Your People Won’t Begin Giving While They Are Drowning

by | January 16, 2018

Around 50% of households in the church don’t make a financial contribution. The number one most commonly asked question in church stewardship and generosity conversations is, how do we help non-givers to begin giving?

How do we get non-givers to begin giving?

The magical, buy-it-now-for-$19.99 solution does not exist. Stop wasting your time and energy on those gimmicks. There are, however, some important longer-term strategies that can actually change the habits of current non-givers.

But, in order for you to reach them, you must know something about your potential givers.

Based on their study of more than 25,000 households nationwide, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) annual report for 2016 said:

  • 60% of households spend more than or all of their income every year
  • 46% of households have enough savings to cover just three months of their normal expenses
  • 35% of households could come up with $2000 to fully cover an unexpected expense next month
  • 32% of households pay only the minimum on their credit card debts every month

These bleak statistics are the most conservative and the least sobering available. And that’s not all.

  • 78% of full-time workers say they live paycheck to paycheck
  • 56% were in debt over their heads.
  • 10% of people making more than 100K per year said they could not make ends meet
  • 59% of those higher-end earners said their personal finances were in the red.

(Stats from article by Jessica Dickler (CNBC, August 24, 2017), based on a survey by Career Builder.)

 

Is it any wonder why only 50% of our church-going households give to the church?

No number of passionate pleas, cool gimmicks, or amazing sermons will change the overwhelming financial disaster facing these families and cause them to begin giving.

Nothing will change their situations—or their giving dispositions—apart from serious pastoral outreach, care, and stewardship teaching.
Here’s how to get started.

 

1. Organize and passionately promote financial management groups in your congregation.

Consider a church-wide focus and training on managing finances. There is a variety of good curriculum and training available for such ministries, including Financial Peace University and Crown Financial Ministries. What could be more important than helping people gain control of their lives again? Everyone in your congregation can benefit from these principles, and many of your families are desperate for those life skills.

To help financially stressed families begin giving, you are going to have to find ways to change their lives. Teaching sound financial management principles will not only free your non-givers from the burden of substantial debt, but also allow them to grow in generosity.

 

2. Find ways to reconnect and reassimilate your offline households.

In every church, there is some significant percentage of families who are offline. Maybe they drifted out of range. Perhaps they never actually established any meaningful connections in the church. Their lack of giving mirrors the weakness of their connection to the church. A great stewardship idea is unlikely to be what re-boots them. Focus, instead, on reconnecting people more deeply than occasional worship attendance. Ask yourself:

  • Does your church track and evaluate attendance in connecting activities beyond worship?
  • Do you have goals (and strategies to achieve those goals) for participation in education, small groups, service, etc.?
  • Is a clear part of the mission of those groups to grow, divide, and multiply?
  • Do you regularly (and often) create new groups and opportunities specifically for new and less connected people, or do you simply wait for the few and the brave to break their way into already established groups?
  • Do you actively and intentionally connect your newest people in several places, monitoring the bandwidth they are developing before the habits of drift and disconnect can set in?
  • You will not grow stewardship if you are not continually and effectively growing your people.

Perhaps we have been fretting over stewardship strategies rather than focusing time, effort, and resources on addressing the foundational needs of these families. It’s time to help your people eliminate their financial stress and establish real connections to an active life of faith.

Do you hope your people will begin giving? Giving follows meaningful connection.

 

Horizons welcomes Mick Tune as a guest contributor. Mick is a Partner with Culture of Ready, a partner with Horizons in the generosity movement. He pastored for nearly twenty years, and has worked as a consultant with a wide variety of churches across the country for the last eighteen years. Mick is also an avid backpacker, hiker, fossil hunter, and an author. Reach out to Mick at mtune@horizons.net or 214.763.3846.

1 Comment

  1. Great article, Mick! I believe that you need to begin with point #2 above: engagement is the first step towards bringing families back into active communion and participation in the church. And that engagement may be through financial seminars, but I would suggest that any interest at all that could re-engage people is a good step forward. Once they begin to feel engaged, they will be more likely to find the support and encouragement to change their spending, saving and giving habits. Just my two cents. . .

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Common Mistakes

Kristine: What are some common mistakes churches make when considering the size of their church capital campaign projects?

 Clif: Often churches fail to maximize their giving potential. For example, a pastor recently told me about the growth and enthusiasm expressed in his church regarding a $1,000,000 building project. The church’s budget was $750,000. Given the excitement surrounding the project, it seemed to me the church could likely raise more. I suggested the church look at other needs and consider adding them to the project and have our team assess the congregation’s overall support. Assuming the support is there, this church has the ability to conduct a more ambitious campaign and raise more money for the kingdom.

 

Timing of a Capital Campaign

Kristine: When is the best time to conduct a church capital campaign?

 Clif: The short answer is the best time to conduct a church capital campaign is when the vision is clear and the congregation is rallied behind the vision. However, some churches are too eager to break ground and end up eliminating a lot of the giving momentum. If you break ground before the campaign, you take away people’s ability to participate in helping your dream become reality. Breaking ground before the campaign will result in getting  a building sooner, but you will have far less resources to pay for it. Also, it will be three years before you can conduct another campaign—and that will likely be for debt. Be patient and wait to break ground when you are ready to celebrate the conclusion of a successful capital campaign.

 

Estate Gifts

Kristine: Should capital projects be paid for using estate gifts?

 Clif: Generally, this is not a good idea. Using legacy gifts for capital projects removes the responsibility of the church to help people mature in Christ through more generous giving. Estate gifts should be used to strengthen an endowment fund that enlarges the ministry and mission the church is called to do. It should never replace what present members are capable of and called to do. Have a campaign for the project you feel God is calling you to do, and then use the proceeds from the estate gift to move the church beyond that building and into life changing ministry.

 

Staff Positions and Missions Work

Kristine: Should churches consider adding staff positions or missions work to their campaign funding needs?

 Clif: The problem is you are hoping to leverage enthusiasm for a building project to get money for staffing and missions. These expenses should be funded through the annual budget rather than included in a church capital campaign. Lumping capital needs in with operating expenditures is most often a bad idea. People may resent having a portion of their donations designated to expenses other than capital, and they may choose to withhold their giving. Also, funding a staff position through a three-year capital campaign creates a significant problem after the giving period is over. How will this staff position be funded in year four? If you need to fund a staff position or support a mission endeavor, include these expenses in your annual budget and invite people to support it.

 

Leadership Support

Kristine: How important is it for the pastor and church leadership to express their support of the church capital campaign?

 Clif: Well how important is leadership in any arena? It is critical! If the boss showed up late for work and only showed interest in coffee breaks, would the employees exceed his passion? If a coach was not that committed to practice and winning, would the players give their all? Church members are very in tune with what leaders are serious about. They listen to hear what their pastor feels is at the core of Christian life. Specifically, they listen to hear whether church leaders just want money to pay bills or if they truly believe that generosity is vital to discipleship and living a fulfilled life. It is very important every pastor share their plans for giving every year and why they are making that choice. Members concerned about being a disciple will follow.

 

High Capacity Donors

Kristine: In God vs. Money, you suggest that pastors should build relationships with their high capacity donors. Why is this important?

 Clif: As church leaders, we must stop seeing and relating to persons blessed with wealth as different from others blessed with unique talent and abilities that can be used for Kingdom work. If we knew a person with exceptional musical talent, we would be derelict if we did not spend time with them exploring how that talent might be used. Same goes for educational ability or leadership ability. One key job of a pastor is to help persons use the gifts God has given them for God’s work. This is no less true for those few who have been blessed with wealth. They need and deserve our time to assist them in fulfilling God’s calling on their life. This simply does not happen by speaking in generalities from a pulpit. It happens through relationship and personal attention.

I clearly remember the multi-millionaire who shared how grateful he was for the extensive conversations a college president had with him that helped him determine how to use his vast amounts of money following the sale of his business. When I asked this active church member if any pastor had ever sat down with him and had a stewardship conversation, he said, “No, Clif, you know that preachers do not like to talk about money!”

 

Clif’s books include Not Your Parents’ Offering PlateRich Church Poor Church, and several others. His new book, God vs. Money, is now available on Kindle and will soon be released in hardcopy by Abingdon Press.

God vs. Money

On August 21, 2018, my new book, God vs. Money, will be released. I wrote this book because I am firmly convinced our society, including the church, is in the midst of a war between the will of God and the lure of money. I am also convinced that money is winning the majority of battles because the opposition, the church, has ceased to put up a fight. God vs. Money is a call to arms. I implore you, as church leaders, to engage in this battle because, I believe, our lives depend on it.

Because God vs. Money is likely the last book I will write, I put every ounce of energy I had into each and every page. In doing so, I hope to get the attention of Christian leaders who must make attacking this foe a priority each and every day. My friends, if you care about the Kingdom and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only true salvation for the world, get this book. Going to war is never easy, but this fight is one we have to take on and must win!

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction:

God and Money both made promises. God has kept all of His and money has kept none. But money has better advertising and we keep falling for it. We live in a society where God vs. Money is a daily battle. It is a war and right now we are not winning.

 

In this book, I lay out a plan where those of us in church leadership can educate and inspire people who are capable of winning the war. These are the tools you are going to need to develop people who know how to go up against the lure of money and come out victors on the other side. I hope God vs. Money becomes a manual for pastors and church leaders to train and grow congregations of generous people who resist the lure of money and, instead, seek God’s will for their lives.

God vs. Money was not written to help you get more money.

It is intended to help you develop true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, who understand they have been given infinitely more than they could ever give. In this book, I contend that a generous life is glorious and leads to everlasting life, while a life being controlled by stuff is a dead end that destroys us and the world around us. This needs to be a war we want to fight. Not just one we have to fight.

Let’s prepare for battle.

 

 

Here is what church leaders are saying about God vs. Money:

Mike Slaughter, Founder and Chief Strategist of Passionate Churches, LLC and Pastor Emeritus Ginghamsburg Church says…

Clif Christopher has been my main go-to coach in applying practical biblical strategies for stewardship in the local church. This is an excellent read for church leaders who find themselves in church cultures adverse to using the “Tithe” word. A great reminder that we as followers of Jesus are the means to resource God’s mission in the world with practical tools to help us apply.

Talbot Davis is pastor of Good Shepherd UMC in Charlotte, NC, and author of Head Scratchers and Crash Test Dummies says…

Clif Christopher has written a Stewardship Tour De Force in God vs. Money.  I found the book both sobering and inspiring – sobering in its analysis of our culture’s obsession with money and yet inspiring in its description of the spiritual power of generosity.  Christopher does not flinch in his directives for pastors and church leaders – and I for one am glad for his boldness.  Highly recommended.

 

 

 

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