“Wait, why are we talking about money? Hold on, they want us to give to the church? This is not the type of church I thought we joined.”
We’ve all worried about our congregations thinking (or even saying) things like this. But, the truth is that the majority of your congregation wants to hear what the Bible says about money. Odds are, there might be a handful of people who make comments like the ones above to you (even though they may be the loudest ones).
Generous churches set generosity expectations for their prospective members.
Are you wanting to build a church that is filled with generous disciples? Don’t underestimate the importance of your new member class.
Many churches hold classes where those who are interested in joining the church are able to learn about the church’s mission, structure, and member expectations. These classes help prospective members better understand what they are committing to before they join.
Building a church filled with generous disciples starts with setting generosity expectations. If your church has a prospective member class, use the class as an opportunity to lay out the generosity expectations of members.
What should you cover? Here are three important things to share with prospective church members about generosity:
1. They are joining a church that talks about and celebrates generosity.
Members should not be surprised when a pastor teaches about generosity. Instead, such teachings should reinforce the information they received in the prospective member class. Prevent surprise by letting prospective members know that you will teach about generosity because God places such teachings in the Bible. And let them know that the church celebrates faithful, openhanded living.
2. Church members are expected to give.
Tell prospective members that generosity is a hallmark of Christ followers. They give because He gave. And as a church that strives to encourage members to be faithful followers of Christ, church members are expected to follow God’s teachings and example by giving. Ensure they understand that it is not about what you want from them but what you want for them—to follow God’s design for them and their money.
3. Members’ generosity funds the church’s mission.
There are two ways that money plays a role in the mission of the church—one obvious and one not-so-obvious. The obvious role money plays is to help pay the bills—keeping the lights on and the air conditioner running. And this can be acknowledged with some levity—“We are a church that really likes lights and air conditioning. And somehow, those bills must be paid…” The not-so-obvious role is that God uses money to fuel the community and global impact the church has. Because members give, the hungry get fed, broken marriages are repaired, and neighbors around the corner and around the globe hear the gospel. Explain both roles. Both are important.
If you want a church filled with generous disciples, it starts in the prospective member class. Set generosity expectations before someone becomes a member of the church. Generosity expectations encourage members to follow God’s design for them and their relationship with money. And when teaching on biblical generosity later, they are not surprised, but expectant and ready.