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.

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.

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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A Story of Faith and Transformation You Need to Know

Inspirational stories such as the story of Clarkston United Methodist Church, Clarkston, Michigan, provide encouragement, insights, and motivation. Their clear vision for ministry, hearts full of gratitude for God’s blessings, and willingness to follow God’s leading proved to be a winning combination. Add to the mix competent, capable, and faithful leaders and the story becomes a roadmap to growing generosity and achieving God-sized ministry objectives.

Here is the story of faith and transformation from Clarkston United Methodist Church.

In 2012, when conversations began about values, timing, and next steps, the leaders at Clarkston UMC had already been dealing with the constraints of a space that no longer fit their call to ministry. Their prime location had great potential, but the leaders were cautious to not adopt a “build it and they will come” attitude. Instead of building for building sake, they set out to engage the congregation in meaningful conversations about ministry needs and how to address them. A series of TownHall meetings provided the opportunity for sharing detailed information regarding the plans for expansion and re-purposing of existing space to meet current and future ministry objectives. The entire church community received an invitation to join in the discussion regarding how Clarkston UMC was being called by God to live out its vision.

Clarkston’s leaders began searching for a capital campaign firm that would enable them to fund their project and fulfill God’s vision for ministry. Based on recommendations from other senior pastors and a desire for an organic process that fit their culture, Clarkston UMC chose Horizons Stewardship. Rick Dake, Clarkston UMC’s senior pastor said, “We had not been thriving in the area of stewardship and wanted someone to tow the line with us.” Capital campaign co-chair, Ric Huttenlocher added,

Horizons stood out because of their customized approach.

They took the time to understand us and develop a personalized program.

Following a comprehensive pre-campaign study, Horizons determined Clarkston’s capital campaign was likely to raise between $2.3 million and $3.0 million over the next three years. The projection was based on a review of historical data, meetings with Clarkston’s staff, multiple face-to-face interviews with key church leaders, and an online church member survey. The survey also provided insights into how the campaign process should be designed for the highest degree of effectiveness. Rev. Dake explained,

 Our leaders were deeply involved in making the campaign suitable to our culture.

We were able to step up and embrace the challenging parts, but also empowered to give direction to the process to fit our context.

Over the next several months, the congregation engaged in intentional prayer using a 21-day devotional guide and gathered in various groups and settings to share their questions and enthusiasm for the project. The highlight was Gratitude Sunday which, according to Rev. Dake was “our Good Friday and Easter rolled into one. It was without a doubt a holy time for this congregation. We became unified in our understanding that what we do matters and that we are, in fact, changing lives through this ministry.” The campaign unfolded during Lent, which was, at first a concern for Rev. Dake. “I did not think it was a good idea to conduct the campaign during the holy time of Lent. When I saw the impact the campaign’s spiritual component had, I realized I had been wrong. It turned out to be the best Lent we ever had,” explained Rev. Dake.

Clarkston’s people prayed, gathered, shared, and gave thanks.

They also pledged over $3.3 million to their capital campaign.

Six months prior to the conclusion of the campaign,

they have collected over $3.5 million.

According to Rev. Dake, the capital campaign had a considerable impact in many areas. Rev. Dake said his understanding of generosity shifted beyond simply an adaptation of stewardship language. He clarified,

We have moved the needle in this church and now are able to talk about money in a very different way. Generosity is a spiritual discipline that begins with gratitude and ends with joy. This will be our culture moving forward.

Clarkston United Methodist Church continues to grow in worship, giving, and ministry. Following their successful capital campaign, Clarkston UMC also partnered with Horizons to conduct a Taking the Next Step annual budget campaign. According to Ric Huttenlocher, “We needed to devote the time and energy to helping people understand the meaning of generosity and how to apply generosity principles to their daily lives.”

As a result, Clarkston’s annual giving increased by 13% over the previous year. Also, Clarkston achieved a 46% increase in the number of commitments received.

 

8 Ways to Improve Your Next Capital Campaign

Every gift is valuable when you’re running a capital campaign – continuing to provide events, programs, and services to the community takes investment. In 2018, you can make your capital campaign more successful than ever by keeping in mind a few best practices and fixing a few issues that can plague even the most efficient church fundraising efforts.

Here are the building blocks of a successful capital campaign.

  • Identify the group that supplies most of your annual income.  Generosity is an important spiritual issue. Pastors should know how members are growing spiritually.
  • Nurture positive relationships with your major donors before you ask for a gift.  We have to earn the right to ask. By regularly meeting with your financial leaders to show interest in the things they are concerned about, you convey that they are part of the community and that you care about them, their families and their business. Mentor and minister to them spiritually to develop relationships and earn the right to ask when the time comes.
  • Find out how to connect families to your vision.  Find out what questions your donors have about the capital campaign. If you know what questions, reservations, or objections they have, you can address them in advance of your campaign. A pre-campaign study is a vital step in successfully connecting your most valuable donors to the project vision.
  • Involve your financial leaders early and invite them to help you establish momentum.  Leadership gifts build momentum, which shows the rest of the congregation that the goal is achievable if they will do their part.
  • Value every gift.  Without more considerable gifts you will not raise what you need. Nonetheless, it’s important to value the widow’s mite contributions equally with the large donations.  All your members working together will achieve a bigger result than what a few can accomplish alone.

 

Here are the three issues to avoid in your next capital campaign.

1. We need to go right now!

You may feel like momentum is on your side, or like a big church vote points to a need to act swiftly. Or maybe you have a note coming due. When a church comes to me with such a sense of urgency, I wonder if they did not know all of these things several months back. I respond that we can certainly go “right now!” but I sure wish I had more time. When things are rushed, the chance for errors increases markedly. You frequently do not do things as thoroughly or creatively as you might like because the clock is ticking. If you see even the possibility of a campaign in your church’s future, call immediately. Talk with a professional about timing. The cost to have someone under contract is the same, whether it’s for one year or for two months. Ideally, you should have this conversation from one year out to no later than nine months out.

2. We only want to raise ___________.

Don’t settle for less than what you need for your budget. When someone comes to me asking for less than what they might really need, I ask them if they could use two times the amount. Usually, I get something like, “Well I guess, but we have not talked about it.” This is a big mistake. For a campaign to raise you half your budget will cost you the same as if I raise 2-3X the amount. At least test for a higher target. Once your church has done a capital campaign and declared victory; that’s it. You can’t turn around and do it again in a year – you’re done for a while. Whenever you think you will need a campaign, make sure you are trying to reach your maximum potential.

3. We need a campaign because we are way behind on the budget.

You are fishing in the wrong pond. Capital dollars do not fund operating budgets. The annual pocket or (better yet) the generosity pocket supports your operating budgets. This approach is entirely different from a capital campaign. It may even take longer, but it will pay long-term benefits.

The lesson in all of this is to be cautious and thoughtful. First, diagnose your problem or need. Then identify the right solution. And finally, take a step-by-step approach under the guidance of a qualified, experienced partner. The result will be a smoother, more successful capital campaign that will sustain your efforts for longer and even help to build community through the funding process.

This article was originally published by Voices on Stewardship (voicesonstewardship.com).

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.

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