By Rob Hurtgen
Creating a culture of thanksgiving and generosity in your church is essential to having a healthy and kingdom-impacting ministry. A thankful and generous congregation is one that lives beyond itself.
The sin nature, though, doesn’t breed a thankful heart. Our fallen condition presses us to hoard, not give. Thus, a church won’t naturally drift towards thankfulness and generosity.
Thanksgiving and generosity come from hearts that are yielded to the Lord and willing to invest in people they love and places they may never see (2 Corinthians 8:5, Philippians 4:15).
In our lives, we need the gospel to transform us from gatherers to givers. In our churches, just as in our lives, we must intentionally sow the gospel to cultivate a culture of generosity.
Here are three ways to accomplish this.
1. Cultivate an attitude of thankfulness in your own heart.
A church won’t adopt attitudes they don’t see modeled. If pastors are gracious, generous, and thankful, those around them will begin to embrace a similar demeanor.
The command to rejoice and then rejoice again (Philippians 4:4) reminds and challenges us to apply the discipline of thankfulness and generosity to our own heart, enabling those gifts of grace to blossom into the lives of the church members we love.
2. Tell stories.
Sow the seeds of thankfulness and generosity by sharing stories of how such traits are impacting your church.
Writing to the church in Philippi, Paul shared how their gift impacted his life and ministry. Sharing stories of those affected by the graciousness of the church sows and grows thankfulness and generosity.
To combat indifference and hoarding, we must remind ourselves how kindness and benevolence changes lives today and for eternity.
3. Create opportunities for members to give and express thanks.
The people in your church may not express their appreciation simply because they’re not encouraged to do so. Create moments throughout the year to enable people to express their thankfulness.
One way to create opportunities to express this is to use your times of corporate prayer.
Begin your times of group prayer by asking, “What could we thank the Lord for today?” Then, allow opportunities for your people to share.
At first, the responses may be slow. After all, not many people are accustomed to expressing thanks in a group setting. Yet by creating opportunities to give thanks, your people will begin to see more reasons to be thankful.
Be Intentionally Grateful
Our sinful nature presses us toward hoarding and indifference. The gospel gives us cause for thankfulness.
The spiritual disciplines of giving thanks and practicing generosity apply the gospel to our lives and combat the lack of thanksgiving that can fester in our hearts and churches.
Sow the seeds of gratitude regularly and habitually throughout the year by intentionally practicing thankfulness and generosity.
ROB HURTGEN (@robhurtgen) is the husband to Shawn, father of five, pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri, and doctoral student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also blogs at robhurtgen.wordpress.com.