5 Actions That Can Close the Generosity Gap


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Thursday, June 20, 2024, at 2:00 PM EST

Are You Experiencing a “Generosity Gap?” 

I came across this term recently and felt it perfectly summed up what churches experience. 

The generosity gap refers to the disparity between the resources needed to fund the mission and activities of a church and the actual resources available. The gap grows even larger if we include what we “want” to do to what we “need” to fund the mission.

Generosity Gap Outcomes

This gap significantly impacts a church’s ability to accomplish its mission and serve its communities. Perhaps you’ve felt some of these generosity gap realities:

  1. Reduced funding for ministry and outreach: When the resources available to a church are limited, it can be challenging to fund all the ministries and outreach programs needed to effectively serve the community. This can result in reduced staff, programming, and other resources essential to the church’s mission. Essentially, a generosity gap turns churches inward.
  2. Decreased engagement and attendance: When churches struggle to fund their operations and programs, it can lead to reduced engagement and attendance. Members may feel that their financial contributions are not making a significant impact, or they may be hesitant to support a financially struggling church.
  3. Limited resources for facilities and infrastructure: Churches often rely on the generosity of their members to maintain their facilities and infrastructure. When resources are limited, making necessary repairs and upgrades can be difficult, hurting the church’s ability to carry out its mission.
  4. Stressed relationships: Financial stress can strain relationships within the church community. Members may feel resentful if they perceive that others are not contributing their fair share, or they may feel burdened if they cannot give as much as they would like.

In summary, churches cannot thrive in a generosity gap. Many can’t even survive.

What You May Be Doing That Isn’t Working 

The generosity gap can be a significant challenge for churches. Still, some steps can be taken to address it.

But let’s first address what too many churches do that accidentally broaden the gap.

  1. Lean on Vision: I see this all the time. We’ve allowed ourselves to believe that people give to vision. That’s true, but only partially true. A compelling vision may generate a one-time gift, but activated vision drives recurring generosity. A vision that doesn’t come to fruition is only words, and people will not consistently give to the “bark without any bite.”
  2. Assume Spiritual Maturity: Giving is spiritual, not financial. When we assume people are progressing along a discipleship journey, we may accept a reality that is not true. Things like membership and group participation are not necessarily growth mechanisms. Any lack of discipleship intentionality creates a growth gap that keeps people spiritually stalled.
  3. Drive-By Gratitude: This is the most common mistake I see. Pastors step on the stage or behind the pulpit, give a welcome, cast a little vision, and close with, “And for those of you who give to our mission, thank you.” I fully believe churches should thank givers (I help you develop a “thank you” system in my masterclass), but gratitude alone is insufficient to engage people financially. Especially this type of drive-by gratitude.
  4. Teaching on EVERYTHING Except Generosity: Biblical authors wrote a lot about money. Jesus talked about money. A lot. The reason is apparent: Money, and how we see it, use it, and feel about it, is spiritual. It’s spiritual malpractice to not teach about money.

Closing the Generosity Gap

Closing the generosity gap requires a plan. The good news is plans and systems make everything we do simple and repeatable. Systems create margin. And systems ensure we don’t revert to our previous (not working) ways.

Here are FIVE intentional actions that will help you close the generosity gap:

  1. Recognize the FIVE Categories of Givers in Your Church: Faith journeys require steps. Today, people need more sequential and incremental steps than before. By understanding the generosity behaviors of our current congregation, we can better plan and focus our communication more directly to inspire movement to easy and obvious next steps.


  2. Create Generosity Onramps: The majority of people attending your church aren’t financially engaged in your church. There are a few reasons, but the most significant is they aren’t yet ready to make a financial leap. What non-givers need is an incremental onramp to begin a generosity journey. We create these by connecting smaller gifts to tangible needs.
  3. Thank People For Funding What’s Coming: Churches should thank givers. However, I also believe churches should focus on future opportunities more than past successes. “Thank you for helping make our student camp happen” is kind, but it’s already happened. What happened in the past doesn’t necessarily inspire generosity for the future. A better statement would be, “For those of you who give, thank you in advance for helping us create a camp next week for students to engage in faith in new ways.”
  4. Share More Stories: Stories of life change bring your mission and vision to life. As we said, people don’t give to rhetoric; they give to action. When we share stories, we prove our words aren’t aspirational but actionable.
  5. Teach On Money: People must be practically and spiritually educated on money. Money is so emotional. And it’s often the last thing we give to God. I suggest churches teach a money series (3 – 4 weeks) annually, preach a one-off message annually, and incorporate financial curriculum into their small group rotation. Now, when I suggest you “teach on money,” I mean holistically. Teach about budgeting, debt, and generosity. We need to help people handle money, not to give away money. 

It’s About More Than Money, Too

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV)

Perhaps the best news is that closing the generosity gap grows the faith of our church. When we can inspire people along a generosity journey, we help them engage with God in new, fresh ways.

If you’d like help or need a system to close the generosity gap at your church, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m helping a few dozen churches right implement more intentionality around giving. The results have been outstanding. And more importantly, we aren’t sacrificing the church mission to grow giving.

Here’s one example of how the Funding Funnel is helping a church. Meet Bryant Golden, the senior pastor at Centerpoint Church in Tampa, Florida. Bryant and Centerpoint Church have experienced:

  • 206% Increase in NEW GIVERS
  • 62% Increase in TOTAL GIVERS
  • 26% Growth in TOTAL GIVING
  • 112% Increase in RECURRING GIVERS

It may be coincidental, but:

  • ATTENDANCE grew by 48%
  • SERVING increased by 13%

The Funding Funnel is a proven system that helps churches understand the five categories of givers currently in the church and creates a journey that inspires everyone to their best next generosity step.

The next Funding Funnel Masterclass begins NEXT WEEK on MAY 4.


I’m so confident that this system will help you that I’ll guarantee it. I’ll refund your investment if you implement the system and don’t see progress.

Before we go, here are 2 other articles that may help:

I hope you’ll jump into this next group,



In this masterclass, we will focus on the categories of givers that currently exist in your church and how to best systematically inspire them forward in their generosity journey.

  • Five 1-Hour Sessions over 5 weeks.
  • PLUS One Individual Session.
  • That’s 6 HOURS of time we’ll spend together!
  • Groups limited to 10 churches to increase the personalization.
  • Don’t worry if you miss a session! Recorded replays are available to all participants.
  • Plus, FREE RESOURCES, including The Funding Funnel Planning 12-Month Template, Category Boundary Descriptions, Vision Scripts and Content Creation Templates, Thank You Systems and Ideas, Email Templates and Samples, and Segmentation Ideas to target your communications.