Saturday October 21, 2023 From Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving
Generous Congregations “What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.”
— Acts 20:24, The Message
Churches that cultivate Extravagant Generosity hold high quality annual pledge opportunities with wide participation, excellent preparation, and active lay involvement. While pastors provide leadership through preaching, teaching, and
example, congregations rely heavily on the witness of extravagantly generous lay persons though testimonies, sermons, leadership talks, newsletter meditations, and website devotionals. They invite people into leadership who speak with integrity because of their own personal growth in the practice of giving, including people of diverse ages, incomes, and backgrounds.
Vibrant, fruitful, growing congregations focus on giving during the season of annual pledging, but they also emphasize generosity throughout the year in preaching, Bible studies, and classes. They speak about how our relationship with God affects our views of money and how our relationship with money shapes our relationship to God. They teach about the place of wealth, affluence, acquisitiveness, materialism, selfishness, generosity, and giving. They do not avoid capital funds campaigns when they serve the mission of the church, and they enter into major projects with excellence, professional preparation, and outstanding communication. They regularly offer members the opportunity to support special appeals and new projects, knowing that giving stimulates giving; and they’ve learned that when special giving is aligned with the purposes of Christ, it enhances support for the general budget rather than diminishes it. They readily encourage charitable contributions and philanthropic giving by their members to service agencies and to medical, advocacy, and cultural causes that make a difference in the lives of people.
Such churches do more than encourage, teach, and support personal generosity, they practice Extraordinary Generosity as a congregation, demonstrating exemplary support for special projects, missions in the community and around the world, and denominational connectional ministries. They take the lead in responding to disasters and unexpected emergencies. Pastors and lay leaders view “giving beyond the walls” as indispensable to Christian discipleship and to congregational mission and vitality. They look for more and better opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of people. They develop mission partnerships; support agencies that help the poor; and fund mission teams, scholarships, service projects, new church starts, and other ministries that transform lives. They make the mission of the church real, tangible, and meaningful. Their reputation for generosity bears witness to Christ.
Churches that grow in giving know that generosity increases with participation in ministry and community, and so they work to deepen the core ministries of worship, small-group learning, and mission.
Many churches do not have enough money because they don’t provide sufficient ministry and mission. Rather than becoming obsessed with income, survival, and maintenance, generous congregations continually return their focus to changing lives, reaching new people, and offering significant mission. By growing in ministry, giving increases.
Congregations that practice Extravagant Generosity teach, model, and cultivate generosity among children and youth. Sunday school classes, after-school children’s ministries, vacation Bible school, and youth ministries all offer opportunities to give individually and to work together in groups to achieve a ministry goal that is significant, tangible, and compelling. Rather than collecting offerings in a perfunctory way, children’s and youth leaders explain, teach, and connect the action of giving to the work of God. Generous congregations equip parents with ideas, suggestions, and practices that foster generosity for children and youth of all ages.