Instead of Despair, Make Giving About God

by | April 13, 2018

At some point during the year, despair sets in. Giving is falling behind and expenses are exceeding budget. If something isn’t done soon, next year’s programs will have to be cut. The ship is sinking quickly. But before despair sets in, consider a different way to increase giving. Make giving about God.

For some churches, the initial response is to have the finance chair stand before the congregation to grimly inform the congregation of the impending financial crisis. Pointing to charts showing the steep decline and referencing spreadsheets bleeding red ink, the finance chair tells the congregation to dig deep or else. In addition, weekly bulletin notices of income vs. expenses clearly show the growing deficit (and the box around the notice gets bolder from week to week). Sound familiar?

There is a better way to encourage giving.

Desperation has never been an effective strategy for growing giving. In fact, for many members (and especially visitors) this strategy can have the opposite effect.

One of the most successful and spiritually enriching methods for increasing giving has nothing to do with budgets, buildings, dollars, or cents.

Imagine teaching about giving as a key station on the discipleship path. As children of God, created in God’s image, aren’t we born to be givers? Hasn’t God blessed us immeasurably? What if we understood generosity to mean giving like God has given to us?

Generosity begins with God.

Although finance chairs and pastors might agree on the theological accuracy of this statement, they believe it is impractical for motivating their people. Often the rebuttal is, “But we have to talk budget. We have to let people know how far behind we are or they won’t give.”  How has that been working so far?

The most important stewardship verse in the Bible has nothing to do with budgets, building, dollars or cents. The most important stewardship verse is this:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NRSV)

God loves…God gives…And the world is forever changed! The same is true for us!

We love…We give…And the world is forever changed.

We were created in the image of a loving and generous God. Therefore, we become the people God intended for us to be when we love and give generously. God changes us when we give like God. Imagine your congregation full of people who are becoming the loving and giving people God intended them to become. Imagine the impact of your generosity upon the world.

Ok, you might be behind on the budget. Don’t despair. Don’t focus on budgets, buildings, dollars, and cents. Help people see themselves as born in the image of a loving and generous God. Provide a vision for growing into the generous people God intends for them to become. Give people an opportunity for transformation. In turn, they will transform the world.

 

3 Comments

  1. This is a fantastic reminder, Scott!

    Reply
  2. Thank you. This was encouraging to me.

    Reply
  3. Totally agree, I believe heart felt gratitude for God’s generosity is key to becoming a joyful giver!

    Reply

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Register for our Rich Church, Poor Church Seminar by Oct 2

Rich Church, Poor Church – Keys to Effective Financial Ministry Seminar

with Dr. J. Clif Christopher

 

Registration Due by Oct. 2

 

If you have ever struggled with how to grow generosity in your church, you won’t want to miss one of these two upcoming one-day stewardship seminars.

You and your team will receive valuable insights and knowledge of best practices from Clif Christopher, founder and president of Horizons Stewardship. Clif is the author of several stewardship books and is a sought-after speaker on this important topic. This seminar has received the endorsement of Bishop Trimble and is co-sponsored by the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana.

More details can be found by clicking here or the clicking the “View Event Flyer” button below, including the very economical pricing for individuals and teams ($100 maximum/church).

If you have any questions, email Greg McGarvey (gmcgarvey@horizons.net) or Herb Buwalda (hbuwalda@horizons.net).

We are looking forward to seeing you there!

 

Click here to find out more and register for the Oct. 10 Seminar in Warsaw, IN.

Click here to find out more and register for the Oct. 11 Seminar in Indianapolis, IN.  

 

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Ways to Increase Donor Motivation

172

 

That is how many times I have donated blood. My first donation was through a blood drive when I was in college. It was a relatively painless experience and home-made cookies were offered as motivation! I started donating after that, but for years I did so sporadically.  At some point, I learned my blood type was O negative, a classification fitting only 7% of the population. As a universal blood donor, anyone in a medical emergency could receive my blood. After a brief uptick in my donations, life interfered and my motivation to donate waned.

When I was making my 50th or so donation, I learned something else. In addition to being O negative, I am also CMV negative.  Blood with these two qualities is the only type that can be given to newborn babies. As a donor, I am referred to as a “baby quad” because one pint of my blood can be divided and given to four different babies! After I knew this, I began to make the effort to donate every six weeks. I did this for a time until life got busy again.

Eventually, donating felt more like a duty than a joy and my motivation dwindled.

 

Months would pass without a donation. Finally, after several reminder phone calls from the blood center, I scheduled a time to donate. On the morning before my donation, I spoke with someone on the phone and happened to mention I was giving blood later that day. When I revealed, I am a “baby quad,” the voice on the other end got quiet. After a brief pause, through tears, she said, “Thank you.”   She explained that a few months earlier she had given birth and her baby daughter had required over a dozen blood transfusions. And then she said, “My daughter is alive today because people like you are willing to donate their blood.”

 

That moment reminded me of the reason I donate: giving blood truly is the “gift of life.”

 

Regardless of the type of donation, the primary motivation for giving is belief in the mission the gift supports. Knowing that my blood donation could help save the lives of newborn babies inspired me to donate again! It is up to church leaders to help donors connect the dots between their gift to the church and the church’s ability to do life-changing ministry. Showing your donors how their gifts are making a difference in the world will motivate them to give again.

Here are some ways to increase donor motivation.

  • Keep your mission front and center as a reminder of the importance of giving. The mission of your church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Do not assume everyone understands this single purpose. A recent study by Barna found that 51% of churchgoers state they have never heard of the Great Commission.
  • Have a clear and compelling vision that lifts up the unique ways your church is living out its mission in your context.  Without a clear vision, the church can become inwardly focused and self-serving. A clear vision has the power to shape and connect everything that the church does, both uniting and energizing the congregation in its life and purpose.
  • Create a Vision Statement that is simple and easy to memorize. State it regularly in sermons, in the liturgy, on communication platforms, and on the website.  In 10 Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, author Bishop Bob Farr says “I have never seen a church grow by hanging a mission and vision statement on the wall. On the other hand, I have never seen a growing congregation that didn’t deeply understand their mission and vision.”
  • Share stories of lives impacted and changed through your ministries. It is interesting to learn that 15 or 30 or 100 students went on a mission trip. But it is inspiring to hear one story of how a student’s faith was impacted by that experience. It is rousing to hear a story from someone whose life was changed forever by those students. Facts and data inform the mind but stories touch the heart. Donor motivation requires both.

Help donors stay motivated by connecting their generosity with your mission.

  • Preach on the theology of money and giving. While people will not contribute to the church because it needs money to pay its bills, they will be moved by a biblical message that shapes values and offers guidance on how they can faithfully use their resources.
  • Express gratitude. While receiving thanks may not be the only reason why people give, donors do want to feel their gifts are appreciated. A personal thank-you note is an opportunity to let your supporters know you value them and what they do. Gratitude is key to donor motivation.

 

It was just a simple, heartfelt “Thank you,” but it reminded me of the importance of my donation and reconnected me to the joy of giving. Maybe those who support your church need a reminder as well.

 

Donation #173 is already on my calendar.

 

 

 

To access Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click here to sign up for Giving365.

 

Horizons Announces the Addition of Dr. Rhodes Logan to the Team

Horizons is delighted to announce that Dr. Rhodes Logan, former Chief Development Officer for the United Methodist Church Development Center, has joined the Horizons team.

 

As the CDO, Rhodes oversaw the development activities of eight ministries of the United Methodist Church including annual, capital, and planned giving. Rhodes is an experienced development professional having also raised funds as a Campaign Director for the University of Tennessee and as the Director of Development for the United Way (Knoxville and Oak Ridge) and Carson-Newman University.

 

Through his ministry, Rhodes discovered his passion for working with local churches and religious non-profits. As a Vice President and Ministry Strategist with Horizons, he will continue to capably guide his clients to achieve funding for their missional objectives. Dr. Logan’s expertise spans all areas of development including capital campaigns, major gift solicitations, planned giving, annual giving programs, and development communications. The transformation of individuals and, in turn, the body of Christ, drives and inspires Rhodes’ development ministry.

 

Horizons’ founder, Clif Christopher says, “In my twenty-five years guiding Horizons, I do not think I have ever seen someone with the diverse skill set that Rhodes brings to the team. Not only is he highly committed to the mission of the Church, but he also brings a high-level of skill in all phases of capital acquisition. He joins Horizons as a proven professional.”

 

Horizons’ Managing Partner, Joe Park stated, “Rhodes began his development career in secular higher education but has followed his heart into serving the church at the General Board and conference levels and with faith-based non-profits like Africa University.  Now through Horizons, he brings his formidable skills to serve the local church as well.  We are thrilled to welcome Rhodes Logan to the Horizons Stewardship team!”

 

Dr. Logan can be reached at rlogan@horizons.net.

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