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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RECENT Posts

How Giving Data Strengthens Your Discipleship Path

The key to sustainable ministry funding lies right at the heart of the mission of the church: helping persons become fully devoted followers of Christ.  When people take seriously their discipleship journey certain behaviors begin to change such as frequency in worship, serving on ministry teams, daily prayer, and giving of their financial resources. Giving and generosity are clear and measurable indicators of discipleship. It is no surprise that churches with an effective discipleship path tend to have substantially higher levels of ministry funding.

So, how do we strengthen our discipleship path? And how can giving data help us?

For years, churches have collected the data needed to measure the effectiveness of their discipleship paths. But getting that data into an actionable format from their Church Management Software (ChMS) is often a nightmare.

A couple of years ago, a tool was created to address this problem.  MortarStone developed a web-based tool that works with ChMS systems to organize the mountains of data that churches have stored in their databases.  MortarStone’s tools enable leaders of discipleship programs, missions teams, stewardship committees, and pastoral care to easily and directly access the information they need while still protecting sensitive donor information.

With a growing emphasis on measuring impact, churches are realizing it’s not enough to simply count activities and participants as the primary measures of a successful discipleship program. Individual generosity is, of course, a vital indicator of spiritual growth and a key element on the discipleship path.

Church leaders want to know if lasting transformation is taking place.

With MortarStone, churches can measure growth in individual generosity and connect it to the ministry activity that precipitated that change.  When churches understand what is working and what is not, they can reallocate resources to programs and ministries that are driving life change.

Here is a common example of using data to connect specific ministries with positive changes in key discipleship indicators.  An Executive Pastor compared the giving patterns of people who participated in small groups versus nonparticipants. The Executive Pastor discovered small group participants gave, on average, $2,133 more per year.  Based on the apparent impact of the small group ministry on the discipleship path, the church chose to invest $75,000 in new staffing to support small group ministries. Assuming a similar result for future small group participants, the church reasoned only 35 additional households were needed to cover the investment in staffing.

But this example is just the tip of the iceberg.

Church data can be used to track the impact of ministries such as Financial Peace University, serving ministries, and others. Want to know the impact of a recent mission trip? Curious about the effectiveness of your new member class or stewardship series? Want to know the differences in giving between your campus locations or worship services? With MortarStone giving data analysis, churches can effectively organize information and measure impact to make data-driven decisions regarding future ministry investments.

This technology exists to take the guesswork out of measuring the effectiveness of your discipleship path. By using increases in household giving as evidence of the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, churches can now make better decisions regarding programming and resource allocation.

As people deepen their walk with Christ through worship, spiritual growth, and service, the harvest of your generosity plan grows exponentially because you are cultivating in richer spiritual soil.

Joe Park is Horizons’ Managing Partner. Horizons is a national leader in guiding churches to increased funding, mission fulfillment, and transformation. 

Stewardship Discovery is our comprehensive diagnostic process used to assess giving practices in the development and implementation of plans to increase personal giving in churches. If you would like to learn more about developing a generosity plan for your church or using data to improve discipleship, please contact me at jpark@horizons.net or visit horizons.net.

This article originally appeared in Church Executive Best Practices Forum on Fundraising and Generosity.

How to Make Sure Your First-Time Donors Repeat Their Gift

The Law of Inertia states an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by an external force. The same tends to be true about church donors. Church members who do not contribute are challenging to inspire. When someone donates for the first-time, it is cause for celebration! However, knowing how and when to respond to a first-time gift will ensure a repeat donation. Repeat donors will provide significant resources that enable your church to fulfill its vision. Here’s what to do.

Why don’t first-time donors repeat their gift?

Some of your church members will finally take the plunge and make a first-time gift to the church. (For insights on why 50% of church members don’t contribute, click here.) Sometimes, it is the only gift they ever make and you might never know why.  After significant study, non-profit researchers learned the number one reason first-time donors never make a second contribution. Can you guess what it is?

It’s not because they were ignored. Sending a personal thank you is recommended, however, it is not the most important factor in receiving a repeat gift.

It is not because they felt their gift was wasted or unnecessary. At the beginning stages of giving, people aren’t typically concerned about the stewardship of their gifts.

It’s not even because they lost interest in the organization. Their interest in the community doesn’t disappear overnight. Their interest in your ministry may continue, but they chose not to give again.

So, why do some first-time donors never repeat their gift?

 

The number one reason first-time donors don’t make a second gift — they were asked for a second gift BEFORE being thanked for the first one.

Receiving a sudden second solicitation can feel impersonal.

Likely we have all had this experience of being asked for another gift too soon after making a first-time donation. Charities seize the opportunity to ask for a gift because they think, based on your gift, you are sympathetic to their cause. As soon as your check lands on the Executive Director’s desk, another solicitation arrives in your mailbox. It feels impersonal and greedy.

Has this happened in your church? It shouldn’t.

We are the Church! We are all about love, and grace, and gratitude (among other things.)  Expressing gratitude lets donors know you care about them, not just their finances.

 

How you say thank you is as important as how you ask for support.

Your plan for acknowledging first-time donations should consider the following:

1) First-time givers should receive a thank you note within a week of making the donation.

2) Your thank you note should include information about how donations are making an impact through your church. Connect their donation with the church’s ability to achieve its God-given vision.

3) Do not make a second ask in the letter — the letter is 100% gratitude.

 

Here is a sample thank you letter to first-time donors to get you started.

This blog was adapted from the original published 11/2/2017.

4 Reasons People Choose Not to Give and What to Do About It

“I have some good news and bad news.  The good news is the church has enough money to pay its bills.  The bad news is that money is still in people’s pockets.” This preacher joke isn’t new, and neither is its message. Not many people in your church are giving. If people would just give, then the church really would have enough money, right?

In a typical church, about 50% of the households do not contribute financially…including many who are actively engaged in the church community. Why do active church families choose not to give?

 

Here are 4 reasons people aren’t giving.

1 – Personal Debt

In May 2017, people had more debt than they did at the start of the recession.  Student loan debt has doubled and both car loans and credit card debt have grown significantly.  Debt reduces people’s capacity to be generous to the church. For more on the impact of personal debt on church giving, click here.

What to do: Offer classes such as Financial Peace University to help people take positive steps to get their financial lives in order and eliminate their debt. The first step in increasing capacity for giving is to enable members to take control of their debt and become debt-free.

 

2 – Consumer Attitude

It is easy to buy into the message that stuff will bring more joy, more security, and more happiness. We buy bigger houses, newer cars, nicer toys (especially if technology is involved) and take bigger vacations.  Yet the joy is fleeting, the security short-lived, and the happiness elusive. To learn more about the struggle between allegiance to God versus money, read more here.

What to do: Invite people to participate in hands-on mission work. This type of involvement often adds a much-needed balance to a consumer attitude and enables people to turn their focus toward gratitude, joy, security, and happiness.

 

3 – Fear

Fear is a long-lasting consequence of the recession that continues to shape people’s attitudes. Many still feel anxious about the future and how it will impact them financially.  A common response to fear is to cling tightly to what you have.  There is a reason why a clenched fist is not an image associated with generosity.

What to do: Preach the message of hope that is found in one’s faith in Jesus Christ and provides a stronger foundation for life.

 

4 – Flawed Perceptions

Non-givers often have the impression that any sermon or conversation about giving is about the church’s need to pay its bills.  In addition, personal finances are just that—personal and not the church’s business.   They complain about the ‘annual money sermon’ or even ‘beg-a-thon’ and protest if the pastor knows what people give.  Though flawed, their perception is their reality. These misconceptions can lead to serious consequences.

What to do: Change the focus of your conversations around money and giving. Talk about people’s need to give rather than the church’s need to get. Share the message of transformation through generous giving and make giving about God.

If your church hopes to cultivate generosity and help people grow in their giving, address these real-life issues. By taking these positive steps, the day will come when that joke is no longer true!

The blog was updated from the original published 8/15/2017.

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