It’s 2008. Everyone's hurting financially during one of the worst recessions our country’s ever known. Community Christian Church in Chicago, IL was no exception. The staff at Community Christian faced potential layoffs so they held an emergency meeting to pray, fast, and figure out what they could do to prevent the worst from happening.
That’s when Celebration Generosity was born. One staff member raised his hand during the meeting and sparked the vision, “I think we should look outside ourselves and give an offering away.”
During the most difficult time in their church’s history, Community Christian Church rallied around an idea of extreme generosity and brought in $250,000 in one weekend to give away. Over the last 8 years, Community Christian dedicates the offering from the first weekend of each fiscal year to a ministry outside their own.
Doug Leddon, Business Operations Manager at the church, explained the heart behind Celebration Generosity:
"Everything we do and every dollar we invest at Community Christian Church is about helping people find their way back to God. Each year, we designate one weekend where we give our entire offering away in support of initiatives that help us accomplish the Jesus Mission. We call this weekend Celebration Generosity. In 2015, our attendees gave away $516k, and in the course of the last eight years, we’ve given away $4M dollars!"
On October 2nd, 2016, Community Christian Church hosted this annual tradition of generosity and once again, attendees rose to the occasion. Over 1,460 families participated, 206 of whom gave for the very first time. The grand total tipped the scales at $546,706—their biggest year yet!
How’s it work?
Participants are divided into 4 teams, each supporting a different ministry. These teams then rally together to give the most they can to their respective ministry. Throughout the years, the gifts offered during Celebration Generosity blessed several different ministries, ranging from local colleges and community outreach programs to church planting in the Philippines and Nicaragua.
Generosity inspires generosity
After launching Celebration Generosity, Doug and the rest of the staff at Community Christian soon discovered that once you unleash generosity, it can’t be stopped.
Celebration Generosity sparked a spirit of giving in the church that extends far beyond just that one weekend of giving. One attendee, who owns his own advertising agency, brought Celebration Generosity to his business. He divided the staff into teams, asked them to choose 3-4 charities, and then celebrated the winners at their annual Christmas party!
Want to run Celebration Generosity at your church?
Here are some tips from the team at Community Christian Church:
- Start talking about Celebration Generosity 6-8 weeks before the event, during services
- Encourage teams to work together and challenge them to beat their gifts from previous years
- Host 1 or 2 informational meetings before Celebration Generosity to hear from teams and take pre-commitments
- Send out regular stories and updates about how the teams are doing
- Get creative! Community Christian Church often serves dinner during their informational meeting, but last year they hosted a concert instead—increasing attendance 5x!
- Focus the Celebration Generosity service around the teams and ministries—videos are a great way to do this! In fact, 90% of Community Christian Church’s last Celebration Generosity service consisted of videos.
The response from Celebration Generosity is incredible. Every year, the event inspires 200-250 people to give for the very first time while others show their generosity through large gifts of $10,000 and up. Many attendees even say Celebration Generosity is a big part of their own personal giving stories.
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