all she had to live on. Evidently Jesus does measure the faith amount. He makes small things big.

The Creative Giver can be seen in Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37). Barnabas had something valuable. A piece of property he owned. However, his eternal perspective and the needs around him caused a generous response. The property he owned was actually a gift from God to meet the needs of another. He sold the property and brought 100% of the proceeds to the apostles so they could meet the needs of the community. Ananias and Sapphira pretended to do the same in Acts 5. I love how these two stories are found back to back in the Bible.

The Crazy Giver can be seen in the lady with her alabaster jar of perfume (Mark 14:3). This extremely generous gift was given directly to and benefitting Jesus. The Bible tells us that this perfume was worth more than an entire year’s wage! It was such a crazy-big gift it shocked those who were present. They actually rebuked her for being wasteful – instead Jesus applauded her. He says it is a clear reminder of how generous the gospel really is.

While each of these stories stands powerfully on its own, they are even more challenging when you consider the variety of ages, cultural backgrounds, religious upbringing, and financial capacities of the individuals. We have no excuses to avoid a generous life. I also love that the word “tithe” is never used. Instead we are challenged to give far beyond 10%. Why not pick out one of these givers and practice this week? If you are a church leader, make sure you are teaching and leading by example. Generosity shouldn’t be a sermon preached when we have a need, but a daily practice of a transformed life.