We learn to be generous by family, friends, pastors, and our community. Yet many congregations do not deal with generosity in faith formation programs for adults, youth, or children. How will people learn if no one teaches them?
The National Study on Congregations’ Economic Practices (see nscep.org/reports) looked at how congregations raise, use, and manage money. Among the findings: the regularity of teaching about generosity predicted whether a congregation saw increased giving. Indeed, “Among congregations that teach on giving weekly (9%), 90% reported financial growth. Among those discussing giving monthly, reported financial growth was 73%.” Yet in the UCC, we too often pass the offering plate but never explain why someone should make a gift.
We’ve curated resources to help you plan and led education events about generosity in your congregation.
Andy DeBraber, Generosity Officer for the national setting of the UCC, reflects on the ways we can teach and model generosity for children. Read his reflection here.
A Philanthropic Autobiography can help us identify our passions and provide a meaningful guide for how we want to direct our generosity and engage in faithful stewardship. In fact, a Philanthropic Autobiography can be an engaging and fun group activity for adult education, either in-person or virtually. Learn more here.
Individuals can often feel overwhelmed by the number of philanthropic asks they receive. Engage your community in developing personal philanthropic strategies that draw on their faith and values to guide their decisions about giving. Learn more here.
Organize a congregational conversation can engage people in shifting from a mindset of scarcity to a mindset of abundance. Questions of about experiences of challenge, hope, and learning can help people reflect on their experience in a way that moves them to think more abundantly. Learn more here.
In my own practice as a fundraiser, I seek out the wisdom of BIPOC leaders (Black Indigenous People of Color) like the Rev. William Lamar of Metropolitan AME in Washington, D.C. He recently addressed the Wisconsin Conference’s Annual Meeting with a talk on “Confrontational Generosity” that can help us imagine the ways racial justice can inform our fundraising.
Rev. William Lamar of Metropolitan AME in Washington, D.C., keynoted at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Conference. He began by defining generosity, “I believe God’s spirit is calling you… to a new interpretation of what it means to be generous. Generosity beyond our culture’s penchant for automatization and individualization. Generosity beyond merciful responses to deep human pain that only justice can address. Generosity beyond sentimentality moved by the dehumanization of our siblings and the destruction of the planet that sustains us. Hear me: Generous beyond sweetness; generosity beyond niceness; generosity beyond kindness.” Then he turned to the story of Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple (Luke 19: 45-48) to explain what such generosity beyond sweetness would look and feel like. Watch Rev. Lamar’s speech and then discuss in your congregation the question: what would change in our stewardship if we practiced a confrontational generosity? Listen to all of Rev. Lamar’s speech here.
A one-session Bible study on the Old Testament story of Esther and Mordecai shows your congregation how to find and use strength and wisdom to face financial and spiritual challenges. Includes questions for discussion. Written by Rochelle Stackhouse. Available from UCC Resources here.
A brief reflection on giving to the church. Ideal for use with small groups or individually to break open the often-difficult subject of giving. Based closely on the Bible, it can also be used effectively with stewardship or finance committees of the church. Written by Rochelle A. Stackhouse. Available from UCC Resources here.
Willian Green offers brief reflections and prayers helping people to grow in generosity in this 30-day devotional. Available from UCC Resources here.