The Generosity Project is a collaborative effort between ABCUSA, regions, and local congregations. The Generosity Project aims to help pastors re-frame the conversation around stewardship and generosity in their congregations. Bi-monthly blogs help support new growth and understanding as we deepen our ministry and discipleship. The reflection below was provided by Rev. Stacy Emerson.
What is your Congregation’s “Why”?
Too often churches make this major mistake when appealing for funds: they simply state in financial campaigns and stewardship letters, “Please give to our church.” And we miss a critical opportunity in helping people see the impact their giving makes on their community and on the world. We take for granted that people should give—it’s a concept so many people who grew up in the church are familiar with. We give to the church because we are supposed to. It’s what we were taught to do.
However, if one of the main goals of our stewardship ministry is to nurture generous disciples, it is essential that we help people foster the connection between what they give and the impact it makes. We love God and neighbor, and we serve Christ and others, to change the world. To bring love, compassion, hope, and help wherever God sends us. To be conduits of God’s blessing so that we can partner with God in God’s work in the world. If we fail to point out the ways our ministry is doing that, we are missing the point.
So what is your congregation’s why? Why should people give to your church? How will their gifts expand the kingdom of God in their neighborhood and beyond? And what makes your congregation expressly suited to carry on this work? What do you celebrate in the ministries God is calling you to perform? These are the essential elements that should be a part of every financial appeal and stewardship campaign.
How you tell your story matters. Sharing your congregation’s why inspires giving. It encourages volunteers to keep going even when it gets hard. And it helps your congregation stay true to the precious calling God has entrusted you with.
I encourage you to spend time in prayer with and reflecting together on the questions asked above. And then find creative ways to share your why. In your annual appeal, in Bible studies, in generosity story sharing during worship, in giving and budget reports, in your regular church communications, in sermons, and in conversation with new members. Dig deep into your why and surely you will deepen the culture of generosity and hope in your congregation.
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA. She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.