How did this happen? Was there a big campaign? A change in church leadership or a new vision to rally behind? Was there a financial emergency where the church’s future hung in the balance? Did someone finally come up with the ‘magic words’ that awakened guys to the financial needs of the church?
None of the above. Keep reading.
Nine months ago, some guys walked into a conference room at their church. Each guy applied and was accepted into a men’s small group mentoring program being launched by a staff pastor. Most hardly knew each other. A couple of the older ones introduced themselves as mentors, and the conversations began. It was the first step in a journey that led to significant life-change, spiritual growth, and (obviously) better stewardship. But it wasn’t about giving . . . it was about life.
We make two mistakes when we think about church giving. First, we think short-term. We have immediate needs, so we call for immediate action. And while that might ‘work’ in a pinch, it’s not sustainable. Yelling “fire” in the theater has a limited useful life. We need men and women who are sold out to the mission and vision of the church instead of ‘fair weather fans’ who’ll ‘tip God’ with a few bucks when something hits their emotional radar.
Our other mistake is coming at people from the outside in. Pastors care deeply about the church and what God wants to do in and through it. “Surely, if I lay out the need and the opportunity, people will come behind it with their cash.” But that’s not always the case. Remember the cartoon you saw scotch-taped to the wall behind people’s desks a few years ago? “A new priority for you does not create an emergency for me!” Unless there’s a deep relationship with God, there won’t be a deep conviction about the work of the church. Giving will feel obligatory and done sporadically.
So what’s the answer?
Every serious Christian knows Matthew 28:19-20; at least the part that says “Go and make disciples . . .” The Message paraphrase of that verse says “Go and teach everyone this way of life.” Following Jesus is a ‘way of life.’ Being generous with the church, the poor and each other is part of this way of life. To figure out how to teach someone a way of life, we need look no further than Jesus Himself. He picked a small group of guys and walked with them for a season. The way of life Jesus lived in front of His disciples was caught as well as taught. As you know, the whole movement was called The Way long before it was called Christianity. His guys watched as Jesus modeled how to live, love, forgive, challenge, minister, interpret Scripture, pray, and ultimately, die. The writer of Hebrews pointed to this when he said, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7, emphasis mine).
The guys mentioned at the beginning of this writing walked with their mentors for a season to learn ‘this way of life.’ Their mentors helped them grasp their identity as adopted sons of the King. They embraced the grace of God, learned how to both talk and listen to God in prayer, and developed a Biblical approach to marriage and relationships. They learned about the role and responsibilities of the local church. They read a book about priorities and talked with their mentor and each other about stewardship of the resources God has given them. And they developed their own personal ministry plans to walk with others for a season and pay it forward. At the end of their mentoring year, they filled out a survey. Collectively, 97% said they’d grown closer in their walk with God, 98% said they felt more connected, 58% “increased” or “significantly increased” their giving and 100% said they were glad they experienced the group.
So why did these men raise their giving so drastically?
Because they learned ‘this way of life.’ They learned the principles of The God Guarantee . . . how to trust God with everything. By ‘doing life’ with mentors and with each other, they started to experience this way of life.
The church can engage their wise men as mentors to those coming behind them. Virtually all younger men want a mentor! And something in older men wants to help . . . wants to share their experience and ‘pay it forward.’ When they do, amazing things happen in the lives, homes, and marriages of it’s younger leaders. And the church gets more committed, all-in generous lay leaders and God gets the glory!
To learn how to launch men’s small group mentoring at your church, visit radicalmentoring.com/GodGuarantee. Everything you’ll find there is available without charge due to the generosity of pastors, churches, mentors, and mentees who have been touched by Radical Mentoring’s ministry.