A few months ago I asked a number of ministry network leaders about potential key donors in their countries. Most had no idea who they were. About the same time a Christian businessman told me that he and other business people would like to give more to Christian causes if they could find projects worth investing in.
Why couldn’t the ministry leaders and those willing to give find each other?
Is this disconnect between potential givers, ministries, churches, Christian professional networks, and other Christian groups discouraging or hindering Christian generosity? Could this be a contributing factor as to why Christians give on average US$177 per year or about 2.14% of their total income to Christian causes, and on average only US$10 per year to global mission? Could this disconnect be a reason why only one cent of every US$100 the Global Church spends on ministry is spent in countries where the majority is unevangelised?
To counter this, the Resource Mobilisation Working Group (RMWG) is concluding that Christian networks, ministries, churches, and other groups need to work together to motivate Christians to give more of their income to Christian causes and to encourage Christians to become better stewards of their resources.
The RMWG, itself a joint initiative between the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and the World Evangelical Alliance, seeks to catalyze a global culture of Christian generosity and effective stewardship of God’s resources to support world outreach.
The RMWG also provides a networking point for generosity ministries such as Stewardship Council (publisher of the Stewardship Study Bible), the National Christian Foundation in the U.S., Foundations, MinistrySpotlight (a technology-based generosity platform), the Strategic Resources Group, and others.
The RMWG has developed “Generosity Networks” as an approach to facilitating greater collaboration between Christians around generosity and stewardship issues. The idea is for local, national, regional, and global Generosity Networks to connect Christians and enable a global culture of increased generosity and stewardship. As Phill Butler, Lausanne’s senior associate for partnership, says, “Connectedness is no longer an option—it is the name of the game.” Today, collaboration enables extraordinary opportunities for creativity, innovation, and acceleration of evangelism and related ministries.
The Generosity Networks idea was launched at Cape Town 2010. While still in the formative stages, Generosity Networks are intended to have the following characteristics:
- Involve Christian business people, churches, Christian networks, parachurch ministries, Christian professional fellowships, Christian prayer networks, and theological institutions who work together to increase Christian giving and improve stewardship.
- Identify barriers to giving and determine ways to overcome those barriers or identify examples of good giving practices that could be shared with other networks to encourage them in their giving.
- Discuss issues around generosity and stewardship (such as financial management) and organize workshops, seminars, and conferences to deal with these issues.
- Develop strategies for increased giving and improved stewardship in their communities/countries/regions.
- Provide a space for linking resources with needs in a local community, country, or region.
- Encourage the development of generosity and stewardship ministries and writing of generosity materials that could then be shared with other networks.
- Encourage the teaching of generosity and stewardship in their areas of operation.
- Encourage prayer for giving.
Generosity Networks are local, national, and regional partnerships of different Christian stakeholders working together to enable increased Christian giving and improve stewardship from their contexts. Additionally, the networks could also be started within individual companies.
Since the launch of the concept in October 2010, six hundred people from nearly every country in the world have indicated that they are interested in becoming involved. National Generosity Networks are already emerging in a number of countries, including in the Netherlands and South Africa. It is hoped that a Generosity Network will be started in each country in the next few years to enable increased Christian giving.
A regional North American Generosity Network has been launched under the leadership of David Wills of the National Christian Foundation in Atlanta. In cooperation with regional Evangelical Alliances and other Christian networks, the RMWG is seeking to catalyze further regional Generosity Networks in Latin America, Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Francophone Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, South Asia, North Asia, Europe, Eurasia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
The RMWG is supporting the networks as a discussion forum, connecting link, resource base, and facilitation point.