In the churches many of us grew up in, it seemed like pastors were always talking about money. Seeker churches reacted against that, and intentionally shied away from talking about finances—until leaders discovered they had to somehow fund their fast-growing ministries. So money became a utilitarian topic. It often felt like there was a pretext for the reason we talked about money: We’re behind on the budget, or we need to raise money for a new building, so let’s “give until it feels good.”
Now pioneering generous churches are taking a different approach with a much deeper reason behind the focus on finances. Church leaders are having this conversation with their people now because, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. I’m your pastor. I’m concerned about your heart. So we’re talking about money.”
Leaders are making the connection that a generous Christian with a generous heart is a mature believer. Church leaders just can’t ignore this topic, or make it a practical exercise to meet the needs of the church. This goes way beyond tithing and giving to the church to a different heart.
Andy Stanley, lead pastor of North Point Church, Alpharetta, GA (www.northpoint.org), has popularized a statement that sums it up: “We talk about money, not because of what we want from you, but because of what we want for you.” This is something a teacher can’t fake. Leaders are having a personal experience in their own heart with generosity, they’re teaching it to their congregations in a way that deeply impacts their hearers’ souls, and they are figuring out strategies to help support many forms of generosity among their membership.
Excerpted from “Contagious Generosity” by Chris Willard & Jim Sheppard, Zondervan, 2012.