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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Register for our Rich Church, Poor Church Seminar by Oct 2

Rich Church, Poor Church – Keys to Effective Financial Ministry Seminar

with Dr. J. Clif Christopher

 

Registration Due by Oct. 2

 

If you have ever struggled with how to grow generosity in your church, you won’t want to miss one of these two upcoming one-day stewardship seminars.

You and your team will receive valuable insights and knowledge of best practices from Clif Christopher, founder and president of Horizons Stewardship. Clif is the author of several stewardship books and is a sought-after speaker on this important topic. This seminar has received the endorsement of Bishop Trimble and is co-sponsored by the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana.

More details can be found by clicking here or the clicking the “View Event Flyer” button below, including the very economical pricing for individuals and teams ($100 maximum/church).

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Ways to Increase Donor Motivation

172

 

That is how many times I have donated blood. My first donation was through a blood drive when I was in college. It was a relatively painless experience and home-made cookies were offered as motivation! I started donating after that, but for years I did so sporadically.  At some point, I learned my blood type was O negative, a classification fitting only 7% of the population. As a universal blood donor, anyone in a medical emergency could receive my blood. After a brief uptick in my donations, life interfered and my motivation to donate waned.

When I was making my 50th or so donation, I learned something else. In addition to being O negative, I am also CMV negative.  Blood with these two qualities is the only type that can be given to newborn babies. As a donor, I am referred to as a “baby quad” because one pint of my blood can be divided and given to four different babies! After I knew this, I began to make the effort to donate every six weeks. I did this for a time until life got busy again.

Eventually, donating felt more like a duty than a joy and my motivation dwindled.

 

Months would pass without a donation. Finally, after several reminder phone calls from the blood center, I scheduled a time to donate. On the morning before my donation, I spoke with someone on the phone and happened to mention I was giving blood later that day. When I revealed, I am a “baby quad,” the voice on the other end got quiet. After a brief pause, through tears, she said, “Thank you.”   She explained that a few months earlier she had given birth and her baby daughter had required over a dozen blood transfusions. And then she said, “My daughter is alive today because people like you are willing to donate their blood.”

 

That moment reminded me of the reason I donate: giving blood truly is the “gift of life.”

 

Regardless of the type of donation, the primary motivation for giving is belief in the mission the gift supports. Knowing that my blood donation could help save the lives of newborn babies inspired me to donate again! It is up to church leaders to help donors connect the dots between their gift to the church and the church’s ability to do life-changing ministry. Showing your donors how their gifts are making a difference in the world will motivate them to give again.

Here are some ways to increase donor motivation.

  • Keep your mission front and center as a reminder of the importance of giving. The mission of your church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Do not assume everyone understands this single purpose. A recent study by Barna found that 51% of churchgoers state they have never heard of the Great Commission.
  • Have a clear and compelling vision that lifts up the unique ways your church is living out its mission in your context.  Without a clear vision, the church can become inwardly focused and self-serving. A clear vision has the power to shape and connect everything that the church does, both uniting and energizing the congregation in its life and purpose.
  • Create a Vision Statement that is simple and easy to memorize. State it regularly in sermons, in the liturgy, on communication platforms, and on the website.  In 10 Prescriptions for a Healthy Church, author Bishop Bob Farr says “I have never seen a church grow by hanging a mission and vision statement on the wall. On the other hand, I have never seen a growing congregation that didn’t deeply understand their mission and vision.”
  • Share stories of lives impacted and changed through your ministries. It is interesting to learn that 15 or 30 or 100 students went on a mission trip. But it is inspiring to hear one story of how a student’s faith was impacted by that experience. It is rousing to hear a story from someone whose life was changed forever by those students. Facts and data inform the mind but stories touch the heart. Donor motivation requires both.

Help donors stay motivated by connecting their generosity with your mission.

  • Preach on the theology of money and giving. While people will not contribute to the church because it needs money to pay its bills, they will be moved by a biblical message that shapes values and offers guidance on how they can faithfully use their resources.
  • Express gratitude. While receiving thanks may not be the only reason why people give, donors do want to feel their gifts are appreciated. A personal thank-you note is an opportunity to let your supporters know you value them and what they do. Gratitude is key to donor motivation.

 

It was just a simple, heartfelt “Thank you,” but it reminded me of the importance of my donation and reconnected me to the joy of giving. Maybe those who support your church need a reminder as well.

 

Donation #173 is already on my calendar.

 

 

 

To access Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click here to sign up for Giving365.

 

Horizons Announces the Addition of Dr. Rhodes Logan to the Team

Horizons is delighted to announce that Dr. Rhodes Logan, former Chief Development Officer for the United Methodist Church Development Center, has joined the Horizons team.

 

As the CDO, Rhodes oversaw the development activities of eight ministries of the United Methodist Church including annual, capital, and planned giving. Rhodes is an experienced development professional having also raised funds as a Campaign Director for the University of Tennessee and as the Director of Development for the United Way (Knoxville and Oak Ridge) and Carson-Newman University.

 

Through his ministry, Rhodes discovered his passion for working with local churches and religious non-profits. As a Vice President and Ministry Strategist with Horizons, he will continue to capably guide his clients to achieve funding for their missional objectives. Dr. Logan’s expertise spans all areas of development including capital campaigns, major gift solicitations, planned giving, annual giving programs, and development communications. The transformation of individuals and, in turn, the body of Christ, drives and inspires Rhodes’ development ministry.

 

Horizons’ founder, Clif Christopher says, “In my twenty-five years guiding Horizons, I do not think I have ever seen someone with the diverse skill set that Rhodes brings to the team. Not only is he highly committed to the mission of the Church, but he also brings a high-level of skill in all phases of capital acquisition. He joins Horizons as a proven professional.”

 

Horizons’ Managing Partner, Joe Park stated, “Rhodes began his development career in secular higher education but has followed his heart into serving the church at the General Board and conference levels and with faith-based non-profits like Africa University.  Now through Horizons, he brings his formidable skills to serve the local church as well.  We are thrilled to welcome Rhodes Logan to the Horizons Stewardship team!”

 

Dr. Logan can be reached at rlogan@horizons.net.

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