You will not likely get more out of your members through a guilt trip. I doubt many of them respond to pulpit reprimands. Negative tactics only provoke negative responses. Guilt is a terrible motivator. Chastise your people into emptying wallets for missions, and they will likely oblige once out of duty. Creating an ongoing culture of generosity for missions among the church body takes an entirely different approach.
A willingness to give up personal safety is a sign of a willingness to give up financial security. First responders put their lives on the line. With fire personnel and EMTs, we talk of “service before self.” With police, we talk of the “thin blue line.” It doesn’t take much to turn order into chaos, and our first responders help keep order. Our churches have the same fragile environment. One spat with the wrong congregants can turn order into chaos. Pastors and church members who give up safety will become more generous. When you are willing to give up your life for the gospel, then giving up financial security is less of an issue.
Sacrifice in one area will grow to sacrifices in other areas. There are two types of greed: The desire for more stuff and the desire for more safety. Some pursue greed because they want more toys. Others pursue greed because money is their safety net. The antidote to greed is sacrifice. God does not underwrite thieves. Would you keep giving and being faithful to someone who is regularly stealing from you? Why would we expect God to bless our churches when we are not being faithful to Him? Sacrificial giving changes your lifestyle. In fact, if what you are giving does not change the way you live, then it is not sacrificial. Pastors and church leaders who are willing to sacrifice—change the way they live—in one area of ministry are much more likely to grow in sacrificial giving to missions.
Generosity is contagious when celebrated. In most churches, pastors are not digging into the giving records of individuals. Most congregations would not accept a leader board of the largest donors. While individual monetary gifts are difficult to celebrate, time given is not. Not everyone has the capacity to give significant sums of money. But everyone has the capacity to give time. Celebrate church members who are generous with their time. You become what you celebrate. When you celebrate generosity, you become generous.
Make mission work an expectation of the church body. Don’t neglect making local and cross-cultural mission work an explicit expectation of the congregation. Pastors should lead mission trips and equip others to lead. Pastors should serve alongside other members when the church is doing community outreach. If it’s an expectation of the church, then it is also an expectation of the pastor.
A generous church to missions begins with the pastor. Do you want more people to live on mission, go on mission trips, and give to missions? Then the pastor must live on mission, go on mission trips, and give to missions.
This article was originally published at ChurchAnswers.com. Sam serves as the president of Church Answers. He is also the lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church and the co-host of the Est.Church and Rainer on Leadership podcasts. Sam co-founded Rainer Publishing and serves as the president of Revitalize Network. Sam publishes a weekly article and two podcasts at ChurchAnswers.com and can be found on Twitter @SamRainer.