Churches; Enjoy the moment!

I woke up on Monday to hear that the Washington Nationals had signed Max Scherzer to a 7 year deal. I am an Atlanta Braves fan, so this announcement did not go well with my morning coffee.

As I listened to all of the MLB Network analysts dissect the deal I quickly noticed a common theme. They spent an inordinate amount of time discussing whether Scherzer was worth the money and how his signing was going to create problems for the Nationals! Problems?! They just signed one of the most dominant pitchers in the game and added him to an already amazing pitching staff!

Max Scherzer | Image from Zimbio

Max Scherzer | Image from

It was amazing at how little was celebrated for Scherzer and for the Nationals.

I was convicted by this realization. In my personal life, I do not “stop and smell the roses” and I have noticed that churches typically do not either. Churches spend huge amounts of time, energy and money on mission projects, new outreach initiatives, youth mission trips, etc., but often times do not celebrate the victories along the way and at the conclusion.


The quick answer is that “We are on to the next thing.” I get it. However, if we do not take time to build in celebration to the overall planning of church initiatives your people will eventually burn out. We have to thank people (in special ways; not just in the bulletin) and we HAVE to connect the dots for people on how this initiative is helping us fulfill out God-inspired vision. Without the connection, people can’t understand the significance of the event and its results. If they don’t understand, they are less likely to volunteer in the future and are less likely to give dollars to support these type of initiatives.

A great way to intentionally celebrate victories of the previous year is through the annual statement to be sent out each January. Learn more on how to turn your annual statement into a ministry celebration.

Here are a few simple ways to dig deeper into the discussion on celebration: check out one my previous blog posts on celebrating generosity; interact with me on Facebook and Twitter; and download this free e-book on how to celebrate and thank your congregation for their generosity.

So, does your church know how to celebrate? Please share comments or a video of celebration at your church. I’m sure we would all love to hear about it and see it.


A generosity lesson from Daddy

Today is the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death. He died way too soon at 66. I have been reflecting off and on today about him and my time with him as a child and as a man.

My dad was a man of few words (other than when he was coaching high school basketball games). He was generous but did not talk about it much; he demonstrated it.

I had the privilege of speaking at his funeral. The title was “Lessons learned from Coach Wildes.”  Here is an excerpt from my words. It is one of the many generosity lessons I learned from daddy.

It’s the summer after 7th grade. We are living in east GA in a town very similar to Ashburn. Daddy was out of teaching for a short while to try his hand at selling and fundraising. That should make you laugh – Coach Wildes as a salesman. The only thing Daddy could sell was how his player had been fouled and that the referee had made a horrible call.

Well, his stint as a salesman in the business world lasted 6 months. He realized very quickly that was not his cup of tea and he began to try to get back into education. Finances were pretty tight (I can’t remember when they weren’t, but apparently things were tighter than normal.) Daddy got a job at a convenience store out in the middle of nowhere working the shifts that no one else wanted to work. Can you imagine Coach Wildes (aka Mr. Personality) selling you a Coke and a bag of chips? Can you imagine what it sounded like when he spoke into the speaker while you were pumping gas? Priceless. He worked there all summer until the fall started and he began drawing that big teaching paycheck again.

Lesson learned; as a man do what it takes to provide for your family. 

Daddy, you were generous in many ways.  I miss you.

How exciting is your Annual Giving Statement?

Happy New Year!

It is 2015 and the holidays are over.  Most on the church staff have New Year’s weekend off and will ‘re-enter’ reality  on January 5 (or so).  There is one person on staff who is in high gear on January 2 because they know that annual statements are looming on the near horizon (January 30).  That person is the Business Administrator/Executive Pastor/Treasurer.

Legally, the statements have to be sent letting each contributor know exactly what their charitable contributions were in 2014.

Relationally, the annual statements do not have to say anything; but shouldn’t they?  At Generis, we think the annual statement is a wonderful opportunity to illustrate to your people the life change that happens via their financial giving.

You can download a free e-book to help you as you prepare the annual statements for 2014.

I would love to preview your cover letter and help you through that process (free of charge, of course).

This video is just one example of the many valuable resources you will receive when you download the e-book.


Let me know how I can help!

“Churches; is your vision too big for people to give to?” Huh?

A long time pastor friend sent me an audio clip from NPR on what causes the brain to compel someone to give or not to give to a certain cause.

I found the 4 minute clip absolutely fascinating.  I think you will too.

I ask the question: Is your vision too big for people to give to?  I never thought I would ask that question.

Why Your Brain Wants To Help One Child In Need — But Not Millions

Pastors: Turn Stats into Stories

Do you believe stats have a story to tell in your church?  One of my best friends is an accountant and he certainly knows how to make numbers come alive and help connect numbers to real life situations.

Why don’t our churches do the same thing?  Isn’t your church impacting your people, community and world?  The proof of this is often in the numbers.  If you want your people to invest more of their dollars in the ministry of your church; connect the dots between giving and life change.

Learn how to turn stats into stories.  This short video will change how you communicate the numbers to your people.

This video is provided by Christopher Davenport at Movie Mondays.  If you like this video you should subscribe.



Everybody loves a winner!

I am a baseball fan. I love the Atlanta Braves. I have been a fan since the Hank Aaron, Ralph Garr and Dusty Baker days.

I have been spoiled over the past 20 years due to their success. This season I watched the Braves fall out of playoff contention in August and September and I found myself becoming quickly disinterested. Why? Because they weren’t winning and I just didn’t want to watch my team not perform well. I haven’t watched a complete baseball game in over a month. (That NEVER happens!) I lost faith in them.

Now it is October and the playoffs have begun. I found myself staying up late this week to watch two playoff games with four teams that I have no interest in. Why?

Everyone likes a winner, right? What draws us to winners? Why are we willing to sacrifice (for me it has been sleep this week) to be a part of winning team? Why are we willing to invest money in winning teams?

RoyalsI think the answer is pretty simple; winning makes us feel good and instills a sense of pride and accomplishment in us. Doesn’t this picture of grown men hugging each other and jumping around make you smile?

Winning makes us happy and endorphins are released when we are happy. Winning gives us the ‘warm-fuzzies.’

We should be celebrating the ‘wins’ in our churches. We should celebrate often and with great enthusiasm. There is no better way to celebrate in our churches that when lives are changed through baptism, missions, or one on one life experiences. These happen everyday in the lives of the people in our churches and the people we serve.

Are you celebrating the wins of your winning team? When do you celebrate those wins? Do you celebrate in worship around the offering time? Do you connect financial giving to the ‘wins?’

Please let me know one way that your church has celebrated a win in the past month around prior to receiving the offering.

Generosity – more than money

I am in a stretch where I have been surrounded by and sometimes immersed in a lot of heartache and tragedy that others are experiencing.  It is beginning to be so frequent that it is a bit overwhelming.  Cancer, divorce and sudden death to people too young to die are only the tip of the iceberg.

I have struggled with how to respond to each situation and to know my role and my place in each of them.  The one thing that remains clear and consistent is that people want to know that you care about them.  God has made that vividly clear to me over the past few weeks.  I have been reminded time and time again that the best thing I have to offer people is my time and my attention.

I don’t know about you but I am not as generous with my time or attention as I know I should be.  In this world of email and social media it so easy to convince ourselves we are ‘staying connected’ with people and are involved in their lives but we haven’t actually had a real time conversation with them in weeks or even months.

I always try and connect my real life experiences with my work.  This is what I came up with; the people of our churches need to be more generous with their time, attention, love, and hugs.  This is SO critical to living generously.  I get so caught up in talking about being generous with the giving of financial resources that I forget that is only one component of living a holistically generous life.

How are you doing on being generous with your entire life including your time and focus?

Pastors; Are your people willing to grow in their giving?

If you are a pastor how would you answer the question “Are your people willing to grow in their giving?”  If you are a lay person how do you think your pastor would respond?

I have asked this question many times over the past 13 years and the typical response is something along the lines of “I don’t know.  We have some families growing in their giving each year but I don’t know if all of the families in our church are willing or capable of growing in their giving.”

What I usually find after digging in a little deeper is the simple fact that most pastors have never intentionally asked their people the question “Will You Grow?”

So, my question for pastors and church leaders today is “When will you ask your people if they are willing to grow in their giving?”  One thing I know for sure; they will not grow in their giving unless you invite them to do so.

Church Debt Epidemic

Is there really a church debt epidemic?

Epidemic means to affect a disproportionately large area or group.  So, is there a church debt epidemic?  Unfortunately I have to say yes and unfortunately I find it to be the case in the more established and traditional denominations.  Why?

There is no short answer and I’m sure the answer varies from region to region but I can trace it back to the 10 year time period from 1998 – 2008.  Churches were no different than the secular housing industry.  Money was cheap and it was easy to get your hands on.  Churches in rapidly growing areas such as metro Atlanta experienced growth in attendance and felt compelled to address their facilities needs due to the increase in people attending their church.

Unfortunately many of those churches planned as if the growth would continue on forever.  Over speculation on rising attendance led to the over building of church campuses.  Many of which today are somewhat empty shells of where they were in the mid 2000’s.

So here we are.  Enough of why we are where we are.  The reasons why really do not help us address the problem and help churches figure out a way to address the debt and get out from underneath the gorilla that is standing on them and holding them back from being the shining light God intended them to be.

I feel burdened to figure out a way to help churches who are in this situation.  As a consultant who ran capital campaigns for churches during this time I now feel a sense of urgency to help churches address their debt situations.  The difficulty is that addressing debt is not any more enjoyable in the church than it is in our personal lives.

It takes:

  • Vision beyond the debt – People will give to vision.  They are not very excited about debt.  What ministries and mission work is the debt keeping us from doing?  How would things be different if the debt were gone?  What is the “Golden Tomorrow?”
  • Planning beyond tomorrow – There is not a short term solution.  What are the steps?  How long will it take?  How will we get there?  Who will lead the charge?
  • Diligence beyond belief – Again, there is not a short term solution; nor is it easy.  The Pastor and leaders must be patient and persistent.  There MUST be consensus from the leaders that this is the course we are taking and we will not veer from it until the plan is complete.

Is your church in debt?  How much?  How are you handling the debt?  Is the debt crippling or is it manageable?  What is your solution?

If your church is in debt who knows about it?  Does anyone outside of the Finance Team and Senior Leadership Team know?  When will you begin the conversation?  What will the conversation be with the congregation?  Transparency is key to addressing the problem.

I’d love to learn from you.