Determining how to build a culture of generosity and fully fund your ministry plan begins with an understanding of stewardship. Corinthians 4:1 reminds us of our call to be “servants of Christ and stewards of mysteries revealed to us.” Teaching stewardship from a Biblical perspective reinforces the connection between giving and our Christian identity. Focusing on the spiritual aspects of stewardship enables churches to increase generosity and member engagement.
In this article, we identify seven things about church stewardship that your financial leaders want to know (even if they’re not currently asking you about it). Knowing what to share with your financial leaders and how to share it can help you build your generosity culture and thrive into the future. So, let’s dive right in.
Engaging Your Financial Leaders
Of course, every congregation includes people with varying capacities for giving. Some are capable of giving financially and others may be more able to contribute their time. Both are vital to the life of the church. However, to fully fund your ministry plan, you need to get to know your “financial leaders.”
In today’s churches and nonprofits, there is a significant trend occurring around annual giving. Giving has never been equally distributed, but in most organizations today, more dollars are being contributed by fewer families. Your financial leaders, those who are most heavily invested in annual giving, are becoming essential to your ability to fund your important ministry.
Because of the critical role financial leaders play in funding ministry, it is important that they are well-versed and encouraged in their stewardship journey through an effective financial leader ministry. In most cases, your financial leaders are not just generous, they are also highly invested in helping your organization achieve its ministry goals and objectives.
One of the most effective ways to build relationships with your financial leaders is to engage them in conversation around key decisions you are making. Many of your financial leaders have achieved personal and professional success. Drawing on their wisdom and experience can be helpful to you and a wonderful encouragement to them. Inviting them to share their insights around key decisions can create a greater sense of investment and may add important perspective to your decision-making processes.
Because of the substantial investment made by your financial leaders, it is important to not only share your ministry plans but also to encourage them as they mature in their journey as disciples. You will want to be intentional to have conversations in two key areas:Scripture
Encourage your financial leaders with conversations grounded in scripture. Helping them to understand what scripture has to say about giving and generosity will enable them to grow and move along the discipleship path. Everyone brings a different perspective to the money conversation. Allowing space for questions and conversations about how our relationship with money impacts our relationship with God will help your financial leaders discover the joy of generosity.Planning
Remember your financial leaders are deeply invested in your ministries and want to know what you are planning. Be sure to share your vision, goals, strategies, plans, and invite feedback. Collaborating with your financial leaders will establish trust and create a strong foundation on which to build your generosity culture.
Seven Things Your Financial Leaders Want to Know
With this in mind, it’s important that your financial leaders are always kept in the loop as you plan, manage, initiate, and review your annual giving and ministry impact. Of course, people will have different needs, but there are likely several areas of interest to your financial leaders. Here are seven things your financial leaders are likely curious about even if they are not currently asking you about it.
One: You have a ministry plan.
First and foremost, your financial leaders want to know that you have a robust ministry plan. Most donors say they give in order to make an impact in the world. Your financial leaders expect you are making plans for ministry impact, so be sure to communicate this well. Provide donors with a clear roadmap that explains exactly how you plan to address challenges, opportunities, and obstacles in the year ahead. Sharing your planning process with financial leaders will create a deeper sense of engagement and higher levels of investment.
Two: You need their leadership.
It’s not sufficient to just brief your financial leaders on your ministry plan. You must also listen to their feedback and encourage their involvement. Quite often, financial leaders hold stature in your community and can influence others by expressing their support. Financial leaders need to know you are counting on them to be active leaders and express their support to others. It is true that people are more inclined to support an initiative they were involved in creating. By inviting financial leaders’ feedback, you will nurture their investment and deepen their relationship with your church or nonprofit.
Three: You value their insights and feedback.
Choosing to engage your financial leaders demonstrates a desire to reciprocate the relationship. When someone makes a substantial contribution to your organization, they are expressing a desire to make a connection. Showing that you value their insights and feedback affirms the relationship and encourages deeper conversations. It’s important to inquire about what donors want to see happen as a result of their generosity. Your financial leaders will appreciate being asked for their feedback and insights.
Make sure that you are prioritizing donor communications so that your financial leaders are always among the first to hear about new ministry initiatives and priorities. Financial leaders will appreciate hearing news first-hand from leadership, before reading it on the website or in the newsletter.
Four: You can measure effectiveness.
Donors want to know their contributions are making a difference. Demonstrating the effectiveness of their generosity will lead to future, and often larger, contributions. Measurable evidence showing the impact of donor investments of time, financial resources, and giftedness is crucial. Identifying changes in giving behaviors, building strategies for increasing giving, and measuring the effectiveness of these strategies demonstrates fiscal responsibility.
Using analytics is one of the best ways to do this. In addition to surfacing basic giving trends and data, donor analytics provides information about lapsed donors, new givers, changes in household giving over time, and general giving patterns. This data can then be used to create specific and impactful strategies.
Five: You're building a culture of generosity.
Building a culture of generosity is about creating intentional experiences for the spiritual growth of your members. The key to building a culture of generosity in your church or faith-based institution is to help people understand how they can use their time, resources, and giftedness in more meaningful and fruitful ways. Show your financial leaders you are intentionally moving your organization to the Next Level of Generosity through mindful discipleship and spiritual formation.
Six: Your discipleship strategy is growing your base of support.
Your discipleship strategy should be intentional, practical, and spiritually grounded. A multi-faceted discipleship approach both informs and teaches members about how to follow Christ and mature spiritually. Giving is one aspect of the discipleship process and should be considered on a spiritual level.
Growing in generosity is part of maturing as a Christian. Show your financial leaders that you have a plan for growing generous stewards in your church. Good discipleship empowers people to go out and serve their communities. Be sure you’re demonstrating to your financial leaders that your discipleship strategy is helping spread your impact and base of support within your congregation and throughout the communities you serve.
Seven: You care more about them than their money.
Talking about money—especially in a spiritual context—requires a delicate balance. You never want to give the impression that you care more about your donors’ money than you do about them. Of course, your concern is for them and their deepening relationship with God, not about their wealth.
Teaching and preaching on stewardship should always be about increasing our reliance on God and reducing our dependence on stuff. It’s not that God wants our stuff. It’s that he wants us to want our stuff less. We want to help people grow in their faith and discover the joy that results from giving generously.
Always preach on stewardship from a biblical perspective and help your donors better understand their role as stewards within a culture of Christian generosity. Mathew 6:21 reminds us that, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Helping people to give more of their treasure to your church will enable their hearts to be more fully committed to Christ.
Nurture Your Financial Leaders
Some church and nonprofit leaders are intimidated by financial leaders and, therefore, do not build the necessary relationships to keep them engaged. There are many misconceptions surrounding how ministry leaders should treat their financial leaders. Knowing your financial leaders well and encouraging their investment in your ministry is crucial to garnering their increasing support.
Involving your financial leaders in decision-making and planning will foster stronger, deeper relationships and help them grow in their relationship with God. Remember your goal is not to ask for something from them, but rather to give them the opportunity to discover the joy of generosity.