Last fall, my husband got two deer. A local butcher processed them but, despite our request, turned almost all of them into ground venison. Urgh!
I shared my frustration with a neighbor. She promptly offered some of their venison stew meat. Because of chronic wasting disease (CWD), we have all our deer tested by the DNR, but my neighbor didn’t. I politely declined the offer.
A few weeks later, we had our neighbors over for dinner (venison and kale cannelloni). They came with a big basket of 20 lbs. of venison stew meat. My neighbor Steve had gotten one final deer in late-season hunting. He presented it, along with the CWD testing tag, so that I could satisfy myself with the meat’s safety.
My neighbor saw our need and helped us in the way we wanted to be supported (with tested meat). I remember this kindness as my venison cassoulet cooks bubbles slowly to perfection.
Generosity never tasted so good.
What stories might you tell of the taste of generosity? Or the feel of it? The smell?
Color? Tell stories about generosity helps our congregations understand it as a spiritual practice. Consider using these prompts to spark conversation.
At the beginning of a meeting (and not just for the finance committee), invite people to share a story of a recent gift they have given or received. Why did it matter to them to give or receive this gift?
In place of the offertory and passing plates in worship (have the plates available at the entrances), invite people to read in unison this definition of generosity by Christian Smith and then share with someone next to them what words or phrases catch their attention.
Afterward, offer a prayer of dedication for how generosity touches people’s lives and then sing the doxology.
“Generosity is the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly. It is a learned character trait that involves attitude and action entailing both the inclination and actual practice of giving liberally. It is not a haphazard behavior but a basic orientation to life. What generosity gives can vary: money, possessions, time, attention, aid, encouragement, and more but it always intends to enhance the true wellbeing of the receiver. Like all virtues, generosity is in people’s genuine enlightened self-interest to learn and practice.” (Christian Smith, The Generosity Project, Notre Dame University).
Finally, and again using Christian Smith’s definition, consider planning a series of testimonials or sermons about the varieties of gifts one can give: a testimony about when a gift of attention shaped someone’s life or a testimony about when encouragement made a difference, a sermon about the gift of time, etc.
This Spring, find ways to tell the story of generosity so that people can almost taste how sweet and pleasant it is.
Yours in Faith,
Rev. Andrew Warner, CFRE
Generosity Outreach Officer
OPTIC – Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity, & Communication
United Church of Christ
PS: Click on the link below to see my collection of game recipes (and send me your favorites to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Generous Thoughts is a collaborative effort of UCC stewardship, generosity, fundraising, and development professionals to provide our conferences and congregations with information to aid them in their fundraising efforts. The SNEUCC is represented ...