I have been talking about giving in worship a lot lately. The reasons why pastors don’t want to talk about it and the reasons why laypeople don’t want to hear about it. If you have read these posts or had a conversation with me for more than 5 minutes you will know that I feel VERY strongly that we should be talking about generosity in worship.
I am writing this with the assumption that you as a reader agree that we should talk about giving in worship. So, the next question I have is:
What is the focus of the generosity message you are delivering?
I recently completed a Generosity Audit for a good sized church who is 5 years old. As the audit progressed I uncovered that this church is doing many things right when it comes to generosity. An electronic giving strategy, some very good discipleship studies, and small groups have had focused studies on debt, savings, & giving are among some of the strategies they have implemented in their young life as a church. I applauded their efforts.
The most encouraging thing I uncovered was the pastor’s willingness to talk about giving during worship. (He must have been reading my blog posts above:) The pastor is convicted that it is his responsibility as the spiritual leader of the church to guide his people toward a more generous lifestyle. I love that attitude and conviction! He talks about giving on a regular basis.
So you might ask “Then what is the problem? Why did he ask you there to do a Generosity Audit? If he talks about it so much and you say that is what we should do then what’s the deal? What’s the problem?” I’m glad you asked.
As we talked I began to dig deeper into what is actually communicated regarding generosity. What I uncovered is the focus of testimonies and illustrations was more on the actions of the giver being highlighted or the message being delivered rather than on the motivations of the giver or the message.
What is given or sacrificed is important to the listener and helps them put things into context. We need to give illustrations of generosity especially to the unchurched or dechurched people coming into our churches. However, if we want to begin the heart transformation necessary to be a truly generous person we must talk about why the gift was given or why the person was willing to sacrifice in order to give back to God.
If you already talk about giving in worship or if you have moved to the point that you are willing to talk about giving in worship, I now challenge you to look at what you say very closely. What is the focus of the message? Is it what or why? Focus more on the why. Use the what to make a point but use the why to challenge the listener to examine their hearts and why they give and serve. Are their motivations pure or are their ulterior motives? The genesis of generosity comes from the heart. God lives in our hearts. If we want our people to be more generous in their giving we must first talk to them about the condition of their hearts; not their bank accounts.