The purpose of Willard and Sheppard’s book Contagious Generosity is not to help churches raise funds, but to help churches create a culture of generosity that raises up generous stewards. Generosity for them is “… a lifestyle in which we share all that we have, are, and every will become as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace.” The authors insist that it is what they want for you, not from you.
Willard and Sheppard claim that money is perhaps the most measurable aspect of our faith. Examining an individual’s spending and giving patterns are an indicator of his faith commitment. Similarly examining a church’s spending outside of itself gives an indication of the faith maturity of a church as a whole. Because individuals and churches can easily fall back into old selfish habits, a culture of generosity must be continually cultivated.
The authors list six actions that leaders can take to develop a culture of generosity in a church:
- Build trust
- Cast (and recast) vision
- Shape culture
- Demonstrate impact
- Enhance relationships
- Highlight good stewardship
Contagious Generosity has three parts: Church Development, Leadership Development, and Impact. At the end of every chapter is a summarized list of key ideas and a list of discussion questions. I recommend the book to church leaders who know their church is not generous and would like vision and tools for creating a culture of generosity.