This week, Barna Research highlighted the connection between people who serve in the church and the level of financial generosity they display. The point was that those who serve are more likely to give. This is an interesting insight into generosity in general and shows that you cannot put it into a singular box. It also shows the need to talk about generosity in terms that unpack it into all that it may encompass. Too often, generosity in the church is only spoken of in terms of money. Frequently, in those cases, it’s not communicated very well.
Acts chapter two gives us a critical snapshot into the first-century church in Jerusalem. These believers knew nothing of tradition in their brand new church and faith. They were moved by the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the Apostles to act in certain ways. Verse 43 says they sold their possessions and goods and gave to anyone as they had need. There was a desire to serve their fellow man, and money was a tool to do so. Should we extrapolate that they refused physical service and only gave money? By no means! We can also reasonably conclude that some were more generous than others. Some had greater capacity for financial giving than others. The same is true in the Church today.
So why are giving financially and serving connected, and how can we speak about both more effectively and biblically? Let’s explore some reasons.
People Give to What They Care About Personally
Coercing people to give to immediate needs may work on some people in short bursts, but it’s no way to grow a ministry over a long period of time. More so, people invest both physically and financially in what they care about. Leadership must provide opportunities for people to get to know all the functions of the church. That will allow people to begin to see themselves involved in areas that they feel connected to.
People Like to Feel Needed
Don’t you? When serving in a role in which you feel like your service is making a difference, it makes you glad to be able to fill that need. This is important when designing the service roles in our churches. Having warm bodies because you just think it will take that many people is the wrong approach. Alternatively, having job descriptions and knowing exactly which roles you need ensures that everyone is actually playing a vital role. God has given each church the people needed to make it successful. Aubrey Malphurs would say, “The church has an employment problem.” The employment problem? It doesn’t do a good job getting people serving where they can be the most helpful.
People Like to See the Big Picture
If you never show people how their place in the ministry fits with all the others, they will always have a limited scope of vision. However, when people can see the big picture, they may actually help you develop better or more effective ways of doing things. They might even identify blind spots or holes that need to be filled.
Relationships Help People Mature
Don’t underestimate the value of the relationships that form when serving alongside others. Like small groups, serving in teams provides a place for side-by-side discipleship to happen. Many times, people that have not found connections in groups have found them in serving. Fostering those relationships and encouraging people to connect outside of serving can help move relationships forward as well.
Mission and Vision are Key Motivators
The biggest factor in driving service and financial generosity is giving people a glimpse into the future. That’s what vision is all about. If you can show people today how their participation in the ministry affects the future, and what a bright future it is, they will want to contribute to it in both service and funding.
It’s been said that where people spend their money is where their heart is, but the reverse is true as well. Capture people’s hearts by engaging them in the work of the ministry. Then, they will naturally begin to fund the work they are doing also.
A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.