Mark Brooks

Understanding Acts 17 Generosity.

If churches are going to increase giving they have to move to an Acts 17 generosity mindset!  What does Acts 17 have to do about giving?  Let me explain.

Giving to the Church is changing due to the demographic shift in America.  How will this shift impact giving?  I have been for the last few months doing research on how the next generation of American givers will impact the Church.  I told a pastor the other day that I had a book in me that I was struggling to get out of me.  That book is now shaping up in my mind.  Currently the working title is Acts 17 Generosity.  Here is what started my thinking.

“The Next Generation of American Giving,” was a white paper published last year by the Blackbaud Institute, a leading think tank on charitable giving.  It revealed that our primary donor groups are aging.  It also talked about how younger generations of donors think and react differently than older donors.  This paper led to me read about the various generations and how to engage them towards giving.  That led me to the book…

“Meet Generation Z” by James Emery White a great book on this upcoming generation.  In that book he talks about how the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost rose up in Acts 2 to explain what had just happened at Pentecost.  He started with Scripture explaining what had just happened.

Fast forward to Paul in Athens in Acts 17 who gets up to preach to heathens and he starts by talking about the statue to an unknown god.  He starts with their culture and works towards introducing the one true God.  One started with the Bible and the other started with culture and moved to the Bible.

White says, “We have to move from an Acts 2 cultural context to an Acts 17 cultural context.  We are not speaking to God fearing Jews in Jerusalem.  We are standing on Mars Hill and we need an Acts 17 mindset with an Acts 17 strategy.”  Emphasis mine.

Do you have an Acts 2 mindset or an Acts 17 mindset?  

20% of our population now classify themselves as having no religion.  That number is climbing each year.  Church attendance continues to slide.  The changes in our society necessitate a change in our approach NOT our theology.  The same is true when it comes to giving.

An Acts 2 mindset says…

Give me that old time religion!  If you remember that song you are old!  The idea here is that any change is wrong.  Yet what I am advocating is not a change of theology but a change of methodology.  Paul changes HOW he communicated the Gospel he didn’t change the Gospel.

We have never done it that way before!  The eight deadly words of a church.  Change is inevitable.  We either change or die because…If you keep doing what you have always done you will not get what you always got.  An unwillingness to try anything new will cause your giving to decline.

The offering should only be taken up during a service time.  In today’s digital economy you will continually take up less and less if you do not adapt 21st century methods of commerce.  We have to make it easy for people to give by providing multiple options for giving.  How many ways can people give at your church?

Assume people know why they ought to give to your church.  Today you must make a case every time you ask people to give to your church.  I came up with a mantra a few years ago that illustrates the importance of telling your story.  One of my key giving mantras is…

Get a story, work your story, TELL about your story and people will willingly give to support that story!

Is your church thinking Acts 2 or Acts 17 when it comes to engaging our culture?  Does your offering look like Acts 2 or Acts 17?

I would love to know your thoughts on this.  Comments please?

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach