Your People Won’t Begin Giving While They Are Drowning

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... read more

Beware of the Goat! And Delight in the Savior!

Several years ago, my wife and I took our three-year-old granddaughter to a recreated Bethlehem walk at a local church. We walked through displays of artisans and families recreating life in Bethlehem. We stopped at an animal petting pen where my granddaughter... read more

How to Inspire a Revolution and Join the Generosity Movement

What if you could inspire a revolution in how your church thinks about money? What if people were to join you in a generosity movement? It all begins here: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people are created in the image of a loving, giving, and... read more

Gratitude is the Key to Your Church Giving

At this time of year, most churches are wrapping up a beleaguered annual stewardship campaign, trying to squeak out the last few pledges in hopes of meeting the budget. Church leaders are eager to move on to the festive Christmas season and leave the difficult money... read more

5 Things You Need to Ask Your Generosity Team To Do

You’ve begun the generosity revolution and are doing the generosity dance! Before you invite people to join the revolution, you need to know exactly what you are asking them to do. What will be the generosity team tasks? Remember what your generosity revolution is all... read more

Passing on the Gospel–What Will Your Money Legacy Be?

Legacy is the lifeblood of our faith. We have learned from our predecessors the importance of carrying the message of our faith forward to the next generation.   But what is your legacy around faith and money? Psalm (78: 3-4) says: These are things we learned from our... read more

Recruit a Generosity Team: The Big Picture

You’ve taken a leap of faith and made the decision to be a revolutionary leader in generosity … not just a lone nut. Now it’s time to recruit a generosity team for your church. Who is going to help you lead your congregation? You have prayerfully looked at the... read more

Your Church Isn’t Poor, You Just Need to Align Resources

If your church is wrestling to balance funding with your current needs for ministry, be sure you assess the full range of resources in your portfolio. Many churches that think they are poor are actually undiagnosed church hoarders. The key to overcoming this problem... read more

If You Want To Be a Revolutionary, Recruit the Right Generosity Team

So, you want to lead a revolution. What does it require? If you don’t want to just be a lone nut, you’ve got to recruit the right generosity team. Remember the video from last week’s post, the shirtless dancing man and the words of Derek Siver? If not,... read more

4 Proven Methods to Fulfill a High Percentage of Your Pledges

“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!” Of all the crazy pearls of wisdom Yogi Berra ever said, this might be my favorite. Comments like this from the former New York Yankee baseball player and manager were so famous in their day, they became known as Yogisms.... read more

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What You Need to Know About Debt Campaigns

Recently, I was reading through a magazine for church leaders when a quote in one of the articles caught my attention. The quote was, “Donors don’t give to pay down debt.” Having been personally connected to dozens of debt campaigns that have raised in excess of $170 million, I have found that people will give generously and sacrificially to address the issues and restrictions caused by debt. Moreover, a debt campaign can be highly energizing and catalytic in a church’s journey to realize their vision and mission of reaching people for Christ. However, campaigns focused primarily on debt require a very different approach and strategic messaging.

Campaigns to raise money for debt must connect to and be driven by the church’s overall vision and mission.

Simply asking people to give because the church has debt rarely inspires sacrificial giving. Remember – not one single member of your church is losing sleep because the church is in debt–except maybe the pastor or business administrator. The reason people are not concerned about the church’s financial obligations has much to do with the fact that many church members are struggling with their own debt issues. Therefore, the message surrounding a church debt campaign has to communicate how reducing debt will allow your church to reach more people, make more disciples, and grow your ministry.

If your church has debt, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Has the debt had a negative impact in any way on the church’s ability to meet current operational needs?
  2. Has the church been forced to cut back or restrict ministry focused resources in order to service the loan obligation?
  3. Could the money currently being spent to service a debt obligation be re-appropriated to new ministries that could inspire and encourage your church and possibly attract new families?
  4. Have there been negative impacts on the church’s ability or willingness to start new and innovative ministries?
  5. Is there a mixed message being sent with respect to the manner in which the church is responding to debt and how the membership is challenged to view and manage personal financial obligations?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then moving forward with a debt campaign is imperative.

Communication before, during, and after a campaign should be open and transparent. The congregation needs to understand how the debt was incurred, how much exists, and the plans for paying it off.

Answer the following questions about debt clearly and concisely.

  1. Why does the church have debt?

Surprisingly, many of your church members do not know or may not remember how the debt came about. If the loan obligation is a result of building construction, members may assume if the building is complete it is also paid in full. If the church conducted a capital campaign but did not raise all of the needed funds, some people mistakenly believe the first campaign actually took care of all of the financial needs. Unfortunately, some people will believe the debt is the result of poor decision-making. Do not assume people accurately recall the events leading up to taking on the debt. Be proactive and transparent when communicating the cause or source of the debt. A clear and accurate timeline of events will provide a strong foundation for your campaign message.

  1. How much does the church owe?

Once the first question has been addressed, make sure there is no ambiguity regarding the full extent of the debt. As with all communication to the church, assume nothing and state facts in several different ways so people can fully grasp what you are saying.

  1. How much is being spent to service the debt?

People are often surprised by how much of the operational budget is needed to service a debt. Help your people see the debt total from both a monthly and yearly perspective. Show the debt service using a dollar amount as well as a percentage of total expenditures. For guidelines on the impact of debt service, go here.

  1. How much interest will be paid over the life of the loan?

The total lifetime interest of a loan creates the “ah-ha” moment for many where the reality of good stewardship comes into play. People are motivated when they can see how much could be saved in the long term by addressing the obligation more intentionally. People will become inspired when they realize how the interest saved could be used for ministry.

  1. How long would it take to retire the current debt if you did nothing?

Help your congregation understand the length and long-term consequences of the loan. Was the loan amortized over 10, 15, or 20 years? Could the reality be, at the current pace of repayment, your children and possibly your grandchildren will still be paying on the debt? Saving years, as well as saving interest over the life of the loan, is just good stewardship.

  1. How will the money currently being spent on debt service be re-appropriated for ministry?

Members need to understand the underlying reasons behind raising funds to eliminate the financial obligation. The goal is not just to eliminate the debt but rather to achieve specific ministry objectives. People are inspired to give more willingly and sacrificially when they understand the objective. Reducing or eliminating loan obligations is to free up resources so the church can engage in new and expanded ministries such as:

  • Starting a new ministry to reach more people
  • Creating a new staff position to address a ministry opportunity
  • Expand an existing ministry to meet the needs of your community

As mentioned earlier, people are not inspired to give so their church can be debt-free. People are inspired by the larger goal of growing ministry.

Include these elements in a campaign to reduce or eliminate debt:

  1. Use the church as an example.

Encouraging families and individuals to be financially free and teaching them how to live with margin is essential for the church. Provide personal financial management classes and encourage your members to free themselves of financial burden. A debt campaign sends the message that the church operates by the same teaching. Find more insights here.

  1. Include something tangible.

Debt campaigns focus on something that happened in the past. Many churches balance that “looking to the past” perspective by including something future-oriented and tangible. This could be a specific mission project or a low-cost facility enhancement. A word of caution here: without question, the primary focus in a debt campaign is eliminating or reducing the debt. Any “add-ons” should not interfere or reduce the potential for maximum results or disguise the main objective.

Keep in mind that the church does not have a choice about whether or not to pay its debt. It must be paid.

Your congregation knows it bears the burden of paying that debt. The only choice the church has is how to pay that debt. What is the best stewardship practice to deal with indebtedness? Eliminating or reducing debt is about changing the future of the church. It is about repositioning the church’s financial picture so the church can invest financial resources in ministry rather than in debt service. It is about effectively freeing the church to make future funding decisions. Changing the debt position in your church does not just impact ministry for two or three years; it repositions the church financially to reinvest in ministry for the next 10, 20, or 30 years. Reducing or eliminating debt is simply good stewardship, and a wise step that will deepen your congregation’s trust in your leadership.

An Enlightening Perspective from Your Investors

I am an Investor.

Think of me as a potential venture capitalist for your organization, or as a mission capitalist for your vision. I am not looking to make money back, but I am looking for a real return on my investment.

What direction are we going in? How will we know when we get there? The architect’s picture is nice, but I need an actionable plan, actual milestones, a map. If I am going to get onboard, then I want us to actually get somewhere. As an investor, I need to know where we are headed and how we plan to get there.

An annual report showing successes for last year and your goals for this upcoming year would help me to understand you. What did we learn from where we succeeded, and what did we learn from where we missed? What will we do differently as a result?

Do you have a multi-year plan? Do you have a plan at all? If you want me to buy into our vision, you need to involve me in vision casting. Help me understand our mission-critical long- and short-term goals. What is our end game?

If you have no tangible, measurable goals for your ministries, then how do you make decisions? How do you (or I) know what has been accomplished? Where will you invest resources? How do you know what to build on, what to re-evaluate, what to re-strategize, and what to let go of?

Do you ever tell me what you are really excited about? Do you ever ask me about my passions and what I want to invest in? Show me your heart, then we can have a deeper conversation about my heart.

I love my church and all, but you are not the only Godly gig around.

I also have a responsibility (a calling, if you will), to invest wisely and maximize the return on the investment. What is going to happen … what is going to change … what should I expect to see if I really invest in you? I need to believe you can manage this investment and follow through.

Let’s talk. I don’t mean the sermons – they are great and I believe that stuff too – but let’s really talk… about what this vision is going to take, how we can get there, and how I can make a difference. I might even have a suggestion or two.

You want me to show you the money? OK… but you are going to have to show me some things too. I won’t be all in until you invite me all the way in. Remember, I am an investor in your vision. Help me see how my investment is making a difference.

By the way, I am not the one afraid of talking about investing. I am a grown-up, and I can handle a challenge. Let’s have a real conversation sometime.

 

Horizons welcomes Mick Tune as a guest contributor. Mick is a partner with Doug Turner and Bill McMillan at Culture of Ready, a partner with Horizons in the generosity movement. Reach out to Mick at mtune@horizons.net.

 

 

 

The Importance of Believing in the Great Commission

Stories about outrageous and extravagant generosity inspire me. Just a few weeks ago, an older woman told me how excited and privileged she felt about giving a generous gift to her church’s capital campaign. Vera went on to say, “The truth is Scott, I probably won’t live to see the results. I’m not going to be around much longer.” For Vera, the importance of her gift was not in its impact during her lifetime, but rather the impact it would have on the church in the future. The gift Vera gave would empower her church to act on The Great Commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

She was giving an outrageous, extravagantly generous gift for one reason and one reason only—so her church could reach people for years to come with the good news of God’s love and grace. Imagine what our churches would look like if they were filled with people like Vera who believed so thoroughly in the mission of the church—given to us in the Great Commission.

51% of churchgoers have never heard of the Great Commission.

 

A recent poll by Barna Research asked churchgoers, “Have you heard of the Great Commission?” Here are the results:

 

It may be surprising to see that 51% answered, “No.”  It is hard to understand why the majority is unfamiliar with the core mission of the church. However, the research points to a potentially more significant and troubling question–Do churchgoers believe their church makes a lasting and eternal difference in peoples’ lives?  If we truly believe the church and its teachings make a difference, then we are inspired to share our faith and the Great Commission has meaning.

If we don’t believe the Church matters, then the

Great Commission makes no difference.

I met with a church group that was considering a building project. The church told me they were packed with no room for growth. Space was so tight, they decided they couldn’t advertise or invite people to church. The group had called me there to help them decide whether or not they should “do something” about their overcrowded space.  I asked the group, “What would you think about a person who knew the cure for cancer and decided to keep it to himself?” With great indignation, they replied, “That would be criminal!”

 

Then I asked them, “Do you or do you not have the cure for a hurting and broken world? If you do, how can you keep it to yourselves?”

 

Outrageous and extravagant generosity occurs when we truly believe we have the antidote for the diseases that afflict our world. The Great Commission matters when people believe in the importance of sharing the good news of God’s love and grace with the world.

 

So what do we do?

  • Continually and consistently tell stories of how your church’s ministries are making a difference. In every church communication, including your bulletin, newsletter, website, and Facebook page, tell stories of how people’s lives are being changed by your ministry. And if you can’t come up with life-changing stories, it’s time to take a hard look at your ministries and evaluate the quality of your response to the Great Commission.

 

  • Consider a Bible study or sermon series on the book of Acts. Explore the birth and explosive growth of the early church as they lived the Great Commission.   One small church in West Virginia experienced an amazing revival when they spent six months reading and studying the book of Acts. By the end of the study they passionately believed that although they were small, their community desperately needed what they had to offer. And guess what … giving exploded.

 

 

Would you like to experience outrageous extravagant giving in your church? Rather than talking about spreadsheets, budgets and bills, focus on how your church is responding to the Great Commission. How is your church reaching people to share the Good News? How do your ministries demonstrate your mission of sharing Christ with the world? Be willing to ask, “Do we really believe we have the answer to a world that is broken, hurting and afraid?” If the answer is yes, tell your story and get ready for outrageous, extravagant giving! If the answer is no, start looking for the for sale sign.

 

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