Books by Horizons Stewardship Authors

At Horizons Stewardship, we pride ourselves for having some of today’s best-selling generosity authors within our family.
Explore the latest on giving in the church below.

God vs. Money

Winning Strategies in the Combat Zone

Stop falling for Money’s false promises, and trust in God’s promises. Help those you lead do the same.

God and Money both make a lot of promises. God keeps all of God’s promises, while Money keeps none.
However, Money has better advertising, and we keep falling for it.

Here’s how to turn that trend around in your life and in the lives of those you lead. Get practical, up-to-date, expert advice on fundraising–one of the biggest challenges facing church and not-for-profit leaders.

The E-Giving Guide For Every Church

Using Digital Tools To Grow Ministry

The purpose of this book is to help churches raise more money for ministry and mission by better using electronic media.

Although philanthropy in the US is growing, churches continue to receive a declining portion of that philanthropy. Part of the challenge is that America is becoming significantly less dependent on paper currency (cash and checks) yet the church continues to count on paper currency as their primary media for donations. There have been warning signals for several years. Many churches face shrinking budgets and membership and are beginning to ask the right questions. The author’s goal is to capture this teachable moment with a resource that will encourage pastors and church leaders to utilize tools already available to change the trajectory of their resourcing; because nothing is more important than what God has called them to do.

The banking and electronic giving industries have not made it easy for churches to understand their services or fees. This book will take the confusion and fear away and open churches to new possibilities.

Generosity Rising

Lead a Stewardship Revolution in Your Church

Generosity Rising calls for nothing short of a revolution in the arena of stewardship and finances. There comes a time when the system no longer seems to work; when new programs and one more workshop are no longer effective. There comes a time when revolution is the only viable option; a revolution that overthrows the old system and ushers in a new order. For the church, NOW is such a time! Yes, you heard me right; the church today desperately needs a revolution in stewardship and generosity. The church today needs pastors and stewardship chairs willing to step forward and lead a revolution in generosity and giving.

Pastor and lay people attend all the workshops and read all the books but nothing ever seems to change. People are frustrated and angry. People see how in most churches a small percentage give the majority of dollars and how the vast majority of givers and not much more than token contributors. The majority of people in our churches spend more on dog food every month than they give to support to their church. We need a revolution, a revolution led by leaders who ready to step up and be counted, leaders not content to with the abysmal giving histories in most of our churches. This book is about nothing less than starting a movement, a revolution of generosity within our churches. This book is a handbook on how to lead a revolution in generosity. I invite you on a journey to go from being a lone nut to a revolutionary leader in generosity.

Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate (Revised Edition)

A New Vision for Financial Stewardship

People don’t give to church because we don’t offer them a compelling vision of the good their giving will achieve. Hearing a young attorney speak of the faith-based reasons for which he had just made a substantial monetary gift to a community youth center, Clif Christopher asked the speaker if he would consider making a similar contribution to the congregation of which he was an active member. “Lord, no they would not know what to do with it” was the answer.

That, in a nutshell, describes the problem churches are facing in their stewardship efforts, says Christopher. Unlike leading nonprofit agencies and institutions, we too often fail to convince potential givers that their gifts will have impact and significance. In this book, Christopher lays out the main reasons for this failure to capture the imagination of potential givers, including our frequent failure simply to ask. Written with the needs of pastors and stewardship teams in mind, Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate provides immediate, practical guidance to all who seek to help God’s people be better stewards of their resources.

“I recently read Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, and it radically revolutionized my approach to perspective on finances within the church. I, like most pastors, don’t like talking about money. I am 33, 18-months into a new pastorate, in the middle of a capital campaign and relocation effort, and despite having a PhD in Organizational Leadership, I often feel in over my head. However, Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate gave me the vision, confidence, research, and tools I needed, and inspired me to take a more active approach to our Stewardship campaign. Rather than delegating to our President of Trustees, I took the bull by the horns. I recruited a videographer to record a compelling video testimony and I preached an entire sermon on Stewardship. It happened to be the largest attended Sunday since I’ve been at my church (other than Christmas Eve), and people told me it was an “exciting” and “inspiring” Sunday. I was shocked, but I rejoice in the faithful provision of the Lord. Thank you, Dr. Christopher, for your book and your wisdom.

 – Rev. Christopher

Bounty

10 Ways to Increase Giving at Your Church

Bounty envisions stewardship to be grounded in gratitude, revealed in prayer, lived in faith. Bounty offers the only approach to stewardship development that truly works long term— a spiritual one. At the forefront, it entails seeking God’s guidance for the use of the blessings we have been given, bringing us closer to God. This God- given inspiration moves us from searching for the right annual campaign program, or the perfect sermon, to an entirely new way of thinking about who we are and what we are called to do. By incorporating the practices of Bounty , you will lead your church family to experience the genuine joy of generosity.

The ten best practices described in Bounty will guide you in your stewardship role. These practices will challenge you to replace ineffective number crunching with prayerful discernment. Both clergy and laity will benefit from Bounty’s explanation of how old habits can inadvertently sabotage efforts to raise money for ministry. The examples we include here are drawn from our experiences; the practical tools we provide will help to lighten your load.

Ministry of Giving

A New Vision for Financial Stewardsip

Outside of financial crises or large capital campaigns, “major donors” or “high-capacity givers” may be the most ignored group in churches when it comes to spiritual development. The Ministry of Giving is a great reminder that our financial leaders have much more to give than just financial resources, and building a bridge to them will benefit us in ways we have yet to understand or imagine. Launching a giving ministry isn’t about money. It’s about raising up people to fulfill the mission and vision God has placed on our hearts.

Crafting a Theology of Stewardship

(and Why Your Church Needs One)

Crafting A Theology of Stewardship is a call to the local church to re-visit and re-think their beliefs and practices in the area of stewardship, generosity, money, and giving and then to re-calibrate and re-cast those beliefs based on the teaching of scripture.

In this eBook, Joel Mikell lays out seven perspectives that should be at the heart of a theology of stewardship and presents five significant value propositions that will result. Joel also suggests a step-by-step strategy for creating a written document that articulates a theology of stewardship for the church and provides several examples to guide the process. The last section lists twenty helpful resources in the areas of stewardship, giving, and generosity.

Rich Church, Poor Church

Keys to Effective Financial Ministry

In Dr. Clif Christopher’s nearly forty years in ministry as a pastor and President of Horizons Stewardship Company, he has witnessed the financial stewardship practices of thousands of churches. A few have exceptional records in acquiring and managing the necessary funds for mission and ministry, but the vast majority struggle every year to get by.

In this important new work made even more relevant by our economic times, Christopher contrasts the traits of the most productive congregations with those who perennially fail to secure the funds to perform transformational ministry. Some churches practice the necessary financial habits that form the foundation of successful ministry, and others waste valuable resources and undermine ministry opportunities. Through Christopher’s insight born out of years of experience and consultation, readers can assess the financial condition of their own churches.

Church Giving Matters

More Money Really Does Mean More Ministry (2nd ed.)

There is a wide gap between how pastors are trained and what churches expect of them. Pastors are trained to preach, while congregations expect them to manage a complex, nonprofit organization, measuring their success by the people in the pews and the dollars in the plate. On top of that, the ever-increasing complexity of local church ministry is demanding more money while the rules of funding ministry are changing, leaving many pastors feeling uncomfortable, unprepared, and overwhelmed.

With practical tools and effective leadership principles that can be immediately implemented, Ben and Joel assist church leaders in changing the conversation from “What do we have to cut to survive?” to “What does God want us to do next?”

If you desire to gain a better understanding of how to lead your church through tough and prosperous economic times, and if you believe God will provide all you need to accomplish the ministry he has placed on your heart, this book will be invaluable resource to help you fund your God-inspired vision.

CLIMB Higher

Reaching New Heights in Giving and Discipleship

C.L.I.M.B. draws on an analogy comparing stewardship development and summiting Mount Everest. Both may seem to be long, challenging, and depleting endeavors, but for those who are successful, achieving the summit can be a life-transforming experience.
For those who are willing to do the work and commit to following the 5 principles of C.L.I.M.B.

Clear and compelling vision
Leadership
Inspiration
Motivation
Boldly ask

Achieving the summit of enduring and effective stewardship will have a profound and everlasting impact on you and the ministries of your church. Ministry will be funded and lives forever changed. Just as the expedition guides dream of making Everest accessible to the masses, the components of C.L.I.M.B. are the result of a similar dream; a dream of a new reality. A reality in which Christians no longer view “stewardship” as drudgery but as an exhilarating opportunity to develop a cherished relationship with Christ. A reality where people give joyfully, substantially, and gratefully to ministries that fulfill God’s kingdom on earth. We dream of a time when Christians live fully into the image of our generous and loving God. C.L.I.M.B. rejects all the negative baggage and instead presents stewardship as a life-giving, transformative process that results in deeper faith, stronger ministries, and vibrant congregations.

Gaining Traction

Field Guide for Leadership Teams

An experienced pastor, businessman, and coach, John Laster lays out major strategies for church leaders to use in developing a team concept and cooperation to lead a church to reach its leadership potential. Bill Easum describes Gaining Traction as, “a life-tested field guide to the future of your church.” Using military metaphors with field briefings and field exercises for the reader, Laster lays the foundations that each leader must build upon. Laster shows step by step how to develop each of these foundations personally and corporately. Gaining Traction also explores leadership challenges and how to deal with them. These include overcoming fear and developing trust, building team credibility using suggested credibility tools, and amassing leadership capital. The final section deals with practical matters of team formation, resourcing, recruiting, and training including how to conduct a pastoral search with congregational input, and how to develop leadership team principles.

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RECENT Posts

Where are People Meeting Jesus in Your Church?

I get all the effort made to engage donors … I really do!  That attention and work is important for the success of your mission and ministry.  People might be moved to donate a little something for a variety of reasons.  Baby steps, right?  Grow people where you can and as widely as you can. But, how do you develop stewards?

 

How do people move from being donors to being stewards?

 

That goal is not accomplished with a fund-raising or a data-mining strategy.  Please, I am not picking on good, intentional, data-smart, fundraising strategies … great stuff that everyone should be doing to open the doors.  But how do people move from donor-ism to stewardship?

 

Stewardship, I am convinced, is about a conversion experience –

not a moves management chart.

 

Stewardship is a leap of faith, not a next step in giving. Stewardship is a life change, not a habit adjustment.  Stewardship is a joyful expression, not a dutiful chore.  Stewardship is about the possibilities and potential in the world beyond myself.  Stewardship is a life-altering choice that changes perspective, priorities, and my fundamental definition of who I am.  So, how do you invite people to that place?

 

The story of Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-10) speaks volumes here.  Find a bible and read the short story right now. Besides being a “wee little man,” Zaccheus was a sinner (welcome to the club) and, of all god-awful things, a political tool tax collector.  But he was curious about Jesus.  Jesus noticed Zaccheus and invited himself to dinner at Zaccheus’s home.  We do not know what they did or what they talked about (it is a very short story).  We do know that Zaccheus decided to radically change his life in some very specific and very real financial ways. Jesus had something to say about the radical changes Zaccheus made.

 

Jesus’s response was not, “Good job upping your pledge this year!”

Jesus’s response was, “SALVATION has come to this house today.”

 

Salvation – that is a really big deal (which stewardship follows as an expression)! Perhaps we have been missing a step in our stewardship strategies.  Perhaps we should also be focusing on how we provide the contexts and experiences leading people to exclaim that salvation has come to this house this day!

 

How do you get people to meet Jesus?

 

Not just to meet your church or your people or your programs or your fellowship, but to actually meet Jesus?  I am not trying to be terribly trite or ridiculously religious here; but I am asking an important question – how do you invite people to meet Jesus in your church?

 

Stewardship is a result of connecting meaningful, transformational, conversion experiences to a clear sense of missional purpose and personal action.

 

 

Where does that happen in your church?  In intentional small groups?  Through hands-on mission opportunities?  In deep relationships?  In being the very presence and body of Christ?  Probably not just in fantastic stewardship campaigns, awesome sermons, and cool programs.

 

I can help you raise more money.  I can help you clarify your mission and call to action.  I can help you to build trust and confidence.  I can help you be more successful in all of these areas. All worthwhile stuff!  But I cannot transform your life and make you a Steward.  I can not bring salvation to your house. Only a real encounter with Jesus can do that.  So, again, how are you (and we) helping your people to meet Jesus?

 

Mick Tune was a pastor for eighteen years and has worked as a consultant with churches across the country for more than twenty years. He is a partner with Doug Turner at Culture of Ready (a ministry partner with Horizons Stewardship) and the author of Wildering: Anyone’s Guide to Enjoying the American Wilderness.

Increase Giving: Begin with Powerful Storytelling

Whether in a capital campaign, annual giving, or planned giving program, generous giving happens when people believe your organization is changing people’s lives. Sadly, most churches try to grow giving by presenting data, finance reports, and line item budgets. This approach doesn’t work! Rather than share facts and figures, tell stories of how you are making an impact.

 

How does storytelling help grow giving?

 

The pastor called as I was getting off the plane. She said, “Scott, I’m being moved.” After a moment of stunned silence I asked, “When?” Her response shocked, surprised and even angered me. This popular pastor was being moved in the middle of the public phase of a capital campaign for debt. The debt we were funding was the result of building a multi-million dollar youth and community center.

Later that day I met with the capital campaign leadership team. They were grieving and I had little hope of a productive meeting. As I stood there pondering what I might say, the youth pastor came up to me and said, “Remember you asked for some video testimony from our youth? Well, I have a video if you’d like to show it.”

The youth pastor hit “play” and a handsome young man, about 14 or 15 years old, appeared on screen and told his story. He had been physically and sexually abused as a child. At the age of 12 he began drinking and then attempted suicide.

He said, “Life was not worth living and then someone invited me to youth group. It was the first time I knew I someone cared.” Then, looking into the camera, he said, “Thank you. Life is worth living. You saved my life.” With his permission, this video became the centerpiece of the campaign.

In the midst of grieving their pastor’s transfer, the young man reminded us of the importance of their ministry. The church’s generosity was having a life-changing impact. As a result, despite the pastor preparing to leave, the church raised more money in the second campaign than in the first.

The reason for such generous giving was powerful storytelling.

 

To inspire generous giving, donors need to hear stories of transformation. Financial reports fall on deaf ears and do nothing to inspire giving. In making the case for debt reduction, we might have said,

“We spent X dollars and we now have X dollars in debt with an interest rate of 6%. If we eliminate the debt we will save X dollars.” Then we would probably add, “Since building our youth and community center, we’ve grown our youth group from X to Y.” Yes, the facts are important.

Facts don’t inspire generosity. Stories of impact grow giving.

 

For example, after V.B.S., instead of reporting you had 25 kids and 15 volunteers, tell their stories. Ask parents to talk about the impact V.B.S. had on them and their children.  Better yet, invite a child to talk about what V.B.S. meant to him or her.  Ask volunteers to talk about the joy of serving and how they saw God at work.

How can you begin inspiring generosity with powerful storytelling? Here are some ideas:

 

  1. Identify stories at staff meetings, leadership meetings, and program meetings. Be prepared for silence and blank stares. However, if you persist, sharing stories will eventually become the best part of your meetings.
  2. Regularly ask people to tell stories in worship—send out video links, always with permission.
  3. Solicit stories after significant events like V.B.S, mission trips, Bible Studies, youth retreats, etc.
  4. Any communication, newsletter or email blast should include at least one story.
  5. Personal giving statements, and other communication about finances, should include stories of how the generosity of the church members is transforming lives. Connect money with the church’s ability to do ministry. Tell people how their generosity is impacting people every day.
  6. When you present the budget, resist reporting data only. Through powerful storytelling, you will transform your budget into a compelling tale of God’s work.

 

When you begin asking people to tell their stories, some people will argue they don’t have a story. However, each of us has a story to tell. You can help people get in touch with their stories.

Ask simple, yet thought-provoking questions such as…

 

What difference has the church made in my life?

Because of my relationship to God, how is my life different?

How is my life different because I…

  • went on a mission trip?
  • teach Sunday School?
  • attend youth group?
  • participated in a weekend retreat?
  • became more generous?
  • started to tithe?
  • attended a Bible study?

Do you want to inspire generosity and increase giving?

Instead of reporting facts and figures — tell stories. When the focus is on powerful storytelling, meetings become more enjoyable and newsletters, email blasts and financial statements come alive. In addition, you and your people will know that all the time, energy and yes, all the money, is in fact making a difference. And that makes it all worthwhile.

For more insights on powerful storytelling go here and here.

 

Scott McKenzie is a Partner and Senior Vice President with Horizons. Scott is a pastor, fund raising consultant, generosity coach and story teller.

How to Increase Your Church’s Giving in Spite of the New Tax Law

The headlines suggest impending doom for churches:

“Charitable Donations Are Tough to Get Under the New Tax Law”
“Charities Brace for Giving Plunge in Wake of New Tax Law”
“Charities to Lose Billions in Donations Due to New Tax Law”

This is not the first time that changes in tax laws have resulted in such dire predictions. In 1981, the New York Times published this headline: “New Tax Law is Said to Endanger Billions of Gifts to Private Groups.” Fortunately for the nonprofit sector, that predication was wrong: gifts to charity over the next three years actually increased!

What impact will the new tax law have on charitable giving?

The long-term impact on philanthropy of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) remains unclear.  However, a strategic giving summit, led by Robert Sharpe of the Sharpe Group, highlighted new opportunities for donors made possible by the new law. Also, Sharpe suggested several strategies to grow giving to compensate for changes in the law. Here is an overview of Sharpe’s perspective on the law and the most effective ways to give going forward.

First, the reality. The new law was the most comprehensive revision in the tax code in over 30 years. The changes included a doubling of the standard deduction and a reduction in the mortgage interest and state/local tax deductions. Also, the cap on cash gifts was raised from 50% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to 60%. Limits on deductions for high income donors were suspended until 2026 and home equity interest deductions were eliminated. As a result, it is expected that half of the people who itemized their deductions in 2017 will not itemize in 2018. However, high income donors who will continue to itemize may find expanded opportunities and incentives for larger charitable gifts.

So, how can churches guide donors? What can be done to salvage the tax benefits for those who no longer itemize and promote new opportunities for those who do?

Sharpe suggested three strategies: bunching, boosting and bypassing.

Bunching refers to donors making charitable contributions every other year. The every-other-year strategy enables donors to bunch two years of giving into one allowing them to itemize in the year their gifts were given. As an alternative, donors can contribute to a donor-advised fund (DAF) every other year and give ½ to the church each year. This strategy helps the church’s cash flow but can skew income if the church is not aware of the donor’s intentions. Some of your donors may have done this last December. You should review your 2017/2018 giving, especially among your larger donors, to see if they may be using a bunching strategy already.

Boosting is most applicable to capital campaigns. Some high capacity donors may choose to make asset gifts that boost them to itemizer status for a number of years. Donors choosing this option lock in current market values, bypass capital gains taxes, and save a substantial amount on state and federal taxes. Boosting makes sense for donors who have highly appreciated assets that pay minimal dividends and who want to make a larger gift to a capital campaign.

Bypassing is the third way to take advantage of the changes in the tax law. Donors can enjoy a “deduction equivalent” by making gifts that bypass their income stream. The most common form of bypassing is the IRA rollover provision in the tax code. People age 70 ½ and older who have IRAs are required to take a yearly minimum distribution (RMD) that is taxable as ordinary income. These people are now able to make a yearly gift of up to $100,000 directly from their IRAs to churches and charities. This gift counts as their RMD, avoids the taxes, and reduces their AGI on which many other deductions are based. Although the IRA rollover provision predates the new tax law, its importance has been amplified by recent changes and by the increasing number of Boomers becoming eligible.

Finally, Estate and Gift Tax laws remain essentially unchanged. However, by doubling the exemption amount ($11.18 million per individual and $22.36 million for married couples in 2018) and indexing it for inflation, the TCJA eliminated federal estate taxes for 99.9% of Americans. For some perspective on the scope of this change, the exemption was $600,000 as recently as 2000. As a result, it is likely more discretionary assets will remain in the typical estate. Surveys show that donors with such increased assets probably will split the tax savings between family and charity.

So how should churches respond to these changes? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Educate yourself, your staff, and donors about the changes that impact charitable gifts. The TCJA left the charitable deduction intact while repealing and limiting many others. In fact, some benefits were actually expanded! Many denominational and community foundations have staff whose primary job is providing advice and resources for their constituents. Take advantage of these low-cost (or free) resources. The Sharpe Group has excellent white papers and educational materials, too. “Talk to your financial advisors” should be your mantra in 2018 and 2019!

 

  1. Promote the benefits of gifts of appreciated securities and other non-cash assets, such as IRA rollovers. Because about 8,000 Baby Boomers turn 70 ½ every day, appreciated asset gifts will be increasingly important in funding your ministry. Remember the IRA rollover provision allows eligible donors to enjoy the tax benefits of their gifts regardless of whether they itemize. However, your church will not receive asset gifts unless you make a conscious effort to educate members about these opportunities. Remember to tell donors how these gifts make a substantial difference to your mission and ministry. Colleges and nonprofits are making the case for why they should receive these gifts. Be sure you are doing the same.

 

  1. Inform your donors that the federal estate and gift tax has, for all practicable purposes, been eliminated. Many donors created estate plans based on the old tax laws. Those plans usually included insurance or assets in trusts to pay the necessary taxes. Any bequests to family and charities were made from the remaining assets. The higher estate tax exemption means donors can leave more to charity and increase the amount distributed to family members! Position your church to be the recipient of these “extra savings.” Once again, take advantage of the resources available through denominational and community foundations.

The new tax law does not mean your giving will be negatively impacted. But growing giving requires being informed about the best ways to give.

Too many church leaders are operating under the assumption that the TCJA will have a negative impact on giving. Robert Sharpe reminded us that the “sky has never fallen” except during major economic downturns. It is clear the opportunities made possible by the new law outweigh the threats created by it. Churches need to tell that good news in order to enhance their ability to proclaim THE Good News!

Tom Norwood, D.Min, CFRE is a Senior Vice President with Horizons. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister who holds degrees from Davidson College, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Yale University. Tom is a regular speaker at regional and national fundraising and stewardship conferences.

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