On October 5, 2017 Transform Minnesota held a pastor’s luncheon at Grace Church in Eden Prairie titled ‘Daring Generosity’. Designed to help churches establish a culture of generosity President of Transform Minnesota: Carl Nelson, CEO of Thrivent Financial: Brad Hewitt, and Lead Pastor at River Valley Church, Rob Ketterling, joined in presentation on the heart and spirit behind giving.
Meeting the Millennial Mindset
In partnership with Barna Research, Thrivent Financial conducted a recent study addressing how varying age groups view generosity. Carl Nelson shared some of the research findings and challenged the audience to consider a millennial mindset when creating platforms for giving. Carl noted that first and foremost, millennials see a strong connection between giving and compassion. For millennials, true generosity is always impactful on the recipient. Accordingly, they are far more motivated and perhaps able to give of their time and resources than of their finances. He added that millennials give to causes they are passionate about, and have “an intuitive understanding that generosity is a whole lifestyle; they are instinctive in knowing that generosity is about more than money. It is about hospitality, service, and emotional support.”
He expanded that millennials are driven by seeing tangible results and are often “motivated by seeing how their gift is going to change somebody’s life. They want to give to a result, not to an activity.” Carl suggested being more explicit about where offerings go and providing those giving with concrete examples: “We need to learn how to describe our ministry and the activities that we are doing in terms of the results, in terms of the changed lives that are happening.” Carl also explained that younger generations are much more apt to give in the spur of the moment, and encouraged those present to provide millennials with giving channels that match their habits, i.e.: EFT, giving kiosks, and online giving. He reminded the audience that millennials are often burdened with the personal roadblock of financial debt, and that the Church can honor generosity no matter the form.
Carl left the audience with the following advice:
- Give millennials a cause for their hearts to engage in.
- Talk about how giving changes a specific life.
- Honor non-monetary acts of generosity—those more intuitive and instinctive to millennials.
- Encourage millennials with the financial aspects of giving.
Be Wise, Live Generously
With 2.3 million members worldwide, Thrivent Financial operates as a Fortune 500 and is considered is one of the nation’s largest fraternal benefits organizations. CEO of Thrivent, Brad Hewitt, shared about the organization’s desire to help Christians live generously for Christ. Thrivent views generosity not as a goal, but as a tool and an outcome. It can also be a powerful catalyst to a healthy relationship with money. Brad explained that there are several different views people tend towards in viewing money, ranging from scarcity to abundance. One can use the tool of generosity to readjust their gaze.
Brad recently published a book with James Moline titled Your New Money Mindset. It was written with millennials in mind, and encourages readers to approach money management through the scope of one’s heart rather than balance sheets and budgets. In writing this book, Brad and James found that how one relates to money far outweighs any actual dollar amounts. In the hopes of dispelling some half-truths we have adopted regarding monetary-based security and happiness, Your New Money Mindset also lays some groundwork for readers to continue the discussion of money within their own small groups. Click here to learn more, or here to purchase.
Establishing a Culture of Generosity
Lead Pastor Rob Ketterling is the founding pastor at the Twin Cities River Valley Church. Since its 1995 start date, River Valley has chosen to focus on generosity—valuing outreach, missions, and per capita giving. As Rob studies and emphasizes giving at River Valley, he teaches that throughout scripture tithing was a heart issue. Rob gave the pre-law example of Abraham encountering God, his recognition of God’s goodness, and his response of giving ten percent. He added that tithing actually predates the law and is just another way to say “God has done something significant here and my heart has been touched.”
Rob reminded those present that “God is a giving God. He is generous. He is loving.” As the Church becomes better at tithing, it looks more like Christ. He invited four guests to join him up front and take a bite from the same apple. The fourth person to take a bite had a difficult time finding a spot. Rob closed this illustration by explaining that we often treat God the same way with our giving. “Give God the first bite”, he encouraged, “and give God the place of honor in your finances.”
Rob wants his congregation to feel the smile of God in their giving, adding “We are on a mission with God.” River Valley members and outside donors alike have shared that their largest motivation in giving is seeing the faces, families, and kids of the lives that are impacted from church giving. Rob invited his congregation over to his home in groups of ten, and asked them what he could do as their pastor to encourage more giving. The loudest request was for video footage of what their giving was accomplishing for the Kingdom. River Valley has since implemented the production and presentation of a video each month.
Rob closed by sharing three benchmarks he encourages his church to adopt in order to further challenge generosity:
A Plan: Create a plan beyond ten percent a month. Work the plan.
A Vision: Build a vision of what you could give or do if God showed up. Write the vision down, and pray over it.
A Dream: Hold onto a giving dream, don’t share it with others. Entrust it to God. Wait on Him.
Attendee Molly Stawarz shared that she and her husband are church planters: “I’m slowly stepping into these financial conversations and thinking through stewardship. My head is swimming, but I thought it was really helpful to have these different perspectives: from Carl, to financial planning, and Pastor Ketterling who was able to give a more personal testimony on how he shepherds his people in finances.”