Willard and Shepherd, Contagious Generosity, Culture of Giving


Chris Willard and Jim Shepherd, Contagious Generosity: Creating a Culture of Giving in Your Church, Leadership Network Innovation Series. Zondervan, 2012.

Referenced in: Church Giving, Tithing, Generosity, Stewardsip Summary

The authors bring several years of experience consulting with churches on the subject of generosity into a systemic, developmental approach. The book divides into three sections:

Part 1: Church Development - This moves beyond the philosophy of capital campaigns and annual giving pushes that silo giving from other important emphases. They suggest creating a congregational culture where generosity is a “thread that runs through the organization and mission of the church.” This requires a strategy that is both “intentional and transformational,” and generates life change in the givers. This leads to a viral effect wherein “generosity begets generosity.”

Part 2: Leadership Development - First, leaders must set the example by their own generosity. Next they should leverage the church assemblies to “tell stories of impact, teach theology of giving, build trust, and enhance relationships.” Also, in the assemblies and in personal encounters, leaders must “ask” people to become generous, “listening to discern the intersection between a person’s passion and what they want to accomplish with their available resources.” The next level of “asking” is for leaders to develop comfort around people of significant financial means, and minister to their needs and desires.

Part 3: Impact - This involves setting up mechanisms for measuring the real data of a church’s giving patterns. Knowing who gives how much uncovers ministry opportunities, and also pinpoints acts of generosity that can be celebrated to encourage more of the same from others. The authors suggest that generosity also contributes to evangelism as a “magnet to people who do not accept the Christian faith.”

Conclusion - The authors suggest that as these components are practiced systemically, each in concert with one another, a culture of generosity emerges over time.

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Publisher’s Description

What does it look like when pastors cultivate a culture of generosity in the church by actively teaching and mentoring people in the spiritual act of giving? It’s generosity that’s contagious. A growing number of leaders are beginning to discover that there are key factors that make some churches thrive with abundant resources while others struggle with shrinking budgets. Jim Sheppard and Chris Willard have spent years consulting with church leaders across a broad spectrum of church settings and have gathered their observations into this resource, part of the Leadership Network Innovations Series. Contagious Generosity highlights the best practices gleaned from real-life church leadership situations and shows how church leaders can effectively cultivate a culture of generous giving in the local church. It explains why some churches are experiencing unexplainable ministry growth and unprecedented church funding … even in the midst of tough economic times.

About the Author

Chris Willard has more than 20 years of experience in professional ministry leadership. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and has an MBA from Belhaven College. He is a frequent speaker at retreats and conferences across the country including Family Life’s Weekend to Remember marriage conference. Before joining LN at the start of 2007, he was the Executive Pastor of Discovery Church in Orlando. Currently, Chris serves as the director of development for One Hundred X and is the director of Leadership Network’s Rapid Growth and Generous Churches Leadership Communities. He lives in Orlando with his wife Susan and their three children.

Jim Sheppard is CEO and principal of Generis, a consulting firm committed to developing and accelerating generosity for churches and Christian ministry organizations. He is an avid student of generosity and is passionate about helping church people become more generous. Since 1992, his work with churches and ministry organizations has produced more than $950 million in funding for Kingdom-related projects. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Nancy, and their two grown daughters. www.Jim

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