By Gina Calvert

Why Churches Should Prioritize Stewardship Over Generosity

We’ve recently been discussing the difference between stewardship and generosity. In a nutshell:

  • Stewardship is managing all that God has entrusted to us (time, treasure, talents, earth, belongings, and relationships, etc.).
  • Generosity is how we respond to the needs around us.

The two concepts overlap in the simple fact that our generosity funds the management of what is ours to steward…and beyond.

Which One is Most Important?

If you’re considering creating a stewardship initiative at your church, you may wonder how to distinguish and balance these conversations.

The fact is, you need to teach BOTH of these concepts, but it needs to be done holistically. To be effective, stewardship training should cover all areas of stewardship, not just financial. Strictly focusing on financial discipling can leave a bad taste in some givers’ mouths, feeling that you’re simply asking for money. Putting finances in the context of the members’ spiritual growth in many areas helps them to see, as Jud Wilhite, Pastor of Central Church puts it, “It’s not what we want from you, it’s what we want for you.”

Generosity discipling comes out of growing trust in God and the church. It can be a muscle of sorts, that the church can help givers exercise incrementally, through such programs as Central’s Generosity Rockstar or microdonation commitments.

How Churches Are Prioritizing These Concepts

In our recent stewardship survey, we discovered that for larger churches, stewardship (financial discipling) was a top priority over simply focusing on giving amounts and budgetary concerns. Smaller churches were more likely to focus on generosity (giving amounts) due to financial challenges.

Access 2022 Stewardship Survey resources and report

Recommendations & Goals

While both a stewardship and generosity focus are needed, churches should prioritize stewardship of givers’ relationship with God over giving amounts. Even smaller churches and church plants stretched thin financially should skew toward this intention because educating and growing trust in God are key to members’ spiritual development. And these ultimately provide a more solid foundation for consistent generosity that grows over time.

So set specific goals for stewardship and for giving. You need–and should track–both!

  • Stewardship: Track new givers and how many households go through financial training.
  • Generosity: Track giving frequency, consistency, gift amounts and overall totals, household participation (not just individuals).

To learn how Vision2 supports your stewardship and generosity goals, reach out to us with your questions.