March 10, 2015

Beggars Can’t Grow Choosers

beggars can't be choosers photoI attend more church staff meetings in a given month than you can imagine. I have been consulting for years, so it has become easy to quickly discern culture. Sometimes I can even tell the staff member’s job title by how they are dressed, what they bring (or don’t bring) to a meeting, or what time they arrive. Culture can’t be stopped and is easily caught.

The most pervasive cultural element that transcends church size, denomination, or location is a culture of begging vs. leading. Here are a few examples:

• “Our people are so disengaged.”
• “We have such a hard time getting people to participate in groups.”
• “It’s the same people who volunteer for everything. We need more volunteers.”
• “Our people just don’t give like they should.”

This kind of language can result in blaming, shaming, and begging. It can promote a negative language that creeps out from a staff meeting to the people without you even knowing it. When you find yourself on the wrong side of the problem, you can become event, sign up, or emphasis oriented. Seeking these quick fixes and short-term solutions will only dig a deeper hole – even if you gain immediate relief. This is fool’s gold.

You must change your leadership language and culture and be able to confidently tell your people things like this:

“We do not need more volunteers or money! You are so generous and our leadership is so faithful that we run a surplus. However, we encourage you to serve and give for your sake. It is where you will find many blessings. It is where you grow, connect, and make a difference. You will find freedom, joy, and victory.”

Don’t expect to just show up this weekend saying these words as if they magically create culture. You must grow vision culture and develop strategy before you have a problem. This gives you the freedom and power to direct your resources (e.g., emotions, words, people, time, and money). You want your people to feel like they “get to do something great” instead of feeling that they’ve “got to do something painful.” Make powerful leadership decisions before you have a problem. If you already have a problem, then own it as a leader. Don’t run to the quick fix, feel good, high-pressure emphasis. Fix it right over time with process.

March 3, 2015

How to Move People From the Sidelines to Full Engagement in Your Next Campaign

mike-gammill

Mike Gammill

The following is a guest post by Mike Gammill, Lead Navigator at Auxano.

My first memory of a capital campaign forms the image of a 2×3 foot poster neatly taped to a wall with a hand-drawn thermometer on it. I was ten years old and my church was raising $50,000 (an inconceivable sum and thus an insurmountable goal) to “save the camp.” I still remember my surprise when success was announced. What had I missed? Is a camp really worth $50,000? Somewhat awestruck I asked myself, “Who among us has that kind of money to spare?”

As a Vision Clarity Lead Navigator with Auxano, I also help clients with capital campaigns from a clarity first perspective. I’ve found that the two questions I asked myself as a ten-year-old get more sophisticated, but they don’t really change. Until our folks internalize why we are doing this project right now, they will be watching from the sidelines wondering why we’re talking about money (again) and who is going to step up.

A Clarity First, Vision-based Capital Campaign prioritizes why and how the project will advance your church’s mission. Follow the classic campaign principle to make the project clear, but make sure the vision that is driving it shines clearer. A clear and properly ordered connection between your vision and the project will not only help you reach your campaign goals, but it can also prevent the project from replacing the church’s vision. A building-first vision has long been a danger to the people of God and transforms a necessary provision of your vision into a significant obstacle. At worst, a congregation can lose its identity entirely and degenerate into a not-for-profit charity or construction company.

Vision Casting for a Campaign:

  • Frame the campaign in the context of God’s action in the history of the church.
  • Show how the project will help you advance the church’s mission.
  • Paint a vivid picture of the better future the project can help to create.
  • Connect your congregation emotionally with why we are doing this now.
  • Each person has a place in making the project happen.
  • Your mission is part of the larger Great Commission.

From three-minute conversations, to an entire sermon series, we want our folks to envision a better future and see how they can help make it happen.

Thinking back over the decades since my first memory of the $50,000 campaign to save the camp, I can see that I had no better ability as a ten-year-old to understand the real world value of $50,000 than I did a camp. However, if someone could have given me a glimpse into the future for me to see the role that camp was going to play in my spiritual formation (and thousands of others) over the following decades…the camp would have become priceless and $50,000 would have been transformed from an inconceivable sum into a mission-critical objective.

March 3, 2015

6 Best Practice Tips for the XP

David Putman

David Putman

The following is a guest post by David Putman, Lead Navigator at Auxano.

I was given a campaign manual on my first day as an XP. That’s right, I got my first assignment and it was to lead our growing church plant through a capital campaign that would allow us to double our space. Over the next six years, I found myself in back-to-back campaigns as our church attendance grew from 500 to over 2,000 people in weekend attendance. I learned some valuable lessons and some best practices during those six years that I want to pass on to you.

Slow Down in Order to Speed Up

When it comes to campaigns everyone is in a hurry. Proper prep takes time especially when it’s linked to expanding your space. Most of us pastor types (human types) want everything right now. Determining the scope of a project, the consultant, the lender, the architect, the site issues, along with a dozen more issues are critical to address if your campaign is going to be successful. The more focused you are as you begin, the greater the impact and results. Often the best way to speed up the entire process is to slow down.

Hire the Right Consultant

I’m not sure what would have happened if we had not hired the right consultant from day one. Failing to engage a consultant may actually cost you tens of thousands of dollars in the long haul. Yes, there are fees involved when you hire a good consultant, A good consultant can be costly, but I promise you it’s the best money you can spend if you want to maximize your campaign. You will find these characteristics in a top-notch consultant:

• Calling – Do they have a passion for helping the local church?

• Competent – Do they have a proven track record as a campaign consultant and do they have local church experience?

• Character – Do they do what they say they’ll do? What do are other people say about who they are?

• Chemistry – Do they understand and fit your culture?

Let the Senior Leader Call the Shots

First, the Senior Pastor must have buy-in and be engaged. Clearly, every senior leader leads differently. I’ve been in situations where the senior leader wanted to micro-manage every detail. I’ve been in other situations where he wanted to be told “when” and “where.” As an XP it should always be your goal to help the senior leader succeed. So lean into his or her leadership style to accomplish this. My starting point as an XP was, “What is it that I must have from the senior leader for this to succeed?” I made sure he was freed up to actually do that. My job began with his job.

Link Your Campaign to Vision

Campaigns tend to be too focused on money. The place we need to begin is vision. A good campaign will always start and end with vision. Vision clarity is a must. People give to vision, not to buildings unless it’s part of a larger vision.

Listen to Your Consultant

Don’t assume you know more about the campaign than your consultant. I have found that there are times when leadership resists listening to their consultant. This happens when the church has had a previous win or big success. Unfortunately, a previous win doesn’t mean the next one will go just as well. It often doesn’t.

Work Really Hard

Campaigns are hard work. Effective campaigns are even harder. The harder you work, the greater the results. Don’t take shortcuts during this season. Plan on working long, hard days. It will pay off.

I hope these tips will guide you to run a successful campaign that will help you advance your mission and make disciples.

February 24, 2015

Not Top 10 Characteristics of a Generous Church

True:FalseI constantly hear pastors bemoan why their church is not more generous. “Our people just don’t give enough” or “We aren’t a rich church” are the two most common replies I encounter. It is so easy for expansive generosity to be considered a gift for someone else. Before you write off your generosity potential, here is my top 10 list of non-characteristics of a generous church.

1. Generous Churches are huge.

False: They come in all sizes.

2. Generous Churches are filled with rich people.

False: They are filled with growing people.

3. Generous Churches are in the Bible Belt.

False: They are anywhere.

4. Generous Churches are older and more mature.

False: They are changed, focused, and passionate.

5. Generous Churches are growing rapidly.

False: They are consistently aligned.

6. Generous Churches are only about numbers.

False: They are about impact.

7. Generous Churches have a charismatic leader.

False: They are a led by a visionary leader.

8. Generous Churches are in big cities.

False: They are where a generous leader is.

9. Generous Churches have a large staff and budget.

False: They have a leadership pipeline and spend strategically.

10. Generous Churches have small visions.

False: They pray and live boldly.

Consistently I find that one characteristic above all others can be found every time you encounter a generous church – a generous staff being led by a generous pastor.

February 10, 2015

Helping the Lead Discipler Talk About Money

MicrophoneMoney is an interesting topic. Everybody wants it, yet it tends to create so much stress. Example, payday feels great but bill day sucks. You might find yourself laying awake at night worrying about how you are going to a pay a medical bill or find yourself in pure joy watching your child rush to the mailbox to retrieve a birthday card. Then, you have men in your church that feel driven both at work and home to earn more and more – while their wives fear the insecurity of today will never end. Money is a powerful voice in our lives. We love and hate it at the same time.

If you are a pastor I would like to ask you a few questions about money, then offer some guidance.

1. Do you know the financial condition of your flock? People chase stuff that doesn’t really solve problems. They need help. What if the only financial wisdom your congregation ever received came from you? People need help, real help, and direction when it comes to money. They are looking for a leader. I’m sure you have read Proverbs 27:23-24 and applied it to your ministry. Read it again and take note that it is a passage based on taking good care of your business resources. It’s actually a stewardship verse. You need to take daily care of your resources or you will not have any. You need to help your flock or they will be hurting.

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.” (Proverbs 27:23-24 NIV)

2. Are you discipling your people financially? There are messages everywhere about money. If you watch the news you may think global calamity is right around the corner. If you read a magazine cover you may think that the path to feeling better is a new outfit. If you go to school you may learn the place of acceptance is in the car you drive. Yet money comes and goes. It can be rather uncontrollable. Is there something we can count on? Yes, it is God’s word. It is flawless and can direct our lives, even our financial lives. We need to help people make the great exchange from chasing the temporary to trusting in the permanent.

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Proverbs 30:5 NIV)

3. Are you a confident stewardship leader? Most pastors I meet really struggle to confidently answer this question. It isn’t due to a lack of desire, but it is a lack of a resources, time, and understanding. Most of us have not even been discipled ourselves on this topic, so how can we confidently lead others? It is so easy to find yourself spinning your wheels. Your people and church can really struggle with how to handle the funding issue. Plenty comes in, but plenty also goes out. Will there ever be a time of financial peace or even surplus? Is it possible to enjoy a true enduring free culture of generosity?

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” (Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV)

Leading a Generous Church coverHelp has arrived. Several years ago I was reading through Proverbs and noticed that every chapter contained multiple jewels of wisdom about money. Recently, I took the time to put together a simple 31-day journey through Proverbs for a staff team to experience together. It contains a daily nugget and weekly team up exercise. If you are struggling with confidence in being the lead financial disciple, or if you just want to sharpen the skills on your team, click on the following link to submit a form to be contacted when Leading a Generous Church: Making Disciples without Chasing Money is released.

http://www2.auxano.com/l/28802/2013-10-01/p

December 18, 2014

Top 20 Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting

well-doneChristmas is the one time of the year when giving is on the forefront of everyone’s mind and possibly heart. You can witness it in the retailer raking it in, the mom preparing for guests, or the Salvation Army volunteer ringing that bell. Every where you go it is the season of giving. Then soon all your money will be spent and it will become the season of regretting those credit card payments. Which means the back side of gift giving can feel very different than the front side.

Giving joyfully then regretting painfully is no fun. Giving should be 100% rewarding all the time. How can we discover this? Can we move to an incredible lifestyle of consistency, dependability, and the rewarding life of generosity? A place where the front side and back side of giving are equally meaningful. Giving is fun at Christmas, but can be painful at church. Why?

I love the book of Proverbs. Virtually every chapter in Proverbs contains amazing life wisdom about finances, resources, marketplace, and generosity. I took the time to put together a brief list of the Top 20 Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting. The key is to lean into all the promises, blessings, and rewards from God. Enjoy!

1. Your Life Success Is Held In God’s Hand. When you are giving you are not losing. Your life success is in His hands, not your hands. Your ability to achieve does not guarantee success; however, your willingness to surrender does.

He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, (Proverbs 2:7 NIV)

2. Your Life Treasures Are Multiplied When They Are Released. When you give to God you are really giving back to God. It was never yours to start with. When we live with an open hand God is able to release what He wants us to have.

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 NIV)

3. Your Life Will Not Want For More. What is it like to not want anything more than what you currently have? To not worry about today, tomorrow, or the next. God promises He’s got it, so be generous.

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:3 NIV)

4. Your Life Can Receive Undeserved Blessings. I like getting rewards, but I like undeserved, surprise rewards by grace even better. Load me up, Lord!

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. (Proverbs 10:22 NIV)

5. Your Life Can Make An Impact In Your City. Everyone wants to live a life that counts. Usually we think a life of significance is for the mature or successful. Maybe you dream about it happening one day for you. You probably think you need to get some problems solved or gain a new career. Wrong, live righteously today and your city will be blessed.

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. (Proverbs 11:10-11 NIV)

6. Your Life Will Be Prosperous To The Level You Are Generous. It is not about giving to get. However, you can’t stop God from wanting to bless you. So just give and let Him do his thing. It’ll be okay. Maybe even better than okay.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

7. Your Life Career Will Be Rewarded. Wake up everyday, work hard, and ask God to bless your work. He wants you to be successful at what you do. Bloom where you are planted.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. (Proverbs 12:11 NIV)

8. Your Life Savings Will Expand Little By Little. Giving to others doesn’t mean not giving to yourself for future needs and opportunities. You might not see the reward of faithfulness today, but little by little it grows a great return.

Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11 NIV)

9. Your Life Will Honor God When You Honor The Poor. Giving to the poor is wonderful, especially when it is the same as honoring God. Every imperfect, hurting, selfish person can honor God. That’s an amazing thought.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Proverbs 14:31 NIV)

10. Your Life Will Be Protected If You Find Yourself Alone. Being alone and the fear of doing without is scary. God protects us when we need to be protected.

The Lord tears down the house of the proud, but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place. (Proverbs 15:25 NIV)

11. Your Life Will Experience Favor When You Serve Your Leaders. Humility and service are also expressions of generosity. Rebellion, selfishness, disrespect, and entitlement are, well, the opposite. God blesses you when you respect authority figures in your life.

When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring. (Proverbs 16:15 NIV)

12. Your Life Will Go Places When You Give. Jesus said that the last will be first and the first will be last. He also said that He came to serve and not to be served. Do likewise.

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. (Proverbs 18:16 NIV)

13. Your Life Can Give Without Sparing. Need and greed compete with giving. Givers have given long enough to know God gives without sparing so it is okay to do the same.

All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26 NIV)

14. Your Life Will Become Free When You Stop Depending On Yourself. You can not make yourself rich. God creates, disperses, and takes away as He pleases. You will always be standing on the same level ground as everyone else no matter your home address.

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:2 NIV)

15. Your Life Will Relax When You Realize God Made Money To Come And Go, So Let It Go. Money is simply paper or metal to be circulated among all God’s creation. It is never really yours to keep, so share it.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. (Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV)

16. Your Life Hope Is Permanently Secure. Change happens and it can be very unnerving. Today change happens rapidly and repeatedly. Money won’t stop change from occurring nor can it provide you permanent peace or hope. God has your future secured and it is a hopeful one.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18 NIV)

17. Your Life Will Become Consistent When Your Priorities Are In Place. God gave you principles, laws, and truth for your benefit. He does the same for your financial life. Follow the truth and you will be blessed. I think you probably know what the alternative is. You reap what you sow.

Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. (Proverbs 24:27 NIV)

18. Your Life Will Be Rewarded When You Give To Your Enemies. Giving can be fun, but it can also be hard. Then sometimes, it can be really hard. God has a gift for you when you do the really hard thing like live generously towards your enemies.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV)

19. Your Life Will Become As Generous Is You Envision It To Be. Vision matters both at work, church, and home. No passion, no priorities, no plan, then no reward. Discover God’s unique vision for you and live it.

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Proverbs 29:18 NIV)

20. Your Life Will Expand When You Focus On Today. Focus doesn’t limit, it expands. Give today all you’ve got at every moment. Be generous when you pray, think, drive, shop, talk, work, and live. You will find more ways to be generous than you imagined. God will care for tomorrow and all it’s worries.

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV)

If you are a preacher, I dare you to turn this into a sermon series. If you do, let me know. I’d love to see it.

Want to walk through Proverbs with your team to discover how every chapter contains multiple jewels of wisdom about money? If you are struggling with confidence in being the lead financial disciple, or if you just want to sharpen the skills on your team, please check out my book, Leading a Generous Church.

December 3, 2014

Stop Campaigning and Start Discipling

Mainstreet logo_originalRecently, Auxano was engaged by Mainstreet Church in the greater Toledo, Ohio area to help rethink how they would continue to fund their vision. Under the leadership of Lead Pastor, Marty Pennington, the church had taken a leap of faith, constructed a new campus, and relocated to the new facilities enabling them to build relationships that move more people to full devotion to Christ. However, this new level brought about new resourcing challenges. The church had a healthy debt load that needed to be addressed and an ever-increasing cycle of one campaign after another. Each campaign resulted in lower participation percentages, a reduction in cash offerings, and smaller financial commitments by their members. Mainstreet was experiencing “campaign fatigue.” Campaign fatigue sets in when members of the church become weary of the repetitive cycle of campaign after campaign with no apparent end in sight. For both leaders and members, fatigue quickly grows into frustration and weariness. The church was at a resourcing crossroads and had several challenges that needed to be overcome.

• How do we continue to fund the vision?

• How do we stop the campaign cycle?

• How do we re-energize leaders?

• How do we disciple believers in the area of generosity?

• How do we increase the number of people who are financially contributing to the vision of the church?

So what did Campaigns by Auxano recommend? Stop Campaigning and Start Discipling! The church courageously hit the pause button on their next campaign and developed a comprehensive discipleship plan around their “give fully” spiritual mark. They identified four stages of “giving fully” for Christ followers: emerging, engaged, growing, and generous. Members were challenged to assess their stage and take the essential steps to go to the next stage. The clear challenge was to “grow up” in the area of generosity. For some that meant to start tithing. For others it meant that God was calling them to become generous “above and beyond” givers. Mainstreet’s prayer was to create a culture of generosity among a broader base of their membership and provide a break in the campaign cycle.

growing1So what happened? Despite enduring the worst weather on record and its impact on their Sunday morning attendance, the church had amazing spiritual and numerical results:

• a 38% immediate giving increase for the first 12 weeks of the generosity initiative

• a 16% sustainable increase in budget giving beyond the first 12 weeks of the generosity initiative

• more people contributing financially to the work of the church than ever before

• a new generosity culture language that is empowering discipleship and making the mission transferable

• a clearly designed and supported growth pathway from being an emerging giver to a generous disciple

When you bring the entire staff together, articulate a clear vision, and create a comprehensive discipleship strategy, churches can grow a generous culture that will produce immediate and sustainable results. Of course, you can keep campaigning if that is more fun!

November 25, 2014

Good to Great to Anointed

Good Great Annoited Blog PhotoHave you ever been a part of a good church? How about a great one? Still even better, have you been on a run when you experienced a unique anointing from God? I know when you begin to differentiate between good, great, and anointed you can get on sketchy ground when it comes to churches. Nevertheless, I have definitely experienced some leadership intangibles that are rather consistent, and I would like to pass them on to you.

Here is how I would describe good, great, and anointed for the sake of this blog. A good church is steady and consistent. A great church is in the midst of an exponential return. An anointed church is experiencing something supernatural that can only being explained by the divine interruption of God.

While I have no science to offer, I have intuitively noticed some leadership habits in churches that are enjoying a good ministry as a base, are on a great journey, and in a period of anointing. While I don’t think you can formulate a unique movement of God, I would like to encourage you with a few leadership patterns I have found repeatedly. I hope they spur you to chase the person of Christ and not the form of an above average institution.

1. A deep commitment on the staff to personal holiness and the priority of family.
2. A strong conviction and reliance on the authority of Scripture over life.
3. A personal calling to that specific location.
4. A daily reliance on God in prayer and a keen sense of listening to his leadings. (regular fasting is common)
5. A humility and flexibility to do whatever it takes even if that means dramatic change.
6. A willingness to fail.
7. A demonstrated passion for personal evangelism and life change.
8. A leaning towards bold faith decisions.
9. A powerfully clear and unique vision.
10. A surrender to pursue only the glory of God not the acclaim of others.

I want this to encourage you as a leader to follow God with all your heart. Exponential results may not be seen in dramatic numeric growth. We are called to be faithful to the one who called us. Surrender anew today to your God, staff, people, and city. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that these churches also exhibit average preaching, common music, dated ministries, and disorganized leadership. The special sauce isn’t always what you think.

“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 22:27

 

November 24, 2014

Summer Creek’s “Beyond Ordinary” Campaign

beyond ordinary cover-small-2When a church plant with 75 families walked through their first campaign, expectations were ‘cautiously optimistic’ for raising the funds for their first building. With the clarity-first focus of Campaigns by Auxano, Summer Creek Baptist Church far exceeded their goal with pledges of over $1.72 million – roughly four times the church’s annual income. What’s more spectacular is the incredible buy-in and ownership of the church’s vision by the congregation. They advanced the mission dramatically while raising funds.

Meeting in a local elementary school tucked into the rapidly-growing northeast corner of Houston, TX, Summer Creek Baptist Church first met with our Campaigns staff at the beginning of 2013. A short five months later, this church full of young families shattered all expectations on their Commitment Sunday. Says a team member of the church, “The way we communicated our campaign, combining the strategic part of our Vision Frame with an enthusiastic prayer strategy, provided high involvement from the entire congregation.” Giving not to a building, but to a vision has this church already in the design phase of their first campus, with plans to break ground only one year after beginning the Campaigns by Auxano process.

Their campaign was aptly named “Beyond Ordinary” – and the results have been exactly that. “Knowing the Mission, Values, Strategy & Measures – (the Vision Frame) – helped to create a foundation and direction for us. Being a young church plant, we needed this to build on for not only our campaign, but the future of our church,” concluded the team member.

October 21, 2014

10 Ideas for Growing Generosity with Year-End Giving

year end givingAs we approach the final two months of the year, I’m frequently asked about year-end giving. Many churches will be feeling budget pressures with donations that have lagged behind expenses all year and need to catch up. Others will regularly engage in special offerings or major mission causes needing support. The bottom line request will be, how can I best capitalize on the opportunity and increase giving?

I’d like to expand the conversation a bit beyond just increased giving. Let’s dream about how you can begin to build a generous culture that has both increased short-term giving results along with creating a more permanent foundation for long lasting fruit.

Create a broader strategy that moves beyond a one-time offering to a full-blown vision casting and discipleship strategy. Here is a list and brief explanation of 10 ideas you can engage in to grow a long-term generous culture at your church, while increasing year-end giving.

1. Celebrate your vision.

Churches rarely take the time to celebrate and reflect on God’s goodness. Still, even fewer have a clearly articulated vision that can easily be seen connecting each weekend service, event, and program.

By November the pastor is probably speaking to a number of families who don’t know the vision clearly, have no depth of appreciation for the church story, and have yet to fully connect the purposes and dramatic impact the church has beyond their personal lives. Be a visionary, show them all God has done both in and through them. Throw a party and celebrate!

2. Express thankfulness.

Churches are often great at asking, but not so great at thanking. If you have completed a successful year of ministry impact it is because people have prayed, volunteered, attended, invited, served, and given generously. Be extremely thankful. Consistently thanking builds a better culture then just asking or sharing needs. Giving can be very private, but that doesn’t mean we need not express thanks to those who make such a difference.

3. Tell great stories.

You might consider highlighting a few ministries that received a specific or purposeful investment during the year. Be personal. Nothing is as powerful as the story of a life that was changed.

Also, take the time to tell a story about how wisely money is handled behind the scenes. People sometimes distrust how non-profits and churches handle money. Help people have confidence in your church’s high standard of accountability and practices. People remember stories better than figures.

4. Gather your leaders.

Leaders advance the vision further and faster than anyone else. You will never go wrong by strategically investing in your volunteers and leaders. Generosity studies show that those who attend church more often, give more frequently, and giver larger gifts.

If you do not have a high performing leadership pipeline you are under-achieving. Gather all your volunteers and leaders together. Show them the results of their faithfulness and give them a glimpse of the future.

5. Inspire visually.

Pick a theme to rally around that clearly communicates your vision for this season of generosity. Don’t just tell the story, but help people feel connected to it. Take a cue from non-profit organizations that often appeal with great stories, clearly articulated opportunities, and inspiring support materials. Instead of a numbers-only, budget document, create an annual report that tells the story with stunning clarity and appeals to future opportunities in inspiring ways. Someone once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

6. Communicate repeatedly.

It isn’t enough to just say it once. If you limit your generosity opportunity to a pre-service announcement slide or a brief mention in the worship guide, you’ll receive the expected result. People rarely remember something they see or hear only once.

You need to align your communication vehicles to repeat, repeat, repeat. Each staff member should know how to share the church’s vision in email, printed pieces, and various leadership settings. The website, e-newsletter, blog, and social media are a must. An established theme and visual brand will also help people identify and remember the message better.

7. Ask specifically.

People give for many motivational reasons. Because people come at generosity from different vantage points, it’s important to be specific. If you do not ask, you do not receive. Be specific and clear. Speak the language of the giver and don’t forget the kids. Children love to be generous. Make sure they have an opportunity as well. This will encourage their parents.

8. Pray boldly.

Tipping non-profits is pretty easy these days. The opportunity to give is everywhere. However, the believer needs to be challenged beyond the tip and past the tithe to a life of extravagant generosity.

The generous life requires sensitivity, readiness, and availability. These three elements come in part from the discipline of prayer. Establish a season of prayer that calls people to be transformed from the inside out. Your ultimate goal is not a big offering at the end of the year, but long-term generous disciples.

9. Teach about the rewards.

Too often giving is seen as a hard habit to create or a discipline to be endured. What if giving is actually the path to a preferred life? We tend to believe generous people are trusting, faithful, positive, sensitive, encouraging, supportive, available, responsive, altruistic, and just really good people. Doesn’t this list provide a strong beginning to a great disposition?

There are so many rewards to giving. It’s helpful for those who receive, but even better for those who give. God promises to provide for and protect the generous. He even promises to multiply their results. Living a big life that is crazy rewarding is definitely possible, but only through the lifestyle of generosity.

10. Go digital.

How many people sitting in your worship service have a checkbook or cash in their wallet? If you don’t have a plan that supports digital giving, you are severely limiting the potential for giving. People give more when it is convenient. This means you need to go digital. Branch out into online, app, and text giving if you haven’t already. People need to know it’s easier to give now more than ever.

You may not be able to integrate all these ideas. However, every church can do some of them. Bring your staff together for a collaborative experience. Use this time to appreciate them, reward them, and allow them to dream. By engaging them in the process you’ll be growing a more stewardship savvy team. Chasing money is fun for no one, but chasing disciples together can be fun for all.