It is not uncommon for pastor’s to teach and preach towards two specific types of giving. The descriptive terms often used are “percentage giving” and “planned giving.” Both of these speak toward the habit, discipline, duty, and often sacrifice of generosity. I personally practice both percentage and planned giving. They are really helpful to living the giving way. However, there is a third type of generosity that needs to be championed. It is actually the preference of many adults today.
Barna released a report a few years ago entitled “The Generosity Gap.” It investigated how different generations view generosity. It also uncovered some potential disconnects between how pastors think in contrast to the general population of Christians.
Here are some important findings related to giving being motivated in the “spur of the moment.”
-20% of pastors believe generosity happens often/always in the spur of the moment
-37% of Gen Xer’s believe generosity happens often/always in the spur of the moment
-45% of Millenials believe generosity happens often/always in the spur of the moment
So pastor, if the focus of our teaching is solely on prepared and planned giving without adequate support for spontaneous giving we are under-serving a large portion of today’s adults. This is really important when it comes to growing generous followers of Christ. There is actually biblical support for giving in the spur of the moment. Do you remember the story of the boy with the fishes and the loaves? I do not think he left home that morning thinking his giving moment would occur. What about Zacchaeus? He simply climbed the tree with the interest in learning more about Jesus. By the team he had descended he had surrendered 4x times what he had received! This is way more than the typically planned and percentage giving taught in the tithe.
So, I am for planned and percentage giving. But I am also a big fan of spontaneous giving. I also believe spontaneous giving can be super generous, not just being limited to smaller gifts. Here are some tips to help cultivate more spontaneous generosity in your people.
Tip #1: Be sure to affirm and teach that spontaneous giving is actually a thing. Cultivate habits like compassion, being alert, sensitive, listening to the voice of God, and ready to respond boldly in a moments notice.
Tip #2: Celebrate and support spontaneous generosity. This can be done by telling stories when you see someone behaving in a generous way whether big or small. You can also provide spontaneous giving moments multiple times during the year.
Tip #3: Teach your people to be prepared to give spontaneously. My wife and I set aside a percentage amount from every paycheck in our “Above and Beyond” giving account. Then we wait for God to speak. We are actually planned, prepared, and percentage spontaneous givers.
Tip #4: Go mobile and go modern. Most people do not carry cash or checks with them today. However, we always have our phones. Generosity by Lifeway gives away a free mobile generosity app for every church in America! It is wired to be fun for the giver and easy for the pastor. You can even set up a recurring gift or donate a noncash item, like an unused gift card or car. Get ready to give almost anything, anywhere. We like to say a giving moment can occur any time so get ready!
Pastor, generosity happens a number of ways these days. If we limit our teaching to the duty side of giving we will never experience joy-filled givers. So unleash spontaneous giving today!