By Matt Johnson
So, how is your holiday season going?
If you’re in some sort of vocational ministry, you might have a complicated response to that question. While those around you are merrymaking, you might want to take a nap.
Don’t feel bad. It’s okay to admit that the holiday season is especially hard when you’re in ministry. For the average church staff person, it means extra programming and the stress brought on by a lull in post-holiday giving.
This is not a rant against church-staff life. I’ve worked on a church staff myself, and it truly is a great honor to serve God’s people in that way.
But, let’s be honest here: when you feel zapped of all energy by giving away so much time, talent and effort, often one of the last things you want to do is continue giving.
Consider your congregants, as well. They’re running ragged in their own way. Entertaining family and guests, shopping for their loved ones, attending church services and extra events — they’re tired, too.
And yet, this is what our Lord calls us to, isn’t it? This doesn’t mean we don’t take time for rest and self-care, but it does mean that the church is called to be a generous people, as our Lord has been generous towards us.
Generosity requires work and creativity
While generosity is certainly an individual discipline, cultivating generosity within a community requires creativity, and creative might be the last thing you’re feeling as you ramp up for the new year.
The good thing is, finding your church’s creative generosity isn’t entirely up to you. As a leader, it’s time to let go of the idea that it’s your job to do it all. Instead, a
healthier model of leadership focuses on helping resource others so they can go and do great things themselves.
Sometimes we need a little help to knock loose some creativity. And while you might have other things on your agenda as you prepare to jump back into a regular church rhythm, bookmark this for a brainstorming tool for later.
You know you want to lead and cultivate a culture of generosity in your church, but where do you start? Below is a big-picture idea to get the creative juices flowing and show how you can lead by example.
First things first: where’s the collective potential in your church?
A few years ago, I walked away from Will Mancini’s Church Unique with some really helpful nuggets of wisdom. One particular insight was worth the cost of the book: the “Kingdom Concept.”
The gist is that just like every individual has certain skills and talents, so do cultures within our churches. Some churches are talented at mercy ministry and outreach. Some churches do a great job at kid’s ministries and running summer programs, while others might be well connected in the business world and help get professionals connected.
While it might help to look at the example of other churches doing great things, your church is — ahem — unique. You can’t build your church programming and outreach according to someone else’s template. This is where the “Kingdom Concept” comes in. Mancini writes:
“The Kingdom Concept is the simple, clear, ‘big idea’ that defines how your church will glorify God and make disciples … your Kingdom Concept is what differentiates you from every other church in how you develop followers of Christ for God’s ultimate honor. The Kingdom Concept answers important questions such as, ‘What can we do better than 10,000 other churches?’”
When we help our church community understand who they are, what they’re skilled in, and how those skills and passions can be used in a God-glorifying way within the community, they will be good stewards of what God has entrusted to them.
What does any of this have to do with generosity?
Mancini’s “Kingdom Concept” might not seem tied to generosity at first. We vocational ministry folks tend to think about generosity in terms of the offering plate.
But the spirit of generosity doesn’t start and end at the purse strings. It begins in a congregation’s heart towards sharing with those in need of help, and ultimately those in need of hearing the message of the gospel.
While you might already have put Mancini’s principles in place within your own church, cultivating generosity is an iterative process.
So, take that holiday-rush nap if you need to. But, know that the creativity required to cultivate generosity in your church doesn’t rest on your shoulders alone.