These stages focus on behaviors, attitudes of our hearts, and how we are following Jesus rather than on amounts or percentages. Each step represents growth in a lifestyle of generosity and sacrifice that transforms us into the likeness of Christ who gave up everything to give us a hope today and forever.
An Initial Giver is someone who decides to give for the first time, out of a response to God’s Word about giving. This is someone who decides to give and trust God with their gift.
A Consistent Giver is someone who commits to give something on a regular basis. Consistent Givers start to think of their giving in the same way they think about other budget expenses that are always paid, regardless of seasons of plenty or want. They often set up an online recurring gift to help.
Intentional Givers think about giving in relation to other things they spend their money on: “Why do I give the cable company or my cell provider more money than I give to God?” They consider a percentage or amount they want to commit to in order to consciously grow in their generosity. Intentional Givers look at their budget and consider how their giving reflects their view of God and commitment to his Kingdom.
A Surrendered Giver is someone who recognizes the cost Christ paid on the cross for us and is surrendered to honoring God with 100% of their resources as a result. Their giving governs their spending/saving rather than their spending/saving governing their giving. A Surrendered Giver isn’t concerned with what they ARE giving but more concerned with what they’re NOT giving and why. They seek to honor God with what he has given them, whether direct monetary giving or a God-honoring use of an existing resource like a home or a vehicle.
A Lifetime Giver is someone who makes decisions in the short term that have longer-term effects as it relates to their generosity capacity. They think of what home they buy, what car they purchase, and how much they choose to keep all in relation to their generosity capacity. A Lifetime Giver might be someone who has a lifetime giving goal or a long-term commitment that governs his/her larger-item purchases, such as homes, investments, and the like.
Generosity Initiatives rely on church members making gifts that will expand and accelerate their current level of giving. The best path to increased giving is the spiritual path, where you set your heart on things above. Financial priorities then take shape from the spiritual priorities.
One way of defining this is “Lifestyle Giving”, a term used to describe a level of generosity thataffects the day-to-day rhythms of your life. The challenge of Lifestyle Giving is to find ways, boldlyand prayerfully, to let your giving touch your living!
In the Bible, King David said, “I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that havecost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24 NLT) David understood the gift that would touch the heart ofGod must first touch the heart of the giver. This is the spirit of Lifestyle Giving: If it is for my God,my gift must have value and meaning to me.
Often, Lifestyle Giving means giving up something in one area so that you can give more of yourself in another. The three keys to Lifestyle Giving are:
• Reassess lifestyle
• Rearrange priorities
• Reallocate resources
Many believers have been amazed at their ability to give more generously to their church. The following seven steps are offered to help you in this regard.
1. Practice priority budgeting
Many families will choose to rearrange their priorities and give up something in their current budget in order to give more to a generosity initiative. Priority budgeting may mean postponing a planned expenditure such as a new car, vacation, home remodeling or othermajor purchase. Many Christians giving to capital stewardship campaigns find a way to give through sacrificial commitments made in faith and coupled with priority budgeting.
2. Redirect present expenditures
Often, families have significant short-term expenditures for special needs. One example is thelarge expenditure a family incurs for a child to attend college. A family might realize that their daughter would be graduating from college during the three years of the generosity initiative and, as a result, they would able to increase their commitment in the second or third year of
a campaign by thousands of dollars by giving what they would have been spending on theirdaughter’s tuition. Another example would be the cash flow that is freed up when a loan ispaid off.
3. Increased giving with Increased income
Some people receive periodic increases in salary from their employers. The temptation formany of us is to increase our lifestyle to fit the higher income. Some might decide that they willcommit the full amount of salary increases to the vision of Unimaginable.
4. Give from your excess
Someone might decide that donating the proceeds from a valuable collector’s item would bethe most appropriate means of sacrifice for their family. Some families might donate money thathad been saved up over a period of years for a house project. Funds that have been saved for
a vacation home or an extra car would be great examples of how to give out of the excess that God has gave us.
5. Commit unexpected cash
Often, people pray for God to show them a way they can give beyond what they can presently see or afford. Sometimes, the answers come unexpectedly. It might be a surprise inheritance that a family can give on top of their regular giving, or a bonus at the end of a year.
6. Sacrifice your extra time
Some family members have extra time they would be willing to use in a part-time job to be able to give more to the church. This is particularly true for families whose children are grown andaway from home or for semi-retired and retired couples. Someone might donate the first fewyears of their retirement income to God’s plan through his church.
7. Donate appreciated assets (stored resources)
Many people own stocks that are worth significantly more than the original purchase price. That is good news. The bad news is that if these stocks are sold, a significant portion of the gainwould be lost to taxation.
Gifts of appreciated assets – typically investment securities or real estate – can be very advantageous to both the donor and to the church. By transferring ownership of the asset to the church, the donor avoids capital gains taxes on the sale of the asset. In addition, the donor
receives an income tax charitable deduction for the full market value of the asset. That, in effect, makes these gifts less costly to make.
Though it is important to invest your giving to further the mission of the ministry God has laid on your heart, it is also important to consider the tax implications of making a gift to the church. Beforemaking a commitment of this type, please consult your CPA, tax attorney or other financial advisor.
A Final Word
Giving does not have to be in equal increments over the three-year period of the campaign. Youmight be able to give more in the second or third years than in the first. As you think about your financial commitment to the campaign, think not just of your potential to give right now, but alsoof your potential to give in the future. It might be that you can make a three-year commitment in which 75% will be given in the second half of the commitment.
Finally, as you consider your financial commitment to the Lord’s work, you might want toconsider estate planning. Many sincere, committed Christian people have not made plans for generosity in their wills and estate planning. Now might be a good time to do that. It might be as simple as including a provision in your will that 10 percent of the value of your estate will be donated to the church holding your letter of membership at the time of your passing. Or, it could involve a planned gift such as a charitable remainder trust. While suchgifts do not provide immediate financial benefit to a generosity initiative, they are marvelousgifts of faith commitment to carry on the work of the church for future generation.
“I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.”
2 Samuel 24:24