The Top 5 Ways To Accidentally Reduce Church Giving

by | August 29, 2017

In my over forty years of ministry, I have never heard a pastor say he/she has more money than the church needs. I have certainly found pastors who shared that their people were very generous or that they had out-given their budget, but never that they had too much. The mission is too big and the need is too great to not always need more. Yet every year I come across dozens of pastors and laypeople who are doing things that absolutely reduce church giving.

Are you doing things right now that are unintentionally reducing giving in your congregation?

Here are my top five:

 

1 – Emphasizing numerical targets versus missional objectives.

I have seen so many pastors encourage their people to give “an increase,” “do 3% more,” or “help us balance the budget.” The facts are that people today just do not care whether you achieve some arbitrary target or not. They want their gift to have impact and change lives. Spend your energy sharing with people how their giving to the church will make the world a better place.

2 – Publishing church giving figures in the bulletin and/or newsletter.

This sends a signal to all that this is what you really are about. You are wanting to bring in more than you send out. It says nothing about your mission and it usually appears to reflect an unhealthy church because you are behind for the year. Facts are 90% of all churches are behind until December. It is normal, not a sign of impending death. Just stop doing it.

3 – Using a line item budget to communicate with the congregation.

There is nothing about a line item budget that helps your people understand what you are truly doing in ministry. From appearances it seems that all that you are supporting are some people and a building. Line item budgets should be used only by the finance people. Distribute a missional budget to the congregation.

4 – Apologizing or joking prior to delivering sermons on money.

When Moses came down from the mountain and saw the golden calf that the people had made to worship, he did not make a joke about it or apologize for what he was about to say. He was forceful and direct and they knew he meant what he was saying. There was no misunderstanding that he considered this a very serious matter. They had put worshipping a golden calf ahead of worshipping God. Your people are doing this every day that they choose money over God. It is a big deal. People need your help to give up that which they love more than God. Quit acting like it really does not matter.

5 – Thinking that “not knowing” what people give is a righteous act.

For some reason pastors think people will think more of them if they deny themselves knowledge of individual gifts. This behavior will keep you from putting the right people in leadership, being able to diagnosis spiritual health in persons, and thanking people when they truly need and often expect thanks.

Now, go forth and quit doing those things that hurt the Kingdom!

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I love my church and all, but you are not the only Godly gig around.

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You want me to show you the money? OK… but you are going to have to show me some things too. I won’t be all in until you invite me all the way in. Remember, I am an investor in your vision. Help me see how my investment is making a difference.

By the way, I am not the one afraid of talking about investing. I am a grown-up, and I can handle a challenge. Let’s have a real conversation sometime.

 

Horizons welcomes Mick Tune as a guest contributor. Mick is a partner with Doug Turner and Bill McMillan at Culture of Ready, a partner with Horizons in the generosity movement. Reach out to Mick at mtune@horizons.net.

 

 

 

The Importance of Believing in the Great Commission

Stories about outrageous and extravagant generosity inspire me. Just a few weeks ago, an older woman told me how excited and privileged she felt about giving a generous gift to her church’s capital campaign. Vera went on to say, “The truth is Scott, I probably won’t live to see the results. I’m not going to be around much longer.” For Vera, the importance of her gift was not in its impact during her lifetime, but rather the impact it would have on the church in the future. The gift Vera gave would empower her church to act on The Great Commission.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

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A recent poll by Barna Research asked churchgoers, “Have you heard of the Great Commission?” Here are the results:

 

It may be surprising to see that 51% answered, “No.”  It is hard to understand why the majority is unfamiliar with the core mission of the church. However, the research points to a potentially more significant and troubling question–Do churchgoers believe their church makes a lasting and eternal difference in peoples’ lives?  If we truly believe the church and its teachings make a difference, then we are inspired to share our faith and the Great Commission has meaning.

If we don’t believe the Church matters, then the

Great Commission makes no difference.

I met with a church group that was considering a building project. The church told me they were packed with no room for growth. Space was so tight, they decided they couldn’t advertise or invite people to church. The group had called me there to help them decide whether or not they should “do something” about their overcrowded space.  I asked the group, “What would you think about a person who knew the cure for cancer and decided to keep it to himself?” With great indignation, they replied, “That would be criminal!”

 

Then I asked them, “Do you or do you not have the cure for a hurting and broken world? If you do, how can you keep it to yourselves?”

 

Outrageous and extravagant generosity occurs when we truly believe we have the antidote for the diseases that afflict our world. The Great Commission matters when people believe in the importance of sharing the good news of God’s love and grace with the world.

 

So what do we do?

  • Continually and consistently tell stories of how your church’s ministries are making a difference. In every church communication, including your bulletin, newsletter, website, and Facebook page, tell stories of how people’s lives are being changed by your ministry. And if you can’t come up with life-changing stories, it’s time to take a hard look at your ministries and evaluate the quality of your response to the Great Commission.

 

  • Consider a Bible study or sermon series on the book of Acts. Explore the birth and explosive growth of the early church as they lived the Great Commission.   One small church in West Virginia experienced an amazing revival when they spent six months reading and studying the book of Acts. By the end of the study they passionately believed that although they were small, their community desperately needed what they had to offer. And guess what … giving exploded.

 

 

Would you like to experience outrageous extravagant giving in your church? Rather than talking about spreadsheets, budgets and bills, focus on how your church is responding to the Great Commission. How is your church reaching people to share the Good News? How do your ministries demonstrate your mission of sharing Christ with the world? Be willing to ask, “Do we really believe we have the answer to a world that is broken, hurting and afraid?” If the answer is yes, tell your story and get ready for outrageous, extravagant giving! If the answer is no, start looking for the for sale sign.

 

How to Conquer Your Fear of the Ask

Most people are downright terrified to ask other people for money. Asking for money seems intrusive, awkward, impolite and uncomfortable. Asking for money can be intimidating, but changing your approach can make it easier—and even fun!

 

Here are 5 tips for conquering your fear of the ask

  1. Make your donation first.

When asking a donor to support a cause, be sure you are already on the record as having given your support. After all, how can you ask someone to do something you have not already done yourself? Your enthusiasm and commitment should be demonstrated through your early gift to the cause. Your leadership will be an indication to others that the cause is important and worthy of funding. Before asking others, it is essential that your donation (or pledge) has already been made.

  1. Never apologize.

If the conversation begins with, “I’m sorry to be asking you this but…” then you shouldn’t be making the ask. Why would you insult a prospective donor by apologizing for asking? If the cause is not worthy of their donation, then you shouldn’t be requesting it. Before making an ask, consider why you have made a contribution (if you haven’t make a contribution, see #1). Why is this cause important and how will it benefit the church’s mission? Instead of apologizing, you should be conveying the transformational nature of the mission for which you are requesting funds. Begin by sharing your excitement about how this project will result in the advancement of God’s vision for your church.

  1. Don’t downplay expectations.

Asking people to give a little something will result in a little gift. Big visions require committed leadership and, often, significant resources. Donors want to know what it will take to make the project successful and what you want from them. If you sugar coat your ask in an attempt to be more polite, your donor will be confused, frustrated, and likely uninvolved. Be sure to prepare for your conversation in advance and let the donor know exactly what is planned, what is needed, and how you are asking them to respond.

  1. Engage people in prayer.

As Christ’s disciples, we believe generous giving is a crucial component of the discipleship path. As stewards of God’s gifts, we believe God is the giver of all blessings and it is up to us to determine how God would have us use them. Donors should be encouraged to pray about how to use the resources God has provided, and regardless of the size of the gift, listening for God’s leading is vital to the ask.

  1. Make it about the donor.

If you don’t read any of the other 5, please read this one carefully. Be sure you prepare well in advance and understand the donor’s wishes. What are the donor’s passions? What other causes does the donor support? How will this gift fulfill the donor’s philanthropic desires? Give careful consideration to whether the request is appropriate for the donor. Is the amount being requested within the scope of what the donor is able or willing to consider? Has the donor made similar gifts in the past to you or to another organization?

 

If you have the right attitude and are well prepared, the ask should be a time of celebration. The ask is an opportunity to connect eager donors with projects that meet their philanthropy goals. If you’ve done your job well, they will thank you for the opportunity to be a part of it.

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