Never be satisfied with the minimum standard.
When you were in school, what kind of student were you? Were you one to complete the assignments on time, or were you the class clown or a great procrastinator? And when you did complete the assignment and turn it in, did it meet the bare minimum standards your teacher outlined in the instructions, or did it go above and beyond? When you received the grade back and read over the comments, were you content with the “C gets degrees” mantra, or did you push yourself to see that “A”?
The world is full of “C” type students. And you know what, that is totally acceptable. In fact, it’s probably a good thing. There is no need or call for everyone to rise to an “A” standard. But life is not school, and we’re not talking about your prowess as a student. We’re talking about something much more significant than that: generosity.
Now, before you get your pants in a bundle, understand that as we talk about generosity and the tithe, we will be making some contrasts that may make you feel uncomfortable. We’re cool with that though, because in the end, we are looking to help equip you as more generous givers and therefore leaders in the church giving space. If we can do that, then the church as a whole will be better equipped to reach the now and into the future.
The only people who hate to talk about money in church are the people who claim Christ but have a hard time being obedient with their finances.
That quote hurts, but it’s the reality we are living in. In fact, it’s been the presiding reality for a long time. As you walk into a church service, you expect the following:
No matter the context, these are the elements every church leads with for their church services. The thing you really need to understand is that this is the expectation from those who are churches and unchurched. Absolutely everyone understands that it takes finances to make things happen. So when you hear groans from people in churches that are talking about finances, it’s not the unchurched that are making the noise, it’s those that are not being obedient, let alone generous with their finances.
Getting back to the illustration we led with between the “C” and “A” student. We want to paint it as clear as possible for you: the ones who are giving faithfully and meeting the tithe definition of 10% of their finances are “A” students, not “C” students. Uh … bet you thought we were going to define them as “C” students, right? Here’s the thing: they are doing exactly what God called them too. But, is that something that we want our people to strive for?
The tithe is the absolute minimum giving standard.
The minimum standard is not our high bar. While our obedience may be an “A” in this thinking, our heart is in alignment with being a “C”. We want to encourage you to go above and beyond, and become the kind of generous church God is calling all believer to become. When you read the scriptures, the ones he elevates is the church in Philippi, who gave out of a sense of longing to see the Kingdom promises fulfilled on earth. They gave above and beyond. Do you? If scripture were to be written again today, would your church be shown in the same generous light as the church in Philippi?
C’s make degrees, but A’s make mom and dad happy.
How can we up our game and make sure we don’t become content with the bare minimum? We aren’t the experts in generosity. We love to give and give as much as we can. But we do know the experts and want to share a few things we have learned along the way from our friends at Generis. The below notes are taken from a sit-down with Julie Bullock, an absolute star in church generosity. We pray these notes encourage you to take a look at your generosity heart and do everything you can to turn it up, and grow from a “C” to an “A” in church generosity.
- What do we believe about the tithe?
- Your church needs a unified giving philosophy.
- Same standards asked on staff and members.
- Outside ministry support is not tithe, but rather support.
- Your giving language and strategy needs the utmost amount of clarity.
- What is the language that communicates your philosophy?
- What can we title it: “The Giving Journey”.
- What are the steps along the path? – This is unique to each church.
- Church out The Giving Ladder, by Nelson Searcy.
- Generosity is not about numbers, but behavior: tithe is still 10%, but your focus should be on behavior.
- That means you need to focus on behavioral words, and not amount words.
- Therefore, use tithe less, and more: consistency, commitment, sacrifice, generosity.
- It’s not just about what gets vocalized, but what gets printed as well.
- How are you saying the same thing across the board, to everyone?
- Remember: Consistency and clarity is key.
- Calendar out the giving stories: quarterly or monthly.
- Use commitment cards for a specific behaviors.
- Remember that every church and every giver has unique pockets.
- Care and communicate the things that you measure.
- Celebrate giving more than you discuss your needs for it.
- Use a Generosity Dashboard: Public update once a quarter, written and spoken.
- Give something that shows your people what is going on (#s not $).
- First time givers
- Total # of givers
- Generosity to date ($)