How to Use the Offering to Create a Culture of Generosity


By Chris Willard with Warren Bird

There was a time in American church life when conventional wisdom said to downplay the role of “passing the offering plate.”

Scandals involving prominent television evangelists back then had shined a spotlight on the practice of asking people to give money to religious causes. As a result, many pastors chose to eliminate the regular practice in favor of a less-prominent offering box in the back or a low-key invitation to give.

“Evangelists on TV were doing crazy stuff with money, so I understand that reaction,” says Chad Moore, lead pastor of Sun Valley Church in Phoenix.

But the pendulum is swinging back. Many influential churches around the country are leading a trend in seizing the offering time in weekly church services to consistently teach giving principles and build a culture of generosity in their congregations.

Every single week we have an opportunity during our services to inspire people, to teach people, to encourage people, to thank people in the whole area of generosity and stewardship and giving. We’re seeing more and more take advantage of those few minutes every week to do some good in the lives of people.

Chad, whose 7,000-attendance multisite church is growing in generosity toward its community and beyond, offers some practical insights on making the offering an important part of leading people to follow Christ:

Don’t Skip It

For starters, include an offering time in every church service. Chad says Sun Valley has chosen to never shy away from talking about giving, and encouraging people to do it through their regular offerings.

“We believe it’s a really important part of worship, and it’s part of what it means to follow Jesus,” Chad says. “To acknowledge it in every service is important, because you’re saying that giving is important. It’s important in what it means to worship God.”

Chad explains that Sun Valley leads people to meet, know and follow Jesus. Leaders there break down following Jesus as, “you give, you serve and you share your faith.”

“So giving is an important part of who we are as a church,” Chad says. “We want to be known for giving; so of course, we’re going to give you an opportunity to give in all of our services.”


Worship service at Sun Valley Church’s Gilbert campus during the offering.

 Don’t “Take” It, “Receive” It

It’s a very subtle nuance of the language used when launching into the weekly offering—but a very important one, Chad says. At Sun Valley and other churches that strive to make the most of weekly offerings, leaders “receive” an offering—they don’t “take” it.

“That sounds so nitpicky when it comes to language,” Chad acknowledges. “But it’s really important in the context of what you’re teaching people about giving.

“At Sun Valley, we don’t take anything. What we’re doing is receiving an offering from you to be used for Kingdom purposes. So we’re helping facilitate that part of worship in your life, and we’re receiving it on behalf of God and what He’s doing in and through the local church.”

Raising the Temperature

I believe that as church leaders take these few strategic minutes in weekly services to focus on giving back to God, the generosity culture in churches is being impacted. We’re absolutely seeing an increase in people’s enthusiasm for generosity, stewardship and giving when churches are more intentional about leveraging the weekend experience.

In the past, the trend might have been for leaders to downplay giving to the church and the weekly offering. But I affirm that pastors are starting to see the impact on their congregations—and more importantly, on the hearts of people in their churches—when they capitalize on this key part of a weekly worship experience.

Pastors need to emphasize the offering because it’s a way to teach an essential part of spiritual formation. When we do so, we see a corresponding increase in giving to the church. So you get a good result because you’re doing the right thing for the people of your church.

Look for Part 2 of this article, where we will explore two more practical ideas from Chris and Chad for getting the most out of weekend offerings. Both Part 1 and Part 2 are also covered in this podcast.

Growing your people in generosity and giving is important to you. It’s important to us, too. That’s why Leadership Network has developed HUB:Generosity for larger churches who want to accelerate generosity, stewardship & giving. For more information go to






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A Weekend to Remember Indeed


Since 1999 the fabulous Susan Willard and I have had the privilege of serving on the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway speaker team.  Over the years we have spoken at dozens of these powerful events in cities all over the country.

We love the fact that we get to do this ministry because we get to do it together. I am always thankful that Susan is such a wise and winsome communicator.  You should see some of the encouraging comments that she receives each time she speaks!

Of course we also love the fact that these conferences provide a getaway for us, too.  We love to travel and have truly had some weekends to remember.  This past weekend was definitely one of those.

We spoke at the Napa conference over Valentine’s Day.  How about that for a getaway?  We enjoyed some great meals and the stunning scenery, but once again the most memorable part of the weekend was the way the Lord powerfully moved in the lives of so many who attended.

IMG_0484We have been on the team long enough to know that it is not about us.  In fact, one of the things that we like best about the FamilyLife model is that it isn’t focused on the speakers at all.  Sure, we help guide the process and tell some personal stories along the way, but because marriage is so important to the heart of God, He shows up and does the real work.

The following are just a few of the comments that attenders submitted this weekend at the conclusion of our time together in Napa.

“This weekend has been amazingly powerful. Our marriage has struggled for over a decade and I feel such a sense of relief and peace. I feel this weekend is the new beginning for me, my husband, and our family. Thank you!”

“We could not have gotten to the place of reconnection and recommitment without this weekend. I really feel like it has put our marriage back on track. We laughed, we cried, we prayed, and we reconnected and recommitted!”

“Actually thought of cancelling because I thought our marriage was too far gone to save. Left the weekend feeling hopeful and looking forward to working with my husband to build a strong relationship using the tools you’ve given us.”

“My marriage was going down a bad, destructive path and now the Lord has broken our hearts of stone and healing and oneness is being restored. Thank you doesn’t seem enough.”

“We recommitted our lives to Christ and for the first time prayed together for our marriage. My husband said to me “This has been the best Valentine’s weekend we have ever spent together.” What a great investment! Thank you.”

It was a great weekend and it is such a blast to be a part of the FamilyLife team.

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Surprise and Delight Your Givers

10426617_10153736290243592_8702915053991191013_nDownload this free ebook to learn how to surprise and delight your givers with an excellent annual giving statement strategy.  


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Giving Tuesday


Today is Giving Tuesday, which is a fantastic way to follow-up the consumer driven, shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  It’s also fitting that Giving Tuesday follows right after Thanksgiving Day.  When I count my blessings and remember all of the things and people for which I am truly thankful, I am inspired to give.

There are a lot of fantastic charities and ministries out there, but this year my wife Susan and I are making a special Giving Tuesday donation to our local church, Discovery Church in Orlando.

Like so many churches across America, Discovery does so much good both locally and globally.  I can’t think of a better place to give than to my local church, can you?  Today, why don’t you consider giving a special gift to your own local church?

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

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Couples Who Spend Less on Wedding Have Longer Marriages


Some fascinating new research from two economics professors from Emory University has uncovered this startling fact, couples who spend less on their wedding have longer marriages.  This is good news for those of us who are parents of daughters, but it may also shed light on the relationship between finances and marriage.  

The study found that women whose wedding cost more than $20,000 divorced at a rate roughly 1.6 times higher than women whose wedding cost between $5,000 and $10,000. And couples who spent $1,000 or less on their big day had a lower than average rate of divorce. While the study’s authors didn’t examine why, they do have a few theories.

“It could be that the type of couples who have a … (cheap wedding) are the type that are a perfect match for each other,” said Professor Hugo M. Mialon, who co-authored the study with Andrew M. Francis.

“Or it could be that having an inexpensive wedding relieves young couples of financial burdens that may strain their marriage,” he said.

My wife, the fabulous Susan, and I have coached engaged couples for years and always caution them about planning a great wedding, instead of focusing on having a great marriage.  We have talked with many couples who personally go into debt to pay for a fairy tale wedding, and later find that the stress of that debt and future debt is very tough on their marriage.

Susan is a professional wedding planner and I always marvel at the way she helps couples and their families plan beautiful and meaningful weddings, no matter what the budget may be.

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Have a Weekend to Remember With Your Spouse

The fabulous Susan and I are speaking at the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Getaway in Dallas at the beautiful Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas the weekend of November 13-15, 2015.  We would love to have you join us!  Or choose a city closer to home or one that you want to visit.

And, now for a limited time you can get your registration for half price.  Great marriages don’t happen by accident. Now’s your chance to take an intentional step towards strengthening your marriage and get rewarded for doing so.

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The Grace of God

What God is doing at Discovery Church in Orlando, FL is stunning!  I am so thankful to be a part of this great church.

We are teaching our way through the stories of the Bible and last week I got to share the story from Jonah 3.  It isn’t a story about Jonah, or a big fish or the Ninevites.  It’s about the grace and mercy of God.



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