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.

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

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.

Is your Generosity Approach Helping or Hurting your Church?

Register now for a free webinar!

The One. The Few. The Many.

 

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.

Click here to register now for this free webinar produced by Church Executive Magazine.

 

How Canceling Services Actually Increased Church Giving

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.

 

How will church giving be impacted when services are canceled?

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.

 

On a day when the doors of the church were iced over, imagine his joy when he learned the offering was $4,000 higher than the same Sunday a year before when good weather prevailed, and worship services actually happened!

 

What made this possible?

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.

 

The church leadership initiated the following Horizons recommendations:

  • In the church bulletin, remove the weekly offering “received-to-date” data. The amount “received-to-date” provided an inaccurate and incomplete depiction of annual church giving.
  • Communicate more effectively through enhanced giving statements, regular mailings, emails, and meetings. This strategy provided a more comprehensive view of overall church giving.
  • Share life-change stories in worship of how money given to the annual budget was used to impact people’s lives. Giving to the church was being used to deepen ministries and grow disciples not just pay the bills.
  • Encourage electronic church giving through the website and text-to-give. Provide instructions and testimonies in worship from people contributing electronically.
  • Write thank-you notes to those who gave, whether financially or by teaching/leading a Sunday School class or small group, volunteering in a ministry, or helping at a church work-day.

 

These strategies cultivated a deeper understanding of church giving as a spiritual discipline.

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.

 

Most importantly, the mission of the church continued without disruption.

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. 

Rev. Dustin Cooper is a Senior Vice President and Partner with Horizons Stewardship. Having served the local church for over 25 years, Dustin enjoys working with pastors and church leaders to achieve their visions and create disciples for Jesus Christ. Email Dustin at dcooper@horizons.net.

 

 

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