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What is the Difference in Stewardship and Generosity?

What is the Difference in Stewardship and Generosity?

While the terms stewardship and generosity are related and often used interchangeably with “giving,” they are not the same.

As churches grapple with the “new normal” of decreased attendance and declining share of gifts across all charitable giving, figuring out how to address the problem requires defining exactly what is behind it.

Addressing “giving” means addressing stewardship AND generosity

What is Stewardship?

Leo Sabo, president of Christian Stewardship Network and former Stewardship Pastor at Gateway Church in Dallas, puts it this way:

“There’s a common misconception that both stewardship and generosity are primarily about giving. Stewardship is simply managing what God has entrusted to us. It’s not a ‘campaign.’ And it’s not just about money. Our time, talents and treasure are not ours. Every decision in life is ultimately a stewardship decision. It’s thinking about me versus thinking through how to fulfill my role as a follower of Christ.”

While churches need to focus on holistically discipling in all areas (time, talents, money, environmental, life choices, relationships), finances are the clearest indicator of whether we’re building God’s kingdom or our own.

What is Generosity?

Generosity is the spirit with which we respond to the needs around us, including but not limited to finances. A person who is generous demonstrates that characteristic across every aspect of their life.

It can be instructive to look at the opposite of a word to get a better grasp of its meaning. Some of the antonyms of generous are: begrudging, petty, greedy and stingy. This attitude is addressed in these two familiar scriptures:

  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 – Dont give reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:3 – Even if we give all we possess to the poor…but don’t have love, we gain nothing.

God cares about the openness and intention of our hearts when we give!

Why We Need Both

Stewardship and generosity intercept in the simple fact that stewardship depends on the resources provided by generosity. One is the “what” and the other is the “how.”

There’s another opposite of “generous” that can manifest as a barrier to this dynamic duo: Distrustful.

At its root, stewardship is a reflection of our ability to trust God with our resources. A lack of generosity also reflects the opposite of trust. Growing in this trust, especially in the area of finances, is a lifelong process and discipline.

The Task for the Church

Addressing stewardship and generosity is one of the most challenging tasks for churches. But how we go about doing that matters. Our intention matters.

  1. The church’s mission is to disciple members to grow holistically in stewardship: time, talents, environmentally, relationships … and money.
  2. The goal can’t be simply about increasing giving. First, this approach doesn’t disciple givers on stewardship, but can border on that “compulsion” described in 2 Corinthians 9:7. Second, it can leave the perception that the church is “always asking for money.”
  3. It takes a measured, strategic approach and some level of staff accountability to pull off this level of education.

How Vision2 Helps

Our platform was built to address some of these challenges:

  1. We remove the top barriers to giving that result in abandoned gifts.
  2. Your on-page gallery of Give Stories demonstrates the impact of gifts with descriptions of ministries and vivid imagery.
  3. Media-rich gift acknowledgments come from your church, not us, allow you to further connect and express your gratitude with a video from the pastor, links to FAQs or other relevant information for the giver, and other ways to express impact.

Additionally, we are committed to providing value for churches through initiatives like our recent 2022 Stewardship Survey: Building a Next-Gen Stewardship Roadmap resource page. You’ll find access to a recent webinar and initial survey findings, followed by an invitation to the final executive report and podcast with recommendations in 8 areas of stewardship.

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