Three Non-Negotiables for Raising Funds for the Church

When it comes to raising funds for your church, consider the following three actions to be non-negotiable.

1. Trust in Leadership

Integrity is doing what you said you’d do and operating true to your stated mission. When people sense that men and women at the top are solid leaders, one of the chief obstacles to financial support is overcome. When leaders have character and consistently operate with professionalism and kindness, the likelihood of garnering support goes up. As well, leadership can exude a humble confidence that gives calm because of a steady hand at the helm of the ship.

Additionally, when there is demonstrated effort and hard work, it communicates the health of the organization from the top down. It says, “we are not presuming anything about your support – we know we have to work hard and demonstrate results or you will give your support to another worthy cause and we don’t blame you.” Financial audits also ensure the squeaky clean professionalism that is a must as well. All of these things show that the leaders can be trusted.

2. Clear and Compelling Vision

There are a few questions that need to be answered by any organization with absolutely clarity and unity. This is the classic elevator pitch – the idea that it if you cannot articulate your vision in the time it takes to ride an elevator (30 seconds to 2 minutes), then it isn’t honed enough. And if the people that speak on your behalf aren’t saying something strikingly similar, then confusion will be the result:

Where are we headed?

What must be answered is the big idea – what is the goal, project or plan that has captured your attention and for which you are working so hard? What do you want? The listener needs to hear in your passion and see in your eyes that you are undeterred in your focus and know what you are aiming for.

Why is that worthy or important?

Out of all of the things in which someone could invest their time and money, why is your cause the one that they should support? Is it important because people will be helped or society will be impacted – will needs will be met? Are you addressing something for which you are uniquely qualified? 

How do we intend to get there?

In the vision, there needs to be a brief sense of how you intend to accomplish your goal. Otherwise, it sounds like you are dreamer without a plan. “We are taking on child hunger in Detroit” is not as powerful as “We are partnering with every elementary school in Detroit Public Schools to make sure that each child has breakfast before the school day starts”.   This doesn’t reveal intimate detail about the plan, but if you said this on an elevator ride, the other passengers would have a very good idea of what you are all about.

What will be the result?

            Help me understand how the future will look different if this vision is fulfilled.

Before a person is willing to support something financially, they want to know that you are committed to results. Can we measure the impact and how are we intending to do so? Will we hear a report on the success (or failure) of the attempt? Ideally, we can paint a picture that seems emotionally or spiritually satisfying when we cast vision. And in the best case scenario, the prospective funder will be able to align their personal desire for impact with what you are doing. So, give them a sense for what it will be like when it’s all said and done.

3. Sense that we are part of a Winning Team

This is an intangible “gut feeling” that people will get about a church. More than just winning as a generally positive vibe, it is about a sense that God is at work through this church in visible ways. People don’t want to re-arrange deck chairs on the titanic or align themselves with something that feels like its dying or losing.   It is more than just public relations. People tend to look for early indicators that a proposed project or ministry is on the right course and that the church has a proven track record for Kingdom impact. Positive emotion also comes from hearing the endorsement of others (who have credibility) who are supportive of the vision. The ministry track record of the church will be the primary driver of this hunch that is hard to describe.

The most important of these three is Trust in Leadership without a doubt. In an age of well-founded skepticism about leaders run amok, integrity at the top is the key.

With that, however, the other two items mixed into the recipe will make for certain success. (This all presumes that an organization has a sense for the best practices and tactics associated with raising funds). So, with solid strategy and approach and the three non-negotiable concepts mentioned, increased funding is on the way.

> Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about Generosity in your church.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg Gibbs

Greg Gibbs

Greg Gibbs was raised in the Philadelphia area but has set down roots in the suburbs of Detroit.  As the son of an IBM executive, his instincts for leadership were shaped early.  And, the commitment and involvement of his family in church leadership provided exposure to that environment as well.  He studied Organizational Communication as an undergrad and holds a master's degree in Theology. After a dozen years of leadership in churches both on the west coast and in Michigan, Greg turned his attention to consulting and has spent years traveling the country working with church leaders of all denominations, sizes, and approaches. Greg is both practitioner and consultant. He is the Director of Organizational Advancement for Kensington Church - his home church and one of the largest in the United States. Kensington is a multi-site church with eight campuses, and has helped fund and coach over 50 church plants around the country.  Greg’s tenure at Kensington includes the spear-heading of two $20M capital campaigns at Kensington, as well as developing the Leadership Development program. After 15 years of strategic consulting and having helped raise over $150M for various churches, Greg joined the Auxano team in 2016 as a Lead Navigator. Greg focuses his attention on counseling leaders regarding Clarity of Vision and Building a Generosity Culture in the church. He conducts the God Dreams Retreat, the Vision Frame Process, and other facilitated coaching as needed. Greg has been married to Andrea for 27 years and they have four children, two dogs, and like to roast their own coffee with beans they purchase at the Eastern Market in downtown Detroit.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Moving from Financial Deficit to Abundance

Somewhere I picked up the line, “Your vision will always outpace your resources.” Can you relate? Do you find yourself in the position where you always need more money for more ministry? For the majority of us the answer is a resounding YES! When it comes to money there always seems to be more month than money. Unfortunately, great opportunities come and go simply because we lack the resources to take advantage of them.

What if it doesn’t have to be this way! What if the issue isn’t a lack of available resources? What if the lack of resources is a leadership issue? For many of us I believe this is the case. Let’s be honest. Many of us lack the skill and competency to move from a deficit to an abundance of resources for kingdom impact. It isn’t that we are bad leaders. It just happens to be where we are at and the good news now is we can do something about it.

Where do we start? Why not determine that the one big thing for this next year is going to be moving our financial needle from deficit to abundance. Here are some thoughts and best practices on getting there.

Start with Vision Clarity

When I assess the causes I’m giving to, there is always a clear and compelling vision behind it. I have no question what problem my resources will help solve. One of the ministries I support is a fast growing church planting movement among the Iranians. One way I can support them is by providing New Testaments at the cost of $6.00 each. For every New Testament we put in the hand of an Iranian, there are five to six Iranians who come to Christ.

Often when I do vision clarity and generosity work with churches I tell them this story and ask them, “What’s your Iran?” General appeals for resources get a general response. Abundance begins when we give people a compelling reason to give within the local church. People want to be a part of something significant. They want to do more than turn on the lights. They want to solve a problem that creates a better world.

Budget on Last Year’s Income

It doesn’t stop with vision. If we are going to have an abundant harvest of resources to invest in the kingdom, we must look at how we operate. A common practice in setting the church budget is to take last year’s receipts and add a certain percentage to that number based on anticipated growth in attendance and giving. If last year’s income was $500,000 we may anticipate a 10% growth in giving, so we set our new budget at $550,000. This is not necessarily a best practice or even a good practice.

What if instead we budget on last year’s income or even went a step further and budgeted on less than last years budget? What if instead of budgeting on $550,000 or even $500,000 we budged on $450,000?

What if while we budgeted on $450,000, our giving grows to $550,000? Now we get to live in abundance. Instead of fighting for budget we have a surplus to invest in the kingdom, margin for the lean times, and/or a head start on the next big capital need.

Rethink Your Percentages

In addition to budgeting on last year’s numbers, we need to rethink how we spend our budgets. We have found a consistent model for budget planning that allocates 50% on staffing, 25% on facilities, and 25% on ministry and missions. Whenever our staffing cost goes up, it has to come from somewhere. If the cost of our facilities increases, then a church has to cutback on ministry, staffing, raise additional dollars, or they enter into a deficit.

Driving down your numbers can be another way of creating an abundance of financial resources. Some churches have found the best way to do this is by lowering their staffing cost. This doesn’t mean that they pay their staff less and reduce the level of their benefits. It simply means that they expect staff to equip volunteers to lead ministries.

These churches often operate with 35% to 40% of their budget going to staff. This is radically different than how I was taught to budget. We budgeted to grow by adding staff even when we couldn’t afford it. We would rationalize it by saying things like, “A good staff member always pays for himself or herself.” Maybe you can relate. To be completely honest, it seldom or almost never worked out for us. We usually ended up cutting something or someone we deemed less strategic. It was the constant proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Develop a Robust Leadership System

You can’t reduce your investment in staff without developing a robust leadership system. To do this we need volunteers that can lead. Paul put it this way, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV).

In our work with churches across the nation it’s common to find an abundance of volunteers, but a deficit when it comes to volunteers who are actually leading. Churches that are able to dial back on staffing have an intentional process in place to raise-up an abundant harvest of leaders who can serve in strategic places eliminating the need for paid staff in certain places.

Create a Generous Disciple Pathway

At the end of the day we will never experience abundance if we don’t develop generous disciples. Disciple making at its core is about worldview transformation. We need to disciple people to think about their resources differently. For abundance to take place, we need the mind of Christ. A generous disciple pathway will help disciples navigate toward this new mindset regardless of where they begin. Imagine an intentional pathway that helps occasional givers become regular givers, and regular givers to become tithers, and tithers to become extravagant givers.

If we did this alone it would have an incredible impact on our ability to impact the kingdom. At the same time let’s face the fact that creating generous disciples without the other practices may not lead to abundance. Abundance is the result of a discipline approach that includes all of the practices mentioned above.

Conclusion

Chances are your financial systems are perfectly designed to get the results you are currently getting. Making lasting changes aren’t a matter of doing business as usual. We often believe that change is the result of our wills. Unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know.

Lacking the skills or competency as a leader to create abundance isn’t a failure. Failing to reach out to those who can help you learn new skills or competencies can be. Don’t be a leader that says that you will figure it out and don’t. There’s too much at stake.

Start by using the Generosity Dream Tool to dream a new generosity dream that includes an abundant harvest of resources for kingdom impact. Don’t stop there. Reach out for help! Make creating abundance for kingdom impact your one big thing this year. I promise you that it will have an incredible impact now and in the future.


Want to learn more about moving from financial deficit to abundance? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Money Matters: Aligning Priorities Toward Eternity

How can we cultivate a “get to give” not a “got to give” culture of generosity?

It is inspiring to watch generosity flourish. Here are four simple principles regarding generosity:

  • God is a very generous God.
  • He created us in His image to be generous people.
  • When we are generous together the world is a better place.
  • Generosity is rewarding to both the giver and receiver.

Money can really bind us at times and create many life burdens. Generosity is the path of freedom, joy, and impact.

Yet, the typical church is full of people who see giving at best as a chore and most often as a necessary burden.

Make God’s priorities your priorities.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Generous Soul, by Marty Duren

Marty Duren conducts a thorough study examining how Christ followers relate to money and possessions in the larger Kingdom purpose.

Viewing each believer as a ‘missionary manager,’ The Generous Soul provides a solid biblical foundation for a life of financial generosity toward others based on the faithfulness of God. The book includes a set of 20 conversations starters making it suitable for individual or group study. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Success in becoming generous is 100% impossible without embracing the principle that God owns everything. We are stewards of a few small things that God owns. God owns our lives, our jobs, our church, our bodies, and all our physical possessions.

As managers of God’s possessions, our responsibility is to handle “our” stuff just as God would if He were on earth; this is the substance of Jesus’ parables.

The proper understanding of finances means that the priorities of God’s people related to money and possessions should be the same priorities that God has for the Kingdom. The use of money is not a separate reality from the gospel. On the contrary, our use of money and possessions is a direct reflection of our understanding of and love for the gospel and the Savior it reveals.

If the gospel, the Good News, is the story of God’s redemptive activity through Jesus Christ of all things lost in the Fall, then everything under our management is usable for the embodiment and expansion of the gospel. If we keep money and possessions under a separate section of our lives it is tantamount to lording overt that area ourselves rather than yielding lordship to Christ.

To maintain this control of our finances is like divorcing ourselves from God. We cannot, no matter how much we try, serve both God and mammon.

Marty Duren, The Generous Soul

A NEXT STEP

Sharing stories of people doing both good and great things inspires others. When it comes to giving, people can often feel shame and inadequacy. However, the Bible reveals great nuggets from people who lived attainable generous lives on an every day basis.

The Gospel of Luke captures these stories of generosity. Jesus introduces us to men and women, both mature and immature in their faith. He describes both real and fictional characters engaged in very normal activities; still they manage to live abundantly generous lives. Some of these characters are expected while others are rather unexpected.

Review the following givers Jesus knew, and make it your goal to practice what they lived.

Unsuspecting Giver– Luke 8:1-3 tells us about some of the early actions of the 12 disciples and several ladies. These early recruits were newbie’s in the faith, straight out of the marketplace. On top of that, the women are described as formerly having evil spirits, diseases, and demons. This is probably not the list that most would make heroes of or at least not just yet. Still these early adopters who are taking their first steps of faith are said to be supporting Jesus “out of their own means” and Jesus wants to make sure you know them. There are no high and lofty requirements to generosity, just give.

Called Giver– Luke 9:3 and 10:4 introduces us to an extreme giving request of Jesus. He called His early disciples, over 80 of them, to give up everything for the sake of a short-term mission trip. He sent them all out into the harvest, to share the good news and help people with their needs. Jesus called them to go, take nothing, not a dime or a change of clothes, not even a snack. We are called to support Jesus both out of our means and at times by giving up all that we have. Don’t worry, you won’t be the first or last person Jesus asks or sends out – just one of many who have learned to enjoy the adventure.

Compassionate Giver– Luke 10:35 introduces us to a fictional character, but the story is powerfully real. Today we call him The Good Samaritan, a man who allowed his day to be interrupted. He didn’t permit the inconvenience or expense to stop him. Whatever others may say about his investment in a troubled person did not matter. He gave compassionately and comprehensively. No trite pat on the back here. Rather he gave time, energy, and resources over an extended period for a man he may never see again. Giving people are both simple and alert. This story could look a little heroic, but it’s really just common courtesy. If you can’t be stopped in your tracks, you will never be able to give compassionately.

Investing Giver– Luke 10:15ff is another fictional character in a very real situation. It’s a successful businessman tempted by greed. His thriving business has put him in a quandary. His barns are too small, so he builds bigger barns to store his wealth and coast into the future. Only life changes and his money can’t solve his spiritual problem. Focusing on an earthly investment did not pay off as he anticipated. Jesus instructions are to live by faith and don’t trust in worldly wealth. Instead, sell your possessions and give to the poor. This will reap an unstoppable reward and grow a heart toward God. Seeing the future clearly helps us hold loosely to the things of today.

Fake Giver– Luke 18:22 shares about a man who lived on the dark side of generosity. We commonly call him the Rich Young Ruler. He appears to desire a relationship with Jesus; however, as the story unfolds we learn where his heart really is. He is so proud of his religious life, and then Jesus exposes that it is paper-thin. No hero here. This is only a stark reminder that the Rich Young Ruler can be a stealthy resident in the life of very religious people. He chooses to fail at generosity and he had all the resources to accomplish it. How sad.

Transformed Giver– Luke 19:8 provides us with an immediate and rather bold response of faith. It comes from Zacchaeus. He is a brand new follower of Jesus – less than one day. He is really wealthy just like the Investing Giver and the Fake Giver. Jesus doesn’t ask him to show his faith through generosity at all. This still this doesn’t stop Zacchaeus from thinking about it on his own. He confesses his financial sins having been a cheat and thief. Then he demonstrates a changed life by giving half of his possessions to the poor and paying back anyone he wronged four times what he owed them. Jesus said we would be known by things like love and fruit. Generosity is a great demonstration of both.

These are just a few of the giving stories in the Bible.

  • Pick one of the stories and share it with someone else this week.
  • Make a commitment to learn and live the lessons of one of them this month.
  • Create a family practice of learning to live generously around one this summer.

Taken from SUMS Remix 43-3, published June 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Five Giving Trends in Today’s Church

Much about church giving is changing. Worship attendance, conversions, and baptisms are often the most scrutinized metrics, but giving trends are close behind. Below are five macro trends that are affecting most churches in the United States.

Trend 1: Millennials will have less giving potential than their parents. Unless an unexpected economic shift occurs, Millennials will continue to be poorer than their parents. Numerous reasons are the cause. Tuition at colleges has tripled since 1980, even after adjusting for inflation. Household income has risen four times more quickly with the older generations than with Millennials. The federal government now spends almost $7 on programs for seniors for every $1 spent per capita on programs for children. The young poor are getting poorer. The chart below demonstrates that poverty was largely among the older generation prior to the 1970s. Now poverty is largely among the younger generation. The Millennials will make less—perhaps much less—than previous generations, which means their giving capacity as a whole will be less.

Trend 2: Giving will be more concentrated at the largest churches. The biggest 10% of churches hold about 50% of all monies given to congregations, and this concentration is intensifying as more and more people are going to larger churches. In the future, larger churches will continue to garner more of the total resources given to churches. Many will bemoan, if not outright condemn, this trend. I understand the sentiment. However, I believe any church—large or small—can be a resource giant.

Trend 3: Independent funding mechanisms will increase in popularity. The ubiquity of the Internet creates a climate in which anyone can be connected to everyone. Smart phones make this connectivity mobile. Churches no longer need a denomination to create a system of connectivity for funding ministries and missions. Are there reasons a church should stay with a denomination for funding missions or other ministries? Yes, but needing a system of connectivity is no longer one of them.

The problem is many leaders within denominations have continued to champion “the system” of funding even though churches don’t need it any more. At the same time, denominational loyalties are in decline, which exacerbates the declines in giving to denominational work. Additionally, operating costs are increasing in local congregations—it’s more expensive to run a church than it used to be. The result of these factors converging is the rise of independent funding mechanisms. I can more easily support my friend serving in Rwanda than I can my denomination, and I have more of a personal connection to her anyway. I like her Facebook page, not my denomination’s Facebook page (actually, my denomination doesn’t even have one!). I get personal emails from her, not leaders in my denomination.

Trend 4: Giving patterns in churches are becoming less consistent. People are still giving, just not asconsistently to churches. In fact, churches are getting less of total charitable giving. Overall, charitable giving is on the rise in the United States, but churches are receiving a smaller portion. In 1987, religious organizations received 53% of all charitable donations. In 2014, religious organizations received only 32% of all charitable giving, a 30-year dramatic downward slide.

Trend 5: Digital giving is the future. Mobile devices now account for over half of all Internet traffic. Digital giving is the future. And to some degree, it’s a discipleship issue. The spiritual discipline of giving will become completely digital in the future. Gifts of pure gold became coinage. Coinage became paper money. Paper money became checks. Checks are already going digital, especially with younger generation. Digital giving tools help people with the spiritual discipline of giving.

Many pastors feel a shift occurring in their churches. Their intuitions tell them the future of church giving will be different. Perhaps your instinct leads you to believe giving patterns are changing in your church. Most likely, your instincts are correct. These five macro trends, in particular, are affecting many churches and will continue to do so in the future.

This post is an excerpt from a research article I wrote for Church Answers. It’s part of a premier coaching ministry with Thom Rainer.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about giving in your church.


> Read more from Sam.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as president of Rainer Research. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. He also serves as senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church Cookeville, TN. Sam is the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is a theological review editor at CrossBooks and regular contributor to Church Executive magazine. He has written dozens of articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina and an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Discover the Genius of Generosity

How can you connect with high-capacity givers in your church who are not yet giving without appearing greedy?

It’s right there in the Acts 2 account of the early church. As disciples are made, giving is a natural overflow. Generosity development in your church is really people development. Leaders need to look at the matter of generosity through the eyes of the giver instead of the staff, finance committee, or other leadership group. When you look through giver’s eyes, you will begin to see how you are actually discipling them by helping them grow their generosity and develop their giving.

Solution – Discover the genius of generosity

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Genius of Generosity, by Chip Ingram

The “secrets” to being financially savvy are all around us. Go to your local bookstore or look online to read all the books written on how to manage your finances. Turn on the television to hear wise tips from financial experts. Surf the Internet to skim the “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Money Managers.”

The truth is most people want to be financially savvy. And some say to be smart, you must spend carefully. Others say to be wise, you must save regularly. But as the title of this book reads, to be genius, you must give generously.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

You can’t stop generosity. It is natural, normal, and wired into the existence of every human being. So why are we so nervous about it at church? Give these thoughts some significant time to brew and see if they do not inspire, affirm, and empower a new direction.

Generosity is meant to be joyful and fulfilling. It isn’t rooted in guilt, self- righteousness, or a martyr complex. It’s rooted in joy. And, in fact, it’s genius.

It’s the smartest way to live.

Generosity – a life overflowing with care and concern for others – is a brilliant way to live. It isn’t supposed to be a high, noble, sacrificial calling for a few super-spiritual people. Spending and saving carefully are wise, but giving generously is genius. Both practically and spiritually, it’s one of the smartest, most intellectually sound and emotionally satisfying decisions you will ever make for your life now and forever.

Here are four simple reasons why generosity is really the most intelligent way to live.

  1. Generosity is genius because it changes our lives. People who give generously feel great about it and find themselves blessed in ways they never expected. Great things happen in them, and great things happen to those around them. It’s the ultimate win-win situation.

  2. Generosity connects us with others. When people are generous and gracious, they exude love and happiness. Generous people create positive feelings in their relationships.

  3. Generosity helps us invest in what matters. Spiritually, generosity protects us from shortsighted, bad investments of our time, our talent, and our treasure and creates long-term wealth. In a sense, everything you do is an investment. You are always pouring your time, talent, and treasure into something. And whatever you’re pouring into, that’s where your heart is.

  4. Generosity frees our hearts. Money is the mirror of our heart before God. Notice where your money is going. That will tell you what you’re devoted to. And not only does the direction of your resources reflect where your heart is, it helps determine where your heart goes. Your heart will always follow your investments.

Chip Ingram, The Genius of Generosity

A NEXT STEP

Pastors desire a generous culture for their churches, but very few know what it really is and are willing to do the work to experience it. They tend to default toward doing nothing (except complaining) or executing yet another quick fix, short-term remedy.

True generosity is absolutely possible if you pursue these three ingredients at the same time and do not quit.

  1. Possess such a powerfully clear vision that you know what not to do as confidently as you know what to do.Vision is not a generic mantra on your wall, but a clear path plainly seen by all. It should naturally propel you forward, hold you accountable, and engage the masses.
  2. Align your strategy to be very simple, yet radically focused on this vision. This means your resources will be invested more than they are expended. Doing a few things very well in a repeatable process has seriously positive ramifications.
  3. Chase discipleship and not money.Generosity is the fruit of a growing Christ-follower. Money can come fast enough with a well-articulated appeal or when a powerful fear is exposed. However, it stops when the circumstance changes. Generosity never stops.

How well are you doing with these three ingredients? What is one step you can take today in one of these three areas?

Generosity is possible for your church, but you have to want it – really want it – enough to invest your entire staff. Enough to be willing to reframe your vision, realign your strategy, and develop a solid discipleship path beyond just getting more people in groups. There is so much freedom and possibility on the other side of generosity.

 


Congregations that practice effective generosity keep first things first: they focus some of their best creativity, leadership, and energies on advancing their vision.

Congregations with solid practices of generosity have a better chance of doing effective mission. The one advances the other.

When your church focuses on generosity, you are serving people. Understanding and developing generosity helps people develop their capacity and gift for giving. In order to help accomplish this, lead your congregation by discovering the genius of generosity.

Taken from SUMS Remix 33-1, published February 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Keys to Growing Personal Generosity

Is it really possible to just stop being poor? Not always.

There are places in this world where there are no opportunities to pursue, no jobs to work, and no resources to multiply. Generational poverty is sometimes caused by a lack of natural resources, corrupt governments, oppression, and injustice.

So this isn’t a post designed to shame people who have lacked the chance to climb. In fact, I need to be clear about something right up front:

Life is not about you.

If you wind up wealthy, healthy, and happy, that’s great. But why? Hint: It’s for others.

It’s so that you can grow from being a consumer to being a contributor in a variety of ways – giving, serving, employing people, paying taxes, supporting nonprofits, etc.

Let me also say that it’s sometimes the most honorable and purposeful thing you can do to bypass wealth and opportunity to choose a higher calling.

Take William Borden, for example. He entered Yale as heir to the Borden family fortune (think Borden milk and dairy). While at Yale, he surrendered his life to a missionary calling and began traveling the world to help, to serve, and to teach people in other parts of the world. At age 25, he contracted spinal meningitis and died.

Some called his death a premature event or even a “waste.” But William Borden chose to become poor in this life so that he could enjoy a kind of wealth most people will never know.

So, wealth is not a virtue. It’s never the goal. Financial wealth is not always God’s will and sometimes a financial safety net is a distraction from living a life of risk-taking faith.

Having established that wealth isn’t everything, let me get to the real point of this post.

Sometimes, we do dumb things that cause us to stay poor. For example…

10 Common Mistakes That Keep Us Poor

  1. Quitting jobs before we have a plan for what’s next.
  2. Not understanding where our income will be generated.
  3. Not tracking where our money is being spent.
  4. Failing to plan and be intentional with our spending.
  5. Using credit with little guarantee of being able to pay it back.
  6. Never saving anything for a rainy day.
  7. Forgetting to pay things on time and racking up late fees.
  8. Paying easily avoidable interest and penalties on debt.
  9. Assuming our circumstances (job, expenses, health, economy) will never change.
  10. Paying premium prices for everything we buy.

And the list could go on, of course.

Angie and I have learned a lot about personal finances – some of it the hard way – and we’re still learning daily. Somewhere along the way,

  • We committed to living within our means.
  • We stopped using credit for minor purchases.
  • We started to live on a budget.
  • We started taking debt seriously and paying it off.
  • We kept giving a tenth of our income away.
  • We began to prepare for the future.

How to live on a budget.When we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, it was a game changer. Ramsey is well-known for teaching some pretty simple truth in some pretty profound ways. Such as…

  • Snowballing debt to get rid of it faster.
  • What kind of insurance is really needed.
  • Talking about finances with your spouse.
  • How credit really works.
  • How to negotiate pricing.
  • Getting ready for retirement.

And more. If you’ve never gone through FPU, do it as soon as possible! Ramsey isn’t always right about everything, but you can’t possibly get any worse off by following his advice until you actually have financial peace. Then, you can do your own research and disagree with him.

A great place to start is his Total Money Makeover book (get it here).

Get a Grip on Your Financial Reality

Start a spreadsheet and put everything in it. Every account. Every balance. Every interest rate. Every bill and due date. Every income source. Put it all on one single page so that you can see a complete but panoramic view of where you are financially.

If you’ve lost track of where all of your debt is and what bills you’re paying, you’re already behind. Check your credit and monitor it regularly.

 

Set Some Reasonable Financial Goals

Assuming you can go all gangbusters and spend zero dollars for the next six months on food and fuel is not aggressive action. It’s just unrealistic. And being unrealistic leads to frustration and to quitting early.

At the same time, this should hurt. It should be uncomfortable. It requires sacrificing some of what you’ve enjoyed until now so that you can enjoy peace a little later.

Stop Borrowing Money for Small Purchases

Dave Ramsey would disagree with the last three words of that. But not all debt is created equal. Nonetheless, if you’re not currently paying all of your credit cards off every single month, stop using them. Completely. Cold turkey.

Once you’ve done some research, you’ll start to understand why making small purchases with a credit card and it’s revolving debt interest can ultimately mean paying $5 for a $1 candy bar. Multiply that by thousands.

Generate Some Extra Income

Cutting your expenses might be enough, but often, it’s not. Sometimes a second job fits into your picture and sometimes it doesn’t. At the very least, I would highly recommend turning your hobbies and interests into a means of making money online.

When you jump into it, bootstrap it. In other words, don’t spend thousands of dollars hoping to make millions. Spend as little as possible on your extra income idea so that it at least pays for itself until it starts returning even more income.

Have Some Hard, Honest Conversations

This is the toughest part of all. Why? Because it isn’t about the money. It’s about the heart. Money is an extremely emotional thing to talk about.

We feel shame over our financial mistakes. We feel anger when someone takes more of our money than we think they should. We feel sad when something goes wrong and we don’t know what to do next. Let’s face it, we get downright depressed about our money woes!

But when it comes to money, most of the people we interact with on a daily basis are also making the same mistakes. We’re all so quiet about it that we all stay trapped in the secrecy.

Talking to an advisor, getting direction from a mentor, and especially being honest with our spouse is all part of the healing and recovery process.

Do Some Thorough Research on Personal Finances

I’m not an expert. I’m nowhere close to being an expert. But I’ve learned a lot by reading, listening, and taking courses here and there. And we’re way better off than we used to be because of that newly acquired knowledge. So,

There’s nothing wrong at all with being poor. But chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the millions of people on the planet who makes mistakes that keep you unnecessarily poor.

My favorite thing about Dave Ramsey is the way he casts a vision for financial peace. He says to people who take his course, “we’re going to get out of debt so we can save more money so we can give a bunch of it away!”

Let’s do it.


Talk with an Auxano Navigator about developing a generosity culture at your church.


> Read more from Brandon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Breaking the Generosity Conversation Barriers

How do you connect with high-capacity givers in your church who are not yet giving without appearing greedy?

 

It’s right there in the Acts 2 account of the early church. As disciples are made, giving is a natural overflow. Generosity development in your church is really people development. Leaders need to look at the matter of generosity through the eyes of the giver instead of the staff, finance committee, or other leadership group. When you look through giver’s eyes, you will begin to see how you are actually discipling them by helping them grow their generosity and develop their giving.

Solution – Break down the barriers that prevent conversations about money

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Whose Offering Plate Is It? by J. Clif Christopher

In Whose Offering Plate Is It? author J. Clif Christopher argues for real change when it comes to understanding generosity in the church today. He believes that leaders must speak in a language the congregation understands and be prepared to defend the cause to which leaders are asking people to contribute.

Christopher believes that leaders must raise the bar of expectations and not make church “easier” than in days past. Effective communication in ways that today’s donors understand is a start. Accountability – so people will see how their money is being used – is the next step.

The offering plate of today may be an electronic draft, a website click, a kiosk set up outside the worship center, or an app on a phone. Any way you do it, though, it is still all to be done for the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

One of the most powerful tools a leader possesses is language. Yet, it is one of the most commonly overlooked assets in communicating generosity.

Just think for a moment how influential language is in your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Language directs, teaches, inspires, unifies, and instructs. When it comes to generosity language at church, it typically comes in a few different dialects. When pastors are uncomfortable with the topic there is silence and even light-heartedness. When there is a need it is usually communicated in terms of the budget, building, or crisis. However, you need to develop a generosity language of gratitude, vision and discipleship.

We can’t have two masters, money and God. It is one or the other. The job of every pastor is to help God come out on top and to do that he or she must work faithfully and tirelessly to remove money from that position.

Write Ten Thank You Notes Every Week – Start making it a weekly habit to thank ten people every week who genuinely deserve it. Thank people for faithfully teaching a class, taking kids on a mission trip, mowing the church lawn, and of course, giving generously.

Start Using Generosity Stories in Worship Every Week – Begin using stories just before the offering by individuals who can share how Christ or the church has changed or affected their lives.

Get Mission Focused – Push your church to define exactly what they understand the mission of your church is as stated by Scripture. 

Preach About Your Church’s Vision – Spend time in prayer and study on exactly what you feel God wants you to be doing to fulfill your mission. This sense of God’s call should become a sermon series where you seek to help your congregation understand the vision God has for your church.

J. Clif Christopher, Whose Offering Plate Is It?

A NEXT STEP

Language is a free and powerful tool. Don’t be caught sending the biblical generosity message via a fool.

Here are some ways you can begin to discover and introduce a healthy language related to generosity. Discuss these with your leadership team and begin to implement them.

  • Tell a personal story about a money challenge you have faced. The process of how you worked through it should be human and identifiable by all.
  • Provide an illustration from common culture about how people, companies, or organizations are living generous lives. It is easy to find stories today of unassuming people doing simple things to make a powerful impact. Remember, it is not about the size of the gift, but that it is relatable to life.
  • Develop a series of messages based on the following top ten myths of a generous church.
  1. Generous Churches are huge.

> False: They come in all sizes.

  1. Generous Churches are filled with rich people.

> False: They are filled with growing people.

  1. Generous Churches are in the Bible Belt.

> False: They are anywhere.

  1. Generous Churches are older and more mature.

> False: They are changed, focused, and passionate.

  1. Generous Churches are growing rapidly.

> False: They are consistently aligned.

  1. Generous Churches are only about numbers.

> False: They are about impact.

  1. Generous Churches have a charismatic leader.

> False: They are a led by a visionary leader.

  1. Generous Churches are in big cities.

> False: They are where a generous leader is.

  1. Generous Churches have a large staff and budget.

> False: They have a leadership pipeline and spend strategically.

  1. Generous Churches have small visions.

> False: They pray and live boldly.

 


Congregations that practice effective generosity keep first things first: they focus some of their best creativity, leadership, and energies on advancing their vision.

Congregations with solid practices of generosity have a better chance of doing effective mission. The one advances the other.

When your church focuses on generosity, you are serving people. Understanding and developing generosity helps people develop their capacity and gift for giving.

Taken from SUMS Remix 33-3, published February 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Is Up and to the Right, Always Right? Understanding Church Giving Increases

I had a conversation with a pastor last week who told me that the giving in his church was on the rise and he asked how he should interpret that.

That’s a sharp pastor.

Normally, we only do an analysis to understand what’s going on when the giving decreases. That’s necessary and can be helpful, but it’s mostly playing defense.

It’s better to know how to interpret giving when it’s increasing, so you can understand it in the moment and lead accordingly.

You might consider this semantics, asking, don’t we use the same factors to understand giving regardless if it’s increasing or decreasing? Yes, to some degree that’s true. But deliberate cultivation of generosity when it’s increasing is the wiser stewardship because it’s proactive rather than reactive.

In other words, it’s like attendance. When a leader says to me, “My overall church attendance is increasing rapidly, but I have no idea why,” he or she can’t learn from or leverage the momentum. They are so excited and grateful, they receive the attendance as a gift and think, “I don’t know why I’ve received this gift, but I’m sure happy about it.” That’s a great attitude, but not the best leadership.

More importantly, if you don’t know why it’s increasing, you are less likely to understand why it’s declining, (if or when it does), and therefore, it takes you longer to change the course of giving.

If you only know why your attendance is decreasing, you are always reacting and playing catch up to a problem, rather than seizing the power of momentum. It’s the same with the giving in your church.

So, here are the factors the pastor and I discussed to help interpret an increase in giving.

1) A positive response to the vision.

If your giving is up, take a look at what you have been doing to communicate the vision and how the congregation is responding. Ask yourself why it’s working. Learn from it, ask questions of key leaders to discover how they are responding as well. Continue to refine and bring clarity to the vision and how you communicate it. A real test of vision is whether or not the congregation takes action.

2) Maturing of faith.

We know that giving follows in tandem with the increasing spiritual maturity.

As believers learn to trust God and obey His word, giving is part of a natural expression of faith. It’s rare that a nominal believer consistently practices percentage giving. When giving is increasing, be keenly aware of the spiritual dynamics in play from the prayer life of the congregation to their hunger for the Word.

What practices seem to be increasing and why? When can you learn and leverage to help people continue to mature in their faith?

3) Confidence and trust in the senior pastor.

In general, people will not give to the church where they don’t have confidence in the leadership of the pastor. And they certainly don’t give if the pastor is not trusted.

The more extreme examples need no explanation, but this is often difficult to discern in the more moderate illustrations. For example, if the pastor is liked, but doesn’t seem to have a clear direction of where the church is headed, the confidence of the people is likely low.

Strong giving is not only an indicator of mature and obedient believers but also that they have confidence in the leadership of the pastor. If you are not sure, one of the best ways to know is to ask several trusted leaders and confidants in the church, such as board members, prayer partners, and one or two key staff.

4) Relationally connected with others in the church.

People always feel more connected when they share meaningful relationships with each other as part of the congregation.

There are two primary long-term points of connection. They are small groups and serving.

Small groups carry a strong sense of community and belonging as people open up, get to know each other, pray and support each other in their everyday lives.

Serving teams often carry an even stronger sense of community because of the bonding that takes place when people serve together on a team focused on a particular goal or mission.


There are obviously other factors at play when it comes to increased giving such as the possibility that a single large gift caused the offering to increase substantially that month.

We learn different things if there are a few additional significant contributions or if there many smaller ones. It’s important to understand why a large contribution is given, but it’s more important to understand trends.

I’m more like the pastors who are just grateful when God blesses. I have caught myself saying, ‘You know, I’m not sure why the giving is so strong, but I’m very grateful.” That’s obviously not a bad thing, but the leader in me needs to be grateful and have a good understanding of God’s blessing. That enables me to lead farther and extend God’s Kingdom to the greatest potential. That will help you too.


Learn more about generosity and giving patterns – talk with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Dan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Hard Decisions of Generosity

The desire for a more generous culture is an inspiring one. After all, we all need more resources released into ministry. The discipleship conversation around giving is filled with hope and expectations. Pastors light up, ministry teams engage, and downhill momentum is gained. Then it happens, right in the middle of a robust conversation, reality hits. At first there’s denial, followed by resistance, and then the room goes silent. Teams are dug in. I’ve seen it over and over again. Yet, developing a generous culture is within reach, but not without making some really hard decisions. What are the three hardest calls that can ultimately result in experiencing a generosity surplus?

#1 – REDUCE staff expense.

Having served on church staff for decades, I 100% support a well-compensated team. The job of a pastor is both rewarding and grueling. Being on call 24/7, giving up your holidays, living in a glass house, all while trying to advance the Kingdom is a noble life effort. However, most church budgets will invest somewhere around 50% of their expenses toward staff – this is a big chunk of your resources.

As a church grows both larger and older it tends to expand staff, often times in advance of the income. Over time, work that was done by volunteers has now become work for hire. Then, once a staff member is well entrenched relationally it becomes difficult to recreate your staff budget allotment. Churches need to make the hard choice to steadily reduce staff expenses from 50% to 45%, then toward 35% and some may even dare to achieve 25%.

I know you are ready to stop reading, but what would you give to have 10-20% surplus over the next few years?

REMEDY: Develop a new staff structure and empower more volunteer leadership. If you are going to reduce your staff expense, you will need to reorganize with a few multi-managers at the top of the organization. Then move from an activity or even ministry-based framework to a process and systems framework. This will enable you to hire a less expensive management level team to implement. You should also be able to hire more within the organization reducing the risk of outside hires that end up as misfires. Finally, you will need a solid leadership development pipeline and training process. Volunteers can and will do more. Most high capacity volunteers sit on the sideline unengaged.

#2 – FOCUS on the one thing that matters most.

Most pastors are uber confident in their vision crafting and casting prowess. It is really hard to get most pastors to evaluate their vision. Nevertheless, I find most churches exist on a vision that is some version of “we want to do church bigger and better next year than we did last year.” I so appreciate the drive for improvement and expansion. I also understand the fear of saying something that may feel less than the maximum best.

However, if vision is not clear, accountable, and actionable by every staff member, then it is not clear enough. Vision should clearly determine how a staff member goes about his/her work. It should be an obvious filter of what we do and do not do when the pastor is not around to help. It should direct all resources toward the main objective. Finally, it should be powerfully obvious to all when we succeed as a team.

When a vision is not crystal clear, pastors struggle with rogue staff and a disunited team. Team members struggle with clear direction and proper support. All levels of an organization are drained by sideways energy and less forward momentum than originally hoped.

REMEDY: Create one clear unifying goal each year and lead all ministries to rally around it. I know it can feel very limiting to have only one goal and terribly unspiritual to measure what God may do. Please hear me, when you create one strikingly clear goal like, “Provide people with a clear path of personal discipleship seeing a 50% increase in small groups participation,” you have not limited what God can do. However, you have made a choice to do one great thing together instead of five isolated, unconnected wins in different ministry silos. You have to believe me when I tell you that I have seen staff members release their budgets for the greater cause of a clear vision.

#3 – STREAMLINE ministries and supportive programming.

You know you are doing too much because you are tired. Your staff is tired. However, another Sunday is coming and expectations have been created. There was a day in your past when you “surrendered to the call of ministry,” only to now be living the life of a highly effective event manager. Unfortunately, I have seen it time and time again. Ministry success is measured by great events in amazing environments that cause large groups of people to leave feeling happy. I am all for high quality events, full rooms, and inspiring moments. No one wants their ministries to stink! However, successful activity is not the same as accomplishing the vision of kingdom expansion.

Remedy: Spend time measuring every ministry activity to determine its ROI (Return On Investment) toward your clearly articulated and measurable vision.

I would suggest you put your leadership in a room and do an objective analysis of the resources invested in all calendar events versus the return on the investment in terms of mission advancement. Measure the following using a simple green, yellow, red grading system, green = good to go, yellow=hey, wait a minute, and red=police flashing lights in your rear view mirror if you keep your foot on the gas.

  • Does this ministry activity align 100% with our clearly articulated and measurable vision?
  • Are we investing the proper amount of trained staff and volunteer time?
  • Are we investing the right amount of financial resources?
  • Does this ministry activity happen in the right room, at the right time, and at the right time of year?
  • Are we providing this ministry activity the proper marketing support?
  • Does this ministry activity provide a proper anchor for our strategy or bridge to the appropriate next step?
  • Does this ministry activity accomplish its desired and clearly stated goal?

These three conversations consistently receive the most resistance in my generosity coaching with pastors. If you finished this blog CONGRATS TO YOU! I know you probably wanted to challenge my thoughts many times. However, what would it be like to lead a church in 3-5 years which was led by a smaller more nimble staff, that were clearly unified and rallying together around one clear goal that produced obvious results over and over again. Not to mention you have created more margin spiritually, relationally, physically, mentally, and financially. Being a church with surplus goes way beyond preaching on money, leading a Financial Peace class, and capital fund raising. You must have the hard conversations. You can actually accomplish more, do less, and enjoy a surplus to reinvest in ministry and your team.


Are you facing some hard decisions related to generosity? Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about how to work through those decisions.


> Read more from Todd.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen has served for over 30 years in a variety of roles in the local church, doing everything from planting churches to lead pastor. While on staff he conducted two major capital campaigns helping to guide his local churches through sizable relocation projects. Those two churches alone raised over $35,000,000. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship and generosity campaign coach, as well as a conference leader and speaker. Todd is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, FL and Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Theresa, and their two kids, Riley and Breanna. You can contact Todd at todd@auxano.com or 205-223-7803.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The One-Kingdom Approach to Generosity

Is your congregation stuck seeing generosity as what they cannot give rather than why or how they give?

 

Generosity is a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with recognition of God as Creator of all things, and our position as steward of some things.

As stewards, we are in charge of the possessions God has given us – an authority that is real, but secondary to God’s ultimate ownership.

When we get these two ownerships mixed up, problems follow.

Solution #1: Strive for one-kingdom living

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Development 101: Building a Comprehensive Development Program on Biblical Values

In our 60 years of combined experience with faith-based non-profits we have seen high turnover rates in development staff, a general lack of a driving philosophy/theology of development in most ministries, confusion from boards over their proper role in development, and development staff who are frustrated and burned out by the demands of their work. The common denominator is a lack of a comprehensive, biblically based, fundamentally sound, development strategy.

We see at least four main reasons for this situation. First, far too few ministries have taken the time to think through and create a theology of development that serves as a rule and guide for all of their work in raising kingdom resources. The result is that the demands for money, rather than Scripture, dictate the techniques used for fundraising. Second, many organizations set unrealistic goals and expectations for their development team. When they are not reached, the ministry makes a change and tries again. When you add to this a lack of adequate training for new development officers, the turnover rate is understandable. Third, we see a serious lack of integration in development work. Ministries take a shotgun approach, trying all sorts of different ways to reach income goals, but far too seldom take a comprehensive, strategic approach that serves the giving partners not just the organization. Finally, we experience consistent misunderstanding and confusion over the board’s role in development work, compounded by an inability by the board to develop metrics for measuring effectiveness and success in raising funds based on kingdom principles.

This book is our attempt to address these concerns and provide development professionals with a tool that can help them build robust, God-honoring development programs. It is our prayer that this book will help development staff and CEO’s set realistic goals based on the time it takes to build a solid program and develop genuine, God-honoring relationships with giving partners. We hope this book will be a first step in training people who are new to the development field. We have included charts, templates and diagrams that we hope will aid in understanding how to build your plan and implement it successfully.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Generosity success is 100% impossible without embracing this valuable principle: God owns everything. We are steward of a small few things that God owns. God owns your life, your salvation, your uniqueness, your calling, your job, your body, your car, your bank account, your cash, and your television.

It is God’s responsibility to provide for you, your church and family, not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to release ownership and be an obedient steward.

We were created to be one-kingdom people. That is, God created and redeemed us to be children in His kingdom where He and He alone is Lord. 

As one-kingdom people, we know that everything belongs to God, and we respond by living as faithful stewards. The problem of sin is that it tempts us to build a second kingdom where we play the lord over the things we believe we own and control. It could be said that the entire cosmic battle between good and evil is played out in this arena of two-kingdom living. When we submit to the temptation to believe we are in control of our own kingdom, we treat money as something that we ultimately own. When we do this, we cannot be faithful, generous stewards.

Jesus summed it up with razor precision: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6: 24).

As we go about our development work, we must realize that every one of our giving partners struggles with this two-kingdom temptation. Our work as Christian development professionals is to be used by God to help our giving partners recommit themselves to being one-kingdom people. This may sound like a huge responsibility, and indeed it is. For this reason we believe strongly that development work is ministry. Let us say that again. Rather than seeing your development work as a means for raising the resources necessary for ministry to happen, we want you to reconsider that your development work is ministry. You have a wonderful opportunity to watch God use you in powerful ways in the lives of your giving partners. Once you make this commitment, it will affect everything you do in this field: your messaging, your planning, your budgeting, your writing, your strategy, your metrics, and your prayer life.

Does your organization operate from a two-kingdom or one-kingdom worldview?

John R. Frank and Scott Rodin, Development 101: Building a Comprehensive Development Program on Biblical Values

A NEXT STEP

Think of yourself as the manager of a trust. You have been given a key role and a great responsibility, so make the most of it. God Himself has trusted you with time, money, material things, and great opportunities. You objective is to maximize the investment of all that has been put into your hands. Take some time to examine the three gauges of how you are managing God’s investment: your calendar, your bank account and your spiritual gifts.

In light of the one-kingdom principle, how would you grade yourself in each area? What is one thing you can do in the next few weeks to better your One-Kingdom GPA one point?

In the final analysis, the hallmark of stewardship is administration not acquisition. Only by pursuing the goal of pleasing God do we find true pleasure and satisfaction for ourselves.

 

Taken from SUMS Remix 30-1, published December 2015.


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.