How to Turn Your Annual Campaign into a Disciple-Making Strategy

by | March 2, 2020

An Annual Campaign

During the time I was a pastor, I always did pre-marital counseling. I would have the couple come see me for two to three sessions. We would go over what Christian marriage was as a commitment between two persons. We would cover various expectations of husband and wife along with the Biblical teachings about marriage. All of this led to the two eventually standing at the altar and pledging their loyalty.  

A year later, we did the whole process again and then repeated it every year afterward. Well, that last sentence is not true. To actually do a repeat every year of what we had originally instructed them on would say I really did not do a good job the first time around. 

Is this not, however, exactly what we are doing when we have the annual fall stewardship campaign? We taught them originally. They joined the church and pledged allegiance to Christ. Then every year afterward, we do it again and again and again. When will we wake up and begin to realize that this must mean we are doing something wrong in the first place? Perhaps this is the year to do something different. 

Giving Is Not What God Wants FROM You; It’s What God Wants FOR You.

Most annual campaigns either subtly or directly make it clear that the important thing is for the budget to get fully pledged. A church has a certain set of expenses, and those expenses must be met for the church to remain open. This budget is usually distributed with notations about how much it has increased. The emphasis is generally on the bottom line—what is required to do ministry in the coming year.  

Giving at a certain level is emphasized because the church needs to have a certain amount to function. Depending upon whether the donors are happy and excited about the future of ministry in that particular local church will greatly influence whether or not the entire budget is pledged for the coming year. Seldom is this approach to your annual campaign very effective. Yet, it is precisely the approach that is repeated again and again and again. 

What will work, and has proven to work, is the Biblical way. This is placing the emphasis on the donor’s need to be generous. When generosity takes hold of a person, the next step is truly experiencing what faith and a walk with Christ is all about. As long as money and a love of things are the priority in life, Christ cannot be. The goal of any stewardship campaign in a church should never be to pledge a budget or raise a certain amount of money. The goal of it and all things in a church is to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus.  

Is Your Approach to Your Annual Campaign Making Disciples?

Years ago, in one of my seminars, I was asked if I had a favorite annual stewardship campaign. And if I didn’t have one, would I create one for others to use? I answered no to both. I think having a go-to program that you repeat again and again isn’t very effective. Programs don’t change people; discipleship does.  

Later, I did create a process for leaders to use to guide their church toward a culture of generosity. It’s more important to move someone along a spiritual growth plan that takes them from, “What am I going to do with my money?” to “How can I invest God’s money into building God’s kingdom?” That shift will change the people in your pews and, ultimately, the culture of your church. 

Don’t just go through the motions one more time this year. Commit to creating a discipleship pathway where generosity is at its core. What we do with our time, treasure, temple, talent, and testimony matters to God. That means it should matter to those who lead in God’s church, too.  

Next Steps:

Do you want access to more practical tools to help you cultivate a culture of generosity in your church in 2020?  Visit our Giving365 resource center.

Click here to request a free 20-minute consultation with a Horizons Ministry Strategist about how your church can increase ministry funding and improve discipleship through a process we call Next Level Generosity.


1 Comment

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    I am the pastor of a church in Massachusetts, a secular culture base community. I was a pastor in North Caroline where Spirituality was a norm not an exception. Most programs work well there and no so here. Can you, after prayerful thought, share how you believe this would it wouldn’t work here. Thank you


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