We as church leaders want to see our people practice radical generosity. We want our churches to be intentional and wise in directing resources toward global ministries. We build strategies, carefully cultivate partnerships, and discern the works that seem effective, necessary, and in alignment to carry out the Great Commission. We even send church members to be part of these ministries on the ground. All of this involves and is undergirded by financial generosity. For that reason, in the planning and implementing, it is just as important that we take time to celebrate—and clearly communicate—what God does through generous giving. This information can’t remain internal, celebrated amongst leaders and staff, and fail to reach the church at large. Churches must be intentional to share with their people and engage them in the entire giving process for several important reasons.
Those who entrust their resources to the church can trust a transparent process that includes them.
To celebrate what God has done. The church is a family, and in the spirit of the early Church in Acts, when resources are shared generously amongst one another, there should be celebration and glory given to God. It is a good thing when money earned goes toward blessing others in gospel ministry and enabling new churches and works to spring forth.
To communicate needs. Often we are proactive in generating excitement around giving opportunities. We tell people how generosity “moves the mission forward,” is biblical, and is an expression of our excitement around ministry opportunities. Sometimes, though, we forget to communicate what exactly is the need. How much money needs to go toward a cause? What or whom does the support enable?
To build trust. Churches build trust when they communicate clearly about giving on both ends of the process, giving a clear call to meet a need and a clear report on how that need was met. Those who entrust their resources to the church can trust a transparent process that includes them.
To cast vision. While communication must be clear, it also must be compelling. Informing the church body how their giving is shaping ministry elsewhere is one of the best opportunities to cast vision for future ministry strategy. It helps everyone to feel as if they are a part of something bigger than themselves—which they are.
Keep the recipients of your church’s generosity in front of your members.
Thankfully, informing your church how their giving has made an impact doesn’t need to be complicated. There are a number of ways that churches might do this, and many of them likely already are in practice to some degree. Here are a few examples:
Publish an annual report. In the last church, where I served for over a decade, we saw this as a daunting project. We delayed it for years, feeling already overextended with church communications. Eventually, we took steps, starting small with concise print pieces, and growing that into more full-scale works. Church members were excited to have an at-a-glance, informative piece that also gave visual representation to how ministry was flowing from our church, to the city, and on to the nations. This also gave our ministry teams a reference point for an entire year to say, “Look what this level of commitment makes possible. Let’s do it again!”
Utilize social media. We can debate the effectiveness of “adding to the noise” of Giving Tuesday emails and posts, and certainly churches will always be competing against millions of other content producers. Still, we miss out if we choose not to share stories on social media. Even a quick video testimonial from a mission partner, or several photos showing the fruit of generous giving, can help grow engagement in ministry efforts and mission.
Approach Sunday morning intentionally. Every “giving moment” in a service matters. Service planning teams should consider how to use those brief moments during announcements or the time for tithes and offerings not just to invite people to give but also to share how their giving makes a difference. The more specific, and even sometimes anecdotal, the better. Keep the recipients of your church’s generosity in front of your members.
Invite the core to engage through members meetings. When my current church last met for a members meeting, we celebrated that our small church plant had grown significantly toward becoming self-sustaining through financial generosity. This was a time to thank people for entrusting their resources, to encourage one another in obedience, and to pray for God to continue to bless our church and help us to be joyful givers, so that we might see the gospel go forward in our city.
It is important to note that it’s not just the job of one or two staff—a senior pastor, a missions director, a financial administrator—to communicate about giving. Every ministry in a church can both share and receive information. In my last church, the children’s ministry taught every elementary-aged child about missionaries that were sent from our church. They also learned about a local school where we donated school supplies and met other family needs. These were creative, thoughtful ways to communicate to kids and parents, which grew the vision of the church’s giving strategy through our own families.
Perhaps one of the best examples we have for communicating about generosity is the apostle Paul in Philippians 4. He displays faith in God’s sovereignty by noting in his letter that even if the Philippians hadn’t been so generous, his needs would have been met by God’s faithfulness. At the same time, we learn several approaches from Paul:
He rejoices in generosity: “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me” (v. 10).
He stresses the need: “. . . when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only” (v. 15).
He focuses on perspective: Paul doesn’t seek the gift itself, but “the fruit that increases to your credit” (v. 17). He knows that if the church gives, the work continues, the church enjoys the blessings of obedient, joyful generosity, and God is glorified.
He reminds them of God’s provision: Even as they give abundantly, God will supply all of their needs (v. 19).
Because we trust that our resources belong to God and that generous giving is good, we seek to communicate well and invite others into the joy of celebrating how God multiples and blesses obedience through the church.
Ashlyn lives in London, U.K., where she serves with her local church, Redeemer Queen's Park, overseeing local discipleship groups as well as missions partnerships between the U.S. and the U.K. She also works for the Alliance for Transatlantic Theological Training (AT3) as the Director of Operations. Ashlyn is originally from Tallahassee, Florida, where she served on staff at City Church Tallahassee for over ten years. She is a graduate of Florida State University and completed seminary courses at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, where she hopes to return as a student one day.