It is not enough for the church to talk about generosity, nor is it enough for individual Christians simply to commit to being generous; what makes generosity a real and powerful witness to God’s love is our action, according to Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard in their book Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church. Generosity flows from understanding that God is the owner of everything, and the resources we possess are assets to be invested in the kingdom.
Interesting observations made by the authors include:
- One of the biggest mistakes church leaders make in the area of preaching about generosity is that they raise the issue only when they are trying to raise money
- Generosity needs to be a thread which runs through the mission and organisation of the entire church
- Generosity is cultivated by pastors when they celebrate giving which goes beyond the church as much as giving which goes to the church
- Scarcity is a cancer, for which generosity is the cure
- As a church leader, if you want to create a culture of generosity in your church, you will have to find a way to stay informed about the giving habits of your people
- Generous churches are led by generous pastors
- Conversations about money need to be connected to stories of changed lives
- Churches are notorious for taking their donors for granted
I found the book both enlightening and inspiring. When comparing church income with church expenditure, most pastors wish that they could encourage their members to become a little more generous. Ironically, a culture of generosity amongst the members of a church really starts flowing only when the church sets aside its own financial needs and demonstrates by example generosity in its giving to others.