categories: ChurchMetrics,, church, community, global church, global culture, leadership, working together
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May 28th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

25 comments (+ Add)

Giving Out

As a pastor, I’ve always seen it as my role to teach people to give. My primary teaching has been to lead people to give to the local church. While I still believe the local church is the hope of the world (quoting Bill Hybels), I am not as focused on what our church can “bring in” financially, but what we can “give out.”

For years I said to myself, “One day, when we have ____________, we’ll be more generous.” The words in the blank changed over time.

  • One day when we have a real building…
  • One day when we have a bigger staff…
  • One day when we have the building paid off…
  • One day when we complete the new phase…
  • One day when we add these new campuses…

After years of half-hearted promises, I believed God said “Today is one day. It is time to put your money where your mouth is.”
We’ve worked to change our culture to a culture of generosity. (We’ve learned a lot from Dino Rizzo at Healing Place and Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands.)

Since success isn’t simply bringing money in, we see it as…

  • Providing as many free resources as possible to help other churches.
  • Making a significant impact on the people in our community.
  • Helping meet needs around the world in the name of Jesus.

When it comes to finances and resources, for us success is no longer just what we bring in, but what we send out.

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  1. May 28, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Such a great reminder! Our God is the greatest giver…if only we could be more like Him. I especially love the last sentence of this post.
    My church is doing a series on The Blessed Life which focuses on the importance of living with an open hand of generosity. A good challenge/inspiration for a grad student with very little money! I’m attempting to take exercises of faith to give more, and thus give God more glory.

  2. May 28, 2009 at 6:25 am

    I have often looked at my church and wondered what we can give in terms of resources to other churches here in Africa and I end up blank…I hope to spur my fellow workers to see what we can do so that we can get out of the “church rat race” for bringing in the numbers.

  3. May 28, 2009 at 6:36 am

    I love this and I completely agree. There is such a balance in painting a vision for the future and in using the resources God has given at the time. If we are faithful in a “little”, perhaps He will bless us with more.

    Ron Edmondson

  4. May 28, 2009 at 7:55 am

    This is so wonderful! I pray every church leader would read, hear and DO what this post encourages. I truly think MANY problems in general can be solved through giving (something). I guess you can say giving is like an exercise program…very hard to start for some reason but once you start giving it is life changing and you realize that you are not the best “you” you can be without giving your gifts to this world! :)

  5. May 28, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Craig - thanks for taking the lead on this. I have seen you live this personally and challenge us as a team to live it ourselves. One of the many reasons I’m so proud to be a part of the team is because of this very thing. Generosity just bleeds integrity.

  6. May 28, 2009 at 8:19 am

    What a great post! It is so exciting to see the Spirit moving pastors and church leaders in this direction. Feel free to give out Setting Captives Free as a one of your free resources.
    God bless you, brother.

  7. May 28, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Giving = investing! As Rick Warren says, “The best way to invest in heaven is to invest in those who are going there.” An awesome convergence occurs when we “give out” to others AND “invest in” those who are entrusted to our leadership. It’s a both/and thing.

  8. 8Larry C
    May 28, 2009 at 8:33 am

    It’s awesome to hear this and see this. I love the frankness and boldness to challenge your church to put their money where their mouth is. It is so refreshing to see people giving their resources away for the greater good. This is better equiping others to lead. It furthers His kingdom.

    There was a time in my life when I had allowed bitterness and other issues to cause me to leave the church for awhile to refocus. It seemed like we were getting so many things wrong. God challenged my heart and pointed to this very thing, this “giving out” to show me I was wrong and needed a heart-change. Now I see and feel purpose again. Thank you for continuing to shed light on this. The church is getting it very right when they are “giving out.”

  9. 9Brice
    May 28, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Craig- I believe that your obedience in following God on this is already and will continue to change the culture of the Church for His glory. I’m so proud of what LifeChurch is doing!

  10. May 28, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I am always convicted when I hear of Cornerstone led by Francis Chan giving away 55% of their tithes to those who need it. They had to make some serious adjustments in staff to make this happen but they believe when Jesus said “whatever you do to the least of these you do to me” that it is a call to love and give. Is the church setting the example for the world? I mean, we ask or congregation to give generously and with joy, but does the church give? Is it better to give than receive? American culture and the American Dream certainly does not follow this principle!

    I think the world wants more and more. Christians often follow this desire. I think many don’t give because they feel they cannot afford it. They cannot “afford” it because they have bought the boat, the vacation home on the beach, the new cars, new clothes, tuition for school, eating out, etc. There needs to be a lifestyle change! We are chasing after the wrong dream! I think the church does this at times too. I love Ginghamsburg Church in Dayton Ohio. They run several services every Sunday and the people often ask why they don’t just build a new building to facilitate the numbers. Their pastor has a different mindset. He makes goals to give millions of dollars to the Sudan instead of having the comfort of more seats. They run 16+ services on holidays like Christmas. It is crazy, but they have been moved by the truth that it is more blessed to give than receive.

  11. 11Brian Bruce
    May 28, 2009 at 9:41 am


    Thank you for challenging me on this over the years. God’s message and plan as articulated through you has loosened my grip on what is “mine” and allowed God to bless me beyond what I could do on my own.

    May God continue to bless and enlarge the church’s territory as it responds in faith.

  12. 12steveharrison
    May 28, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I love my church! I love my pastors and staff! But 4 things literally blow me away about; network churches, open resources, youversion, and church online. My family and I are so blessed to be a part of a church that is leading, sending, and giving. Network Churches—what an awesome opportunity for a church anywhere, whether in the US or abroad, often smaller churches in smaller communities or in so called ‘unchurched’ (non bible belt) areas that now have access to anointed teaching and even worship if they so choose. I love hearing testimonies from some of these pastors as they share what our great God is doing in their church and community. Wow! Changed lives, that is what it is all about… Open resources–being downloaded and used all over the world, incredible that a church in the US, Australia, a tiny island in the Pacific, a small community in Africa, and we could go on and on…they have access to freely use great tools to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Youversion, whether online through the internet or a mobile device but youversion has provided simple, instant access to the bible and is encouraging many to spend time in the word that might not otherwise. I love youversion! It is changing lives! Another, is Church Online…everytime I drop in someone has a need or an opportunity to come face to face with our Savior and make a decision that will change their life. Folks from all over the world are checking in, many are having needs met, being prayed for, encouraged, empowered, and many are making first time decisions to follow Christ through Church Online! I love the local church and the community we step into to minister… but what a privilege and an honor to partner with a church that is all in, goes all out, and gives all out to lead folks to become fully devoted followers of Christ. I believe each of these are going to see explosive growth, ministering to literally millions of people all over the world. Excited to be a part of such a time as this…–thanks for being so generous and creating a culture that models Christ!!

  13. May 28, 2009 at 10:02 am

    For God so loved the world that he gave…That says it all.

    Thanks Craig for modeling generosity.

  14. May 28, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Craig, I’m wondering if you would give us a percentage breakdown of what a healthy church should look like in allocating finances. I know that it will vary from church to church based off of tradition and vision - but I think we would all appreciate a simple perspective such as:
    Salary = ___%
    Ministry = ___%
    Facility Expenses = ___%

  15. May 28, 2009 at 10:20 am

    It’s an honor every single day to be a part of OPEN and to see great accomplishments in churches around the world through our resources. We have received so much positive feedback that I know this is a worthwhile effort and that we are as blessed by it as other churches are. Thanks for taking the lead on giving out, Craig.

  16. May 28, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Craig & - I just want to say THANK-YOU! Your love for Jesus, the Church, and those outside the faith is such an example. I appreciate your transparency, vulnerability, and your generousity which equals phenomenal leadership. Thanks for OnePrayer and OPEN and all the other things that you and your staff do to build HIS Kingdom. I’m grateful for your challanges and thoughts.

  17. 18jeremy
    May 28, 2009 at 11:33 am

    we really appreciate free resources (including knowledge) through, swerve & openlifechurch. It’s challenged me to think more kingdom-minded.

  18. May 28, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for the input Craig. Where should I go to get a better grasp on healthy percentages? I’m 33 and transitioning into the lead pastor in the next few years, and while I’m naive about church finances, I’m still disturbed that our percentages are far from what they should be (huge on salary, scarce on ministry). Any suggestions? Thanks again - you guys have truly been a part of shaping our plans for the future!

  19. May 28, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    thanks craig… another dope post… great to see a pastor building with other leaders, its encouraging for “US” … GenY

  20. May 28, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Brian, Here are some thoughts (from an American church perspective). Most churches I work with have between 45% and 60% going toward staff. In most cases, the older the church, the higher the percentage. (There are tons of exceptions.)

    I prefer lower to higher but am willing to float up temporarily if we are staffing for growth. We have generally been between 38% and 42% in recent years.

    I also like to drive building costs down by keeping them simple and using them 6 or 7 times on the weekend rather than once or twice. This frees up resources to put in other places.

    Others are welcome to weigh in on this discussion.

  21. May 28, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    We are in the middle of a church plant and have been blessed with a free old church building and this is definitely an area God has been speaking to me on while we model our strategy for this community is trying to use what he’s given us to give back to the community.

  22. 23JT
    May 29, 2009 at 6:26 am

    We so often kill our joy received from giving because we become stingy and hoard. A loose grip and open hands with the things God gave us to steward will go a long way to help us become more generous.

    Check out how we kill our generosity. What other ways do we do this?


  23. May 29, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Giving Out - : swerve…

    Bookmarked your post over at Blog!…

  24. Jun 1, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    I feel our ministry success should never be measured my our financial resources. Our ministry should be measured in souls for the kingdom, the building up of the saints, and the glorification of Christ. At times money will be required, but most of the time it involves of giving of ourselves with listening ears, working hands, walking legs, and most of all our time. It is much easier to give money than time. No one seems to have much of it anymore. The Bible tells us that whatsoever our hand finds to do, do it with all our might as unto the Lord. The Acts church was successful not because of their buildings or finances, but rather a willing heart to go where the Lord wanted them to go, and do what the Lord wanted them to do. All successful ministry must be as Spirit lead as this.