Join two of the most knowledgeable leaders in church stewardship, Joel Mikell (Horizons Stewardship) and Doug Turner (Culture of Ready) for a free webinar entitled, The One. The Few. The Many. On Thursday, November 8, 2018 at 11AM ET/8AM PT, these industry experts will discuss how a one-size-fits-all approach to generosity may be negatively impacting your church. The webinar will address how to develop distinct approaches for three important groups within every church.
The One: a small percentage of individuals who process giving in a highly relational setting. You’ll learn strategies for developing a disciipleship approach for those who have capacity to become the financial leaders in your church.
The Few: a core group that tends to live out their faith in community. You will learn ways to create safe spaces for “the few” to take risks and grow in the grace of giving.
The Many: the largest group in any church that contributes very little financial income. You will learn how to engage this group and help them engage in the generosity journey.
It is a source of angst for many pastors: a forecast of inclement weather scheduled to hit on a Saturday night or Sunday morning. Whether heavy snow, ice, hurricanes, major storms or brutal cold temperatures, pastors have to make the decision of whether to cancel church services entirely or hold worship for the faithful few who will brave the elements regardless of the forecast. The angst is not just about what canceling services will do to the annual attendance figures or preaching a sermon (that took 15 hours to prepare) to a much smaller crowd. Rather, the angst typically centers on church giving, or the lack thereof.
When weather negatively impacts attendance, the church may face a financial crunch without that week’s regular offering. The impact on the budget may be felt for months as the church tries to “catch up.” And if bad weather hits on more than one weekend, the effect is multiplied.
Pastor Aaron had not canceled worship services for over twenty years. There was no snow deep enough or temperature too low to keep him away from church on Sundays. As lead pastor at St. Paul’s UMC in Joplin, Missouri, a multi-campus church with 1,000 average Sunday attendance, he was willing to preach to 10 people if they were willing to come out. But last winter he faced a forecast that even he could not overcome. Inches of ice falling from Saturday evening into Sunday afternoon were predicted. A mandatory order was issued for people to stay off the roads. Church was canceled. Like many pastors who faced the same wintry weather, Pastor Aaron was concerned about the impact of canceling services on church giving.
It all started a year earlier when the church went through Horizons’ “Stewardship Discovery” program. We reviewed data, met with staff and ministry leaders, and had conversations with financial supporters. Through the Stewardship Discovery process, the church gained valuable insights into their unique culture and how it impacted church giving. The recommendations were accepted, and the church engaged a Horizons coach to assist with implementation.
When Pastor Aaron sent an email announcing church services were canceled, he reminded and encouraged members to make their offerings electronically. Because the church had developed effective electronic giving practices, people knew how to respond. Not only did the ice eventually melt, so did the stress about needing to ‘catch up’ or cut expenses.
It may be another twenty years before Pastor Aaron is forced to cancel worship again. But if inclement weather should strike, he won’t need to be anxious about church giving. Now, about that well-prepared sermon…that’s another story.
Rev. Aaron Brown is Lead Pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Joplin, Missouri.
Prior to moving forward with a church capital campaign, here are 5 important steps that can substantially improve your results.
Before you get started on a church capital campaign, spend time to understand your “why.” Being able to articulate your why, or the purpose of your project, is critical to inspiring your supporters. Whether your project is new construction, renovation, debt retirement, outreach, or increasing endowment, it is essential to communicate why it is important. How will your completed project transform lives? What impact will your project have on your ability to do God’s work in the world? Clearly state why a church capital campaign is necessary and why it is urgent. By doing so, you will build momentum and support before you launch, ensuring a successful campaign. (For more insights on clarifying vision, click here.)
Those who provide financial leadership to the ministries of your church also play a vital role in your church capital campaign. Before your plans are final, meet with your financial leaders to discuss the project details and inspire them with your why. Some of your financial leaders are business leaders in your community. Ask for their input, invite them into the conversation, and learn from their wisdom. Those who have the capacity to make major gifts can dramatically impact your results. People typically help fund a project they helped to conceive. [For more information on how to engage Financial Leaders, go here].
Once you have clarified your why, and gained the support of your financial leaders, engage the various groups within your church. Build excitement around the project, answer questions, and develop advocates for the campaign. Once your core constituents and leaders have caught your vision for the project, they will be able to share their enthusiasm with others. Early momentum and excitement will build as you prepare to launch your campaign.
Regardless which communication channels you use, have the necessary processes in place to ensure clear and timely communication. Is your church software current and able to track capital campaign commitments? If you plan to use direct mail, email, or texting, do you have up-to-date contact information for your members? Do you have a current social media plan? Are your members connecting with you on your various social media platforms? Is your church actively encouraging egiving (More on egiving here and here)? Before you launch, consider all the ways in which you will share information and shore up your processes to ensure clear and timely delivery of your messages.
Hiring a professional consulting firm will ensure you are raising as much as possible to fund your vision for ministry. Some churches choose to conduct capital campaigns without the benefit of counsel, often with a lackluster result. In-house campaigns typically raise less than professionally-run campaigns and can significantly strain staff resources. At Horizons, we believe in the importance of hiring not just the best firm, but hiring the best fit for your church. Hiring a consultant is similar to hiring a part-time staff person because of the time commitment and importance of the relationship. The vast array of Horizons’ Ministry Strategists’ styles, experiences, and denominational backgrounds ensures a perfect match to meet the needs of every church.