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All human beings have burgeoning seeds of generosity within them. All of us will give something to someone at sometime, regardless of our own financial circumstances or core beliefs. Yet, as real as our desire to give is, we are also subject to a gripping fear that if we give, we won’t have enough for ourselves. Fear keeps people locked in the lie of the scarcity mentality—the idea that the more I give away, the less I will have for my own needs.

Added to the equation is the fact that the vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. To make matters worse, society has made it the norm for people to spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like. Even though their hearts may tend toward giving, their heads try to shut down the impulse before any money makes its exit.

Into this tangled web steps the earnest church leader, ready to pursue God’s passion for proper stewardship. God has put you in the position to hold up His truth about financial management. You have the answers that can free people’s hearts from the stress of economic straits and open their eyes to a life of abundance.

What’s your first step? How do you get people who want to give but are scared to give to understand the significance of investing in the work of the church? How do you help those people in your congregation who have never given anything to take the first step of giving?

Start by educating your people regarding the biblical basis of stewardship during your weekend service. The large majority of your congregation has no idea what the Bible says about giving. And many of those who think they know a thing or two are misinformed. You can illustrate the biblical basis for stewardship in four ways.

Stewardship Teaching Four Times Per Year

I suggest teaching on stewardship at least four times every year. Once per quarter, step up to the plate to challenge and educate your people on becoming fully developing stewards of kingdom resources. My experience shows that two of those four times should be as follows:

  • Teach on money in mid to late January. Your people will be recovering from the Christmas rush. The bills will start filling their mailboxes, letting them know just how much they spent. They are going to be thinking about what the year ahead holds and what changes they need to make. This is a perfect time to teach on issues of budgeting, debt and how to get your financial house in order.
  • Teach on money right after “back to school.” The beginning of the school year is the other natural period when people pause to organize their lives. There are new schedules and new routines. Slate the teaching for a week or two after everyone gets back into the swing of scheduled living so that the majority of your regular attenders will be there.

Stewardship Testimonies Two Times Per Year

Personal stories have the ability to touch listeners in a powerful way. Let your people hear from someone in the church who has struggled with finances and has seen the blessings that come with intentionally deciding to honor God despite the struggle. Outside the sermon, testimonies are the single greatest element that can be used in a Sunday service to speak to people where they are and encourage them to take steps toward God.

Giving Challenges Two Times Per Year

I suggest putting forth first-time giving challenges at least twice every year. The best way to introduce a giving challenge is to tie it in with one of your messages or testimonies on stewardship. Turn your people’s attention to the idea of honoring God through their finances, and then immediately encourage them to give for the first time.

As church leaders, we are never shy about challenging our people to read the Bible through in a year or to share their faith with their friends. There is no reason we should be hesitant to challenge people in their giving, either. Giving is a spiritual discipline that is necessary for their growth and development as followers of Jesus.

Stewardship Resources—Continuously

Every Sunday at The Journey, we offer free CDs at our resource table. We have CDs on getting out of debt, living on a budget, dealing with financial crisis and managing God’s wealth, among other things. People take these CDs by the dozens every week. Producing them is a negligible cost for us, and they allow our people to engage continually in stewardship education.

Another way to make financial resources available to your people is through your website. We regularly post articles and tools to help move people into a deeper understanding of their stewardship responsibility. We post MP3s similar to the CDs at the resource table. We offer downloadable budget sheets, debt worksheets and tithe calculators.

Your heart’s cry for your people should be that they are continually growing into fully developing followers of Jesus. As you demonstrate this desire to see them grow by investing in their stewardship education, you will be equipping them to honor God through cheerfully giving back to the kingdom.

Put the vision of true stewardship before them, and then show them why and how to pursue that vision. As you do, their knowledge and faith will increase, their fear will decrease, and the Spirit of God will begin moving them into the realm of active generosity.

Adapted from Maximize: How to Develop Extravagant Givers in Your Church by Nelson Searcy with Jennifer Dykes Henson, copyright 2010. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material may not be reproduced, scanned, copied or distributed in any printed or electronic form.

authors of Maximize: How to Develop Extravagant Givers in Your Church