Five Giving Trends in Today’s Church

Much about church giving is changing. Worship attendance, conversions, and baptisms are often the most scrutinized metrics, but giving trends are close behind. Below are five macro trends that are affecting most churches in the United States.

Trend 1: Millennials will have less giving potential than their parents. Unless an unexpected economic shift occurs, Millennials will continue to be poorer than their parents. Numerous reasons are the cause. Tuition at colleges has tripled since 1980, even after adjusting for inflation. Household income has risen four times more quickly with the older generations than with Millennials. The federal government now spends almost $7 on programs for seniors for every $1 spent per capita on programs for children. The young poor are getting poorer. The chart below demonstrates that poverty was largely among the older generation prior to the 1970s. Now poverty is largely among the younger generation. The Millennials will make less—perhaps much less—than previous generations, which means their giving capacity as a whole will be less.

Trend 2: Giving will be more concentrated at the largest churches. The biggest 10% of churches hold about 50% of all monies given to congregations, and this concentration is intensifying as more and more people are going to larger churches. In the future, larger churches will continue to garner more of the total resources given to churches. Many will bemoan, if not outright condemn, this trend. I understand the sentiment. However, I believe any church—large or small—can be a resource giant.

Trend 3: Independent funding mechanisms will increase in popularity. The ubiquity of the Internet creates a climate in which anyone can be connected to everyone. Smart phones make this connectivity mobile. Churches no longer need a denomination to create a system of connectivity for funding ministries and missions. Are there reasons a church should stay with a denomination for funding missions or other ministries? Yes, but needing a system of connectivity is no longer one of them.

The problem is many leaders within denominations have continued to champion “the system” of funding even though churches don’t need it any more. At the same time, denominational loyalties are in decline, which exacerbates the declines in giving to denominational work. Additionally, operating costs are increasing in local congregations—it’s more expensive to run a church than it used to be. The result of these factors converging is the rise of independent funding mechanisms. I can more easily support my friend serving in Rwanda than I can my denomination, and I have more of a personal connection to her anyway. I like her Facebook page, not my denomination’s Facebook page (actually, my denomination doesn’t even have one!). I get personal emails from her, not leaders in my denomination.

Trend 4: Giving patterns in churches are becoming less consistent. People are still giving, just not asconsistently to churches. In fact, churches are getting less of total charitable giving. Overall, charitable giving is on the rise in the United States, but churches are receiving a smaller portion. In 1987, religious organizations received 53% of all charitable donations. In 2014, religious organizations received only 32% of all charitable giving, a 30-year dramatic downward slide.

Trend 5: Digital giving is the future. Mobile devices now account for over half of all Internet traffic. Digital giving is the future. And to some degree, it’s a discipleship issue. The spiritual discipline of giving will become completely digital in the future. Gifts of pure gold became coinage. Coinage became paper money. Paper money became checks. Checks are already going digital, especially with younger generation. Digital giving tools help people with the spiritual discipline of giving.

Many pastors feel a shift occurring in their churches. Their intuitions tell them the future of church giving will be different. Perhaps your instinct leads you to believe giving patterns are changing in your church. Most likely, your instincts are correct. These five macro trends, in particular, are affecting many churches and will continue to do so in the future.

This post is an excerpt from a research article I wrote for Church Answers. It’s part of a premier coaching ministry with Thom Rainer.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 New Approaches to Talking about Generosity

So let me guess, every time you need to talk about money in church, you wince.

And you’re the leader.

I know, because I’ve been there.

If you’re going to be effective in ministry, you have to become comfortable talking about money.

Yet few church leaders I know are.

Here’s why.

When you talk about money, it’s like you’re setting yourself up to be shot at. You almost always take bullets when you talk about money, even when you speak about it as earnestly, biblically and honestly as you know how.

As a result, many pastors avoid the subject and only talk about it if there’s a financial crisis looming for the church.

That’s the biggest mistake you can make. It sets no one up to win: not the church, not your people, and not you as a leader.

But you have to talk about it. Why? Because there’s so much at stake if you don’t.

Pastors who refuse to talk about money can ultimately leave both their churches and their people broke.

The message we continually hear from the culture around us leads people to overextension on things that matter little in the end and can also result in dissolving families (see below).

It’s Not Hopeless…Really

I know what it’s like to lead with very meager resources as well as what it’s like to lead with more.

When I began in ministry, three small churches called me to be their pastor.

The annual budget for one of the churches was $4,000. No, I’m not kidding. No, there are no missing zeros. Added together, the budget of all three churches was less than $50,000 for the year. The doors were almost closing.

But seeing resources freed up for ministry has made a big difference. More than 2,500 people now call our church home, and we see over 1,000 of them every weekend. Today our church is vibrant, healthy and alive (and I’m so thankful for that).

What’s even better is how we’ve seen people who attend our church become financially healthy in their personal life and as that’s happened, millions of dollars have been freed for ministry.

But to get there, you have to get over your fear of talking about money.

7 Fresh Ways To Get Over Your Fear Of Talking About Money In Church

One of the best ways to talk about money is to realize why you need to talk about it. And the why will lead you to the how…giving you content for your messages and for other strategies as you connect with people.

Here are 7 fresh ways to get over your fear of talking about money in church:

1. Realize The People You Lead Talk About Money Every Day

Think about it. Do you know a person who doesn’t talk about money in some way every day?

There’s not a family in your church or community that doesn’t have some kind of daily dialogue about money.

People talk about it, argue about it, and try to make their plans around it.

Almost everyone in your church and community thinks about money daily and talks about it daily. They may even struggle with it daily. It’s just that few people step up to help them with it.

As a result, people talk about money in a theological vacuum because few church leaders will talk about it.

So start talking about it.

2. View Talking About Money As Pastoral Care

Could it be that your reluctance to talk about money is costing people their marriages?

Reports continue to show that money issues are a top reason families break up.

In a culture of plenty burdened by massive personal debt and a lack of fulfilment around money, families are looking for hope and help.

If the church won’t help people figure out how to handle their personal finances, who will?

The scripture is packed with practical advice and missional claim on personal finances that can literally change people’s lives.

Why hold out on people? Who will bring them help or hope if you don’t?

3. Help People Plan Their Financial Future, Not Just Yours

Addressing money in your church shouldn’t just be about yourneeds in ministry.

Too many leaders only think about their church’s need when it comes to money. Wise leaders think about their congregation’s needs when it comes to money.

If you help people plan their personal financial future, you’ll have a better future as a church.

The tagline we came up with a few years ago is that we want people to live with margin and live on mission.

I started telling people I wanted them to pay cash for their next vacation, to save for their children’s education, to save for retirement, to create an emergency fund and to live generously.

I think people were shocked that a preacher a) wanted them to take a vacation, b) wanted them to pay cash for it,  c) offered a program to help them realize their financial goals and d) didn’t expect all their money to go to the church.

One of the best things we’ve done in the last 5 years has been taking hundreds of adults and students through the Financial Learning Experience. It’s a two-hour forum designed to help people master the basics of financial planning and realize their dreams. There are follow up small groups and individual coaching you can also offer.

My joy as a leader is to see hundreds of people paying cash for their vacations, saving for their kids’ education, saving for retirement AND giving generously to the Kingdom.

But that only happens if you want something FOR people, not just something FROM them.

4. Understand You’re Slaying A Giant Idol

If the world (and church) have an idol, money is a prime candidate.

So know up front you’re going to get push back when you address it. But if you help people with their finances as a ministry and steward the money that’s received appropriately, you will help break the power of an idol in our culture and church.

When you attack an idol, prepare for a counter-attack.

It’s easier not to fall victim to the criticism or internal battles that the attack brings when you realize the attack is coming.

5. Tap Into The Desire Most People Have To Be Generous

Most people want to be generous. They just need help with how.

When you can’t make your minimum credit card payments, even a $20 donation to the food bank seems out of reach.

When you help people get their finances in order, generosity can be unleashed. And more people want to be generous than you think. They just need help getting there.

6. Your Vision And Stewardship Must Be Worth The Sacrifice People Make

When people give, you receive a measure of trust from both people and from God.

You need to steward and manage the money well. Things like a third party independent annual audit (which is expensive, but worth it) should be the norm.

And your vision and mission should be compelling and up to the challenge.

People don’t give generously to uninspiring or poorly stewarded visions.

7. Unchurched People Are More Open To Conversations About Money Than You Realize

Because most of our growth comes from unchurched people, I hear this all the time: “But what about unchurched people? Don’t they cringe when churches talk about money?”

Sure, sometimes. But see points 1-3 above. Surprisingly, unchurched people love to talk about money when they realize you’re ready to help them.

In my experience, the people who raise the most fuss when it comes to talking about money in the church are long-time church attenders who don’t give much.

I can’t prove that statistically, but it resonates with my experience and intuition.

Don’t let the people who never give ruin your ministry to people who want to give.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

You Can’t Outgive God

God came up with the idea of multiplication.

If you give him your time, he multiplies it. If you give him your money, he multiplies it. If you give him your talent, he multiplies it. If you give him your energy, guess what? He multiplies it.

It’s the same principle as planting seeds. Second Corinthians 9:10 says, “God gives seed to the farmer . . . God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval” (GW).

Think about that: God will increase the things you do that have his approval.

Farmers know that seed must be given away for it to increase. If you keep seed in a sack, it doesn’t do any good. But when you plant it, it multiplies. When you plant one corn seed, do you just get one corn seed back? No, you get a stalk with hundreds of corn kernels. When you plant one watermelon seed, do you only get one seed back? No, you get a bunch of watermelons with hundreds of seeds in them. God multiplies whatever little bit you give him.

“Remember that the person who plants few seeds will have a small crop. But the one who plants many seeds will have a large crop. God loves the person who gives cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 AP) That’s because God gives cheerfully and he wants us to be like him.

The story of Saddleback Church cannot be told without telling of the thousands of people who sacrificed financially to make the church possible. Our campus with all of its buildings didn’t just happen. Somebody sacrificed for them. People chose to give their money instead of buying things for themselves—just to make it happen.

One of the great lessons that Kay and I have learned over our years of ministry is that you cannot outgive God.

Whatever you give him, he takes and multiplies. This was a lesson we learned on a personal level. Three different times in our marriage God told us to give away our entire savings. Each time we obeyed, God would replenish it in greater ways than ever before.

In December 1987, we had to close the deal on the land for Saddleback Church. Our people had given over a million dollars, but we were still short on that last day. I thought, “God, we’re so close and our people have sacrificed beyond measure. This is the last day before we lose the property. You’re not going to let us get this close and let us fall. What are you going to do?”

Before that day was out we received a letter from a man who’d only visited Saddleback one time. He didn’t even live in Orange County. His note said, “I believe in the vision of Saddleback Church.” And in that letter was a check for a quarter-million dollars. We were able to close the deal and get the land.

God’s timing is perfect. That was the last business day of 1987. The first business day of 1988 that man—who was a banker—went to the bank and his trustees called a special meeting. They didn’t know he’d just given us a quarter-million dollars. They called him in and said, “We’ve had a record year with banner profits. We’re going to give you a one-time bonus.” And 10 days after he’d given this church a quarter-million dollars, they gave him a one-time bonus of $750,000.

He called me on the phone. “Rick, you cannot outgive God! I keep trying, but it doesn’t work.”

When I told this story to the Saddleback congregation, I said, “Don’t you wish you’d given a quarter-million dollars?”

The Bible promises, “You won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed his home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children – whatever – will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!” (Luke 18:29-30 The Message).

That’s a promise of Jesus Christ directly from his lips. “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).

> Read more from Rick.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Church Generosity Can Impact Your Community

How can we ensure our giving helps those in need instead of hurting them? 

Americans continue to give to charitable organizations at a record pace. Charitable giving in 2015 was over $373 billion, according to The Giving Institute, surpassing the previous year’s amount by over four percent.

Religious giving is the top category in that total, with over $119 billion given. While much of that amount goes to internal church operations, a large percentage goes to help individuals and groups “in need.”

It’s that last phrase – “in need” – that has come under scrutiny in recent years, as churches consider how their giving to others is actually impacting their lives.

Is it possible that much of the money we give is either wasted or actually harming the people it is intended to help?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

When Helping Hurts is a paradigm-forming contemporary classic on the subject of poverty alleviation.

Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good.

But it looks ahead. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone, to empower the materially poor, and to know that we are all uniquely needy—and that God in the gospel is reconciling all things to Himself.

Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts provides proven strategies for effective poverty alleviation, catalyzing the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The American church exists in the most prosperous and materialistic society in the world. Because of that, the church often thinks of poverty as a lack of material things – money, food, clothing, and shelter.

As a result, many think the way to alleviate poverty is to simply give material things to low-income people: money for bills, food and toys during the Christmas season, and warm clothing during cold winters. These are often presented as immediate needs, and we respond by taking care of the problem.

Or does it? In most cases, what has been taken care of is a symptom, not the underlying problem facing the individual. Repeated over long periods of time, these “charitable” actions often create crippling dependencies. To be most effective, churches need to move past the immediate and correctly diagnose the deeper causes of material poverty.

Truly helping the material poor typically requires a much greater commitment of time, resources, and energy than the common method of simply giving them handouts. Truly helping the material poor means you have to look for ways to move away from practices that create dependency and toward approaches that promote long-term positive changes.

Poor people in North America could benefit from all the following: 1) the ability to work at jobs with living wages; 2) the capacity to manage their money; and 3) the opportunity to accumulate wealth. Moreover, like all of us, poor people need the highly relational ministries – delivered through the body of Jesus Christ – that help them to overcome the effects of the fall on their individual heart, minds, and behaviors.

Employment, financial management, and wealth accumulation are all part of the “economic development” sector of poverty alleviation. While each of the economic interventions discussed play unique roles, they are similar in that they all:

Use development rather than relief, because the vast majority of poor people in North America are capable of participating in the improvement of their lives.

Improves some aspect of the economic system or enable poor people to use the existing system more effectively;

Use an asset-based approach that builds upon the skills, intelligence, labor, discipline, savings, creativity, and courage of poor people;

Have the potential to be designed, implemented, and evaluated in a participatory manner;

Provide an opportunity to use biblically abase curricula, allowing for a clear presentation of the gospel and addressing of worldview issues;

Use church-based mentoring teams that can offer love, support, and encouragement, thereby providing a relational approach that seeks to restore people’s dignity, community, stewardship, and spiritual intimacy;

Are implemented over fairly long periods of time, thereby creating space for “development,” the process of ongoing change and reconciliation, for both the “helpers” and the “”

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts

A NEXT STEP

Think about ways your church has been working with poor people. How have you been fostering triggers for positive change or undermining them?

What has been your church’s history of using a team of supportive people to help individuals and families to change? What are some things you have learned? If you are not using teams of supportive people, what could you do to change this?

Ask any Christian business people you know if they would be willing to provide an employment opportunity to a poor person. Find out what steps you could take as a church to make this idea more palatable to these businesspeople.

Could your church provide temporary employment to poor people by opportunities to do yard work, cleaning, repairs, etc.?

Consider getting additional training for your congregation on jobs preparedness, financial education, and wealth accumulation ministries.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 59-3, February 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Perspective on Generosity that Engages Heart and Mind

How can we ensure our giving helps those in need instead of hurting them? 

Americans continue to give to charitable organizations at a record pace. Charitable giving in 2015 was over $373 billion, according to The Giving Institute, surpassing the previous year’s amount by over four percent.

Religious giving is the top category in that total, with over $119 billion given. While much of that amount goes to internal church operations, a large percentage goes to help individuals and groups “in need.”

It’s that last phrase – “in need” – that has come under scrutiny in recent years, as churches consider how their giving to others is actually impacting their lives.

Is it possible that much of the money we give is either wasted or actually harming the people it is intended to help?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Charity Detox by Robert D. Lupton

The veteran urban activist and author of the revolutionary Toxic Charity returns with a headline-making book that offers proven, results-oriented ideas for transforming our system of giving.

In Toxic Charity, Robert D. Lupton revealed the truth about modern charity programs meant to help the poor and disenfranchised. While charity makes donors feel better, he argued, it often hurts those it seeks to help. At the forefront of this burgeoning yet ineffective compassion industry are American churches, which spend billions on dependency-producing programs, including food pantries. But what would charity look like if we, instead, measured it by its ability to alleviate poverty and needs?

That is the question at the heart of Charity Detox. Drawing on his many decades of experience, Lupton outlines how to structure programs that actually improve the quality of life of the poor and disenfranchised. He introduces many strategies that are revolutionizing what we do with our charity dollars, and offers numerous examples of organizations that have successfully adopted these groundbreaking new models. Only by redirecting our strategies and becoming committed to results, he argues, can charity enterprises truly become as transformative as our ideals.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Robert Lupton again addresses the idea that much of current charity work, while done with the right intention, misses the mark of actually helping the recipients. He sums up Charity Detox with these sentences: “We cannot serve people out of poverty. Yet our massive service industry is based upon this false premise.”

In this book Lupton asks us one of the most important questions concerning our charity efforts: Do we care about results?

In other words: Are we interested in seeing families thrive or are we just interested in distributing resources to them? Are we content measuring volunteer activity or do we actually want to measure outcomes?

Dr. Lupton, speaking from 40 years of experience in neighborhoods experiencing poverty, is compassionate enough to tell us the bad news about traditional models of charity – they are not moving the poverty needle. People, families, and communities are not being moved out of poverty through our service efforts, programs, and mission trips.

Understanding this truth should change the way churches evaluate and respond to the needs in communities they are attempting to minister to. If we are not rooted in people’s lives and in the contexts in which they live, then we are always going to be limited in how we understand the path ahead. The way we label the problems, define solutions, and build strategies will miss the critical elements that only the long, hard, work that neighboring will reveal.

In order to transform the neighborhoods where the poor live, we must reweave the very fabric of the community. There is a powerful impact that becoming neighbors can have on a community.

Three Rs of Community Development

Reneighboring

Without connected, involved, resourced neighbors, no neighborhood can thrive. Without a transfusion of new blood, troubled communities will continue to deteriorate as the capable exit in pursuit of better opportunities. An infusion of new life, rich with creativity, teeming with fresh ideas an energy, abundant with capacity – this is what invigorates a community.

Reconciliation

While the relocation required by reneighboring is the most radical R, reconciliation is the most challenging – though also potentially the most rewarding. Reconciliation involves reaching across the barriers of race, class, and culture, receiving as well as giving, and learning to respect and trust those from whom we have been estranged. When community works, when the neighborhood is blessed with a leaving of reconcilers, that very diversity gives life richness and flavor.

Redistribution

Exchange might be a better word to describe this outcome, because exchange assumes that everyone has something of value to contribute to the life of a community. Redistribution is the natural outcome of being neighbors in a diverse community. Because neighbors live in proximity to one another – and because they choose to depend on one another – the opportunities for exchange (redistribution) become a normal part of community living.

Robert D. Lupton, Charity Detox

A NEXT STEP

Identify those in your congregation that have the greatest opportunity to live out the three R’s. Look for individuals already living in diverse neighborhoods. Once you identify them, bring them together to start robust dialogue around the three “R’s”. Chances are they are either being very intentional about their community, they see it as something they need to escape, or they are unaware. Bringing them together on a regular basis for peer support, dialogue, idea exchange, and simply making the church more aware could reshape your culture.

There are different ways we measure success as church leaders: input, output, and impact measures. Are you looking at charitable giving and service as simply something you are giving to (impact) and measuring by how many people served, how many meals provided, etc. (output)? Or, does your church measure the impact it is having on the community or surrounding city?

Leverage this team to make a list of the sociological, relational, or spiritual needs in your community. Instead of looking at this through the lens of input or output, indicate which needs your church could most easily focus upon and see an impact. Outline key next steps to take and move forward with intentionality.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 59-2, February 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Lessons about Church Giving that Amazon Can Teach Us

Way back in the mid-1990s there were a lot of companies gunning to be the leader in “online retailing.” (Who remembers Pets.com?) Amazon was an early leader. Since then, it has cemented its place as the “everything store” by offering a massive selection of items that are delivered at a shockingly quick rate.

Google is the search engine for knowledge. Amazon is the search engine for purchasing. 

In fact, 44% of all online shoppers go directly to Amazon to make purchases. [ref] When people give, our churches’ digital giving interfaces are being compared to Amazon’s. We need to learn about how this e-commerce retailer handles their customers and apply those lessons to our donors.

  • Reduce Friction // Have you ever noticed how easy it is to purchase something on Amazon? Over the years, they have focused on reducing the friction in the online shopping experience to encourage more people to spend with them. It’s beautiful to watch all the various pieces working together. Amazon Prime removes the “added shipping cost” from the “shopping cart” so we don’t slow down at check-out. They store multiple credit cards so you can decide where you want to charge individual purchases. The Amazon Dash buttons allow you to push a button and have common items ordered and shipped to you. The latest tool, Amazon Echo, literally allows you to call out orders from your home and they’ll ship them to you! Is your online giving system complex and hard to follow? Are you asking people to go through extra hoops that add to your convenience but to their annoyance? Is it easy to find how to give to your church on your website?
  • Send More Emails // If you are a regular Amazon shopper, you get a tremendous amount of email from them. Every time you order, you receive a confirmation email, a “your order is shipped email” and an “order arrived” email. You also receive regular marketing emails about categories of products they believe you might be interested in. If you browse certain items but don’t purchase them, Amazon will send you “recall” emails to bring you back to the site to purchase the item you were thinking about. You might not like all this email … but it works. It drives the behavior they are looking for. Most churches don’t send enough email. They are afraid to junk up inboxes. I’m not advocating sending the same amount as Amazon — just yesterday I received 8 emails and I didn’t purchase anything! — but I am saying churches need to send more. Obviously an acknowledgment email … but what about monthly statements rather than waiting for quarterly ones? Emails that show the impact of giving, or ones that show how people can set up a new aspect of online giving? These may move people from regular “one-time gifts” to “recurring donations.” Send more emails … it’s okay.
  • Invest in Long-Term Solutions // One of the things I admire about Amazon is their commitment to investing in long-term customer satisfaction rather than just chasing short-term trends. They have steadily sped up the delivery of their products over the years, reducing the time they call “click to ship” from days when they started to minutes in some instances today. This is an impressive feat for a company with 244 million customers. [ref] Investing in your digital giving solution is wise over the long haul. People are moving closer toward this approach than traditional donor channels from the past. It might take you a while to get it right, but people will be using this system for years. Gather your team and start working on this for your church. It’s not a short-term fad but a long-term shift that you need a solution for.
  • Don’t Miss Mobile // The Amazon app is a beautiful experience. It has a UPC scanner where you can walk into traditional “bricks and mortar” stores, scan items and compare the cost to purchase it on Amazon. I’ve purchased many items over the years after looking at them in the store and then buying them online. Mobile is the way people increasingly interact with the web. Your site needs to be “mobile optimized” so it works cleanly on a wide variety of phones, tablets and other interfaces that people carry around. In fact, your digital giving solution really should be seen from a “mobile first” perspective because all the trendlines are pointing toward that being where most people will interact with you.
  • Be Customer “Obsessed” // Amazon is crazy-obsessed with making people happy. They work hard to ensure customers love their service more than any other online store. It’s the first of their fourteen values and it permeates how they talk about and live out their mission. We know that when people give to your church, they are giving to what the Lord is doing — but sometimes it can feel like we ignore our donors out of a false sense of not wanting to show favoritism. Everyone who chooses to give anything to your church is vital to your mission. They are as important in making your services happen as that core volunteer who is “first in, last out” every Sunday. We go out of our way to treat volunteers with love and care … we need to do the same with our donors. On top of that, some of them have the spiritual gift of giving and, like other gifts, we want to see it exercised well within our churches. If we ignore people who give, we’ll miss the opportunity to develop those gifts!

Read more from Rich.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about Generosity in your church.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Non-Negotiables for Raising Funds for the Church

When it comes to raising funds for your church, consider the following three actions to be non-negotiable.

1. Trust in Leadership

Integrity is doing what you said you’d do and operating true to your stated mission. When people sense that men and women at the top are solid leaders, one of the chief obstacles to financial support is overcome. When leaders have character and consistently operate with professionalism and kindness, the likelihood of garnering support goes up. As well, leadership can exude a humble confidence that gives calm because of a steady hand at the helm of the ship.

Additionally, when there is demonstrated effort and hard work, it communicates the health of the organization from the top down. It says, “we are not presuming anything about your support – we know we have to work hard and demonstrate results or you will give your support to another worthy cause and we don’t blame you.” Financial audits also ensure the squeaky clean professionalism that is a must as well. All of these things show that the leaders can be trusted.

2. Clear and Compelling Vision

There are a few questions that need to be answered by any organization with absolutely clarity and unity. This is the classic elevator pitch – the idea that it if you cannot articulate your vision in the time it takes to ride an elevator (30 seconds to 2 minutes), then it isn’t honed enough. And if the people that speak on your behalf aren’t saying something strikingly similar, then confusion will be the result:

Where are we headed?

What must be answered is the big idea – what is the goal, project or plan that has captured your attention and for which you are working so hard? What do you want? The listener needs to hear in your passion and see in your eyes that you are undeterred in your focus and know what you are aiming for.

Why is that worthy or important?

Out of all of the things in which someone could invest their time and money, why is your cause the one that they should support? Is it important because people will be helped or society will be impacted – will needs will be met? Are you addressing something for which you are uniquely qualified? 

How do we intend to get there?

In the vision, there needs to be a brief sense of how you intend to accomplish your goal. Otherwise, it sounds like you are dreamer without a plan. “We are taking on child hunger in Detroit” is not as powerful as “We are partnering with every elementary school in Detroit Public Schools to make sure that each child has breakfast before the school day starts”.   This doesn’t reveal intimate detail about the plan, but if you said this on an elevator ride, the other passengers would have a very good idea of what you are all about.

What will be the result?

            Help me understand how the future will look different if this vision is fulfilled.

Before a person is willing to support something financially, they want to know that you are committed to results. Can we measure the impact and how are we intending to do so? Will we hear a report on the success (or failure) of the attempt? Ideally, we can paint a picture that seems emotionally or spiritually satisfying when we cast vision. And in the best case scenario, the prospective funder will be able to align their personal desire for impact with what you are doing. So, give them a sense for what it will be like when it’s all said and done.

3. Sense that we are part of a Winning Team

This is an intangible “gut feeling” that people will get about a church. More than just winning as a generally positive vibe, it is about a sense that God is at work through this church in visible ways. People don’t want to re-arrange deck chairs on the titanic or align themselves with something that feels like its dying or losing.   It is more than just public relations. People tend to look for early indicators that a proposed project or ministry is on the right course and that the church has a proven track record for Kingdom impact. Positive emotion also comes from hearing the endorsement of others (who have credibility) who are supportive of the vision. The ministry track record of the church will be the primary driver of this hunch that is hard to describe.

The most important of these three is Trust in Leadership without a doubt. In an age of well-founded skepticism about leaders run amok, integrity at the top is the key.

With that, however, the other two items mixed into the recipe will make for certain success. (This all presumes that an organization has a sense for the best practices and tactics associated with raising funds). So, with solid strategy and approach and the three non-negotiable concepts mentioned, increased funding is on the way.

> Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about Generosity in your church.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg Gibbs

Greg Gibbs

Greg Gibbs was raised in the Philadelphia area but has set down roots in the suburbs of Detroit.  As the son of an IBM executive, his instincts for leadership were shaped early.  And, the commitment and involvement of his family in church leadership provided exposure to that environment as well.  He studied Organizational Communication as an undergrad and holds a master's degree in Theology. After a dozen years of leadership in churches both on the west coast and in Michigan, Greg turned his attention to consulting and has spent years traveling the country working with church leaders of all denominations, sizes, and approaches. Greg is both practitioner and consultant. He is the Director of Organizational Advancement for Kensington Church - his home church and one of the largest in the United States. Kensington is a multi-site church with eight campuses, and has helped fund and coach over 50 church plants around the country.  Greg’s tenure at Kensington includes the spear-heading of two $20M capital campaigns at Kensington, as well as developing the Leadership Development program. After 15 years of strategic consulting and having helped raise over $150M for various churches, Greg joined the Auxano team in 2016 as a Lead Navigator. Greg focuses his attention on counseling leaders regarding Clarity of Vision and Building a Generosity Culture in the church. He conducts the God Dreams Retreat, the Vision Frame Process, and other facilitated coaching as needed. Greg has been married to Andrea for 27 years and they have four children, two dogs, and like to roast their own coffee with beans they purchase at the Eastern Market in downtown Detroit.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Moving from Financial Deficit to Abundance

Somewhere I picked up the line, “Your vision will always outpace your resources.” Can you relate? Do you find yourself in the position where you always need more money for more ministry? For the majority of us the answer is a resounding YES! When it comes to money there always seems to be more month than money. Unfortunately, great opportunities come and go simply because we lack the resources to take advantage of them.

What if it doesn’t have to be this way! What if the issue isn’t a lack of available resources? What if the lack of resources is a leadership issue? For many of us I believe this is the case. Let’s be honest. Many of us lack the skill and competency to move from a deficit to an abundance of resources for kingdom impact. It isn’t that we are bad leaders. It just happens to be where we are at and the good news now is we can do something about it.

Where do we start? Why not determine that the one big thing for this next year is going to be moving our financial needle from deficit to abundance. Here are some thoughts and best practices on getting there.

Start with Vision Clarity

When I assess the causes I’m giving to, there is always a clear and compelling vision behind it. I have no question what problem my resources will help solve. One of the ministries I support is a fast growing church planting movement among the Iranians. One way I can support them is by providing New Testaments at the cost of $6.00 each. For every New Testament we put in the hand of an Iranian, there are five to six Iranians who come to Christ.

Often when I do vision clarity and generosity work with churches I tell them this story and ask them, “What’s your Iran?” General appeals for resources get a general response. Abundance begins when we give people a compelling reason to give within the local church. People want to be a part of something significant. They want to do more than turn on the lights. They want to solve a problem that creates a better world.

Budget on Last Year’s Income

It doesn’t stop with vision. If we are going to have an abundant harvest of resources to invest in the kingdom, we must look at how we operate. A common practice in setting the church budget is to take last year’s receipts and add a certain percentage to that number based on anticipated growth in attendance and giving. If last year’s income was $500,000 we may anticipate a 10% growth in giving, so we set our new budget at $550,000. This is not necessarily a best practice or even a good practice.

What if instead we budget on last year’s income or even went a step further and budgeted on less than last years budget? What if instead of budgeting on $550,000 or even $500,000 we budged on $450,000?

What if while we budgeted on $450,000, our giving grows to $550,000? Now we get to live in abundance. Instead of fighting for budget we have a surplus to invest in the kingdom, margin for the lean times, and/or a head start on the next big capital need.

Rethink Your Percentages

In addition to budgeting on last year’s numbers, we need to rethink how we spend our budgets. We have found a consistent model for budget planning that allocates 50% on staffing, 25% on facilities, and 25% on ministry and missions. Whenever our staffing cost goes up, it has to come from somewhere. If the cost of our facilities increases, then a church has to cutback on ministry, staffing, raise additional dollars, or they enter into a deficit.

Driving down your numbers can be another way of creating an abundance of financial resources. Some churches have found the best way to do this is by lowering their staffing cost. This doesn’t mean that they pay their staff less and reduce the level of their benefits. It simply means that they expect staff to equip volunteers to lead ministries.

These churches often operate with 35% to 40% of their budget going to staff. This is radically different than how I was taught to budget. We budgeted to grow by adding staff even when we couldn’t afford it. We would rationalize it by saying things like, “A good staff member always pays for himself or herself.” Maybe you can relate. To be completely honest, it seldom or almost never worked out for us. We usually ended up cutting something or someone we deemed less strategic. It was the constant proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Develop a Robust Leadership System

You can’t reduce your investment in staff without developing a robust leadership system. To do this we need volunteers that can lead. Paul put it this way, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV).

In our work with churches across the nation it’s common to find an abundance of volunteers, but a deficit when it comes to volunteers who are actually leading. Churches that are able to dial back on staffing have an intentional process in place to raise-up an abundant harvest of leaders who can serve in strategic places eliminating the need for paid staff in certain places.

Create a Generous Disciple Pathway

At the end of the day we will never experience abundance if we don’t develop generous disciples. Disciple making at its core is about worldview transformation. We need to disciple people to think about their resources differently. For abundance to take place, we need the mind of Christ. A generous disciple pathway will help disciples navigate toward this new mindset regardless of where they begin. Imagine an intentional pathway that helps occasional givers become regular givers, and regular givers to become tithers, and tithers to become extravagant givers.

If we did this alone it would have an incredible impact on our ability to impact the kingdom. At the same time let’s face the fact that creating generous disciples without the other practices may not lead to abundance. Abundance is the result of a discipline approach that includes all of the practices mentioned above.

Conclusion

Chances are your financial systems are perfectly designed to get the results you are currently getting. Making lasting changes aren’t a matter of doing business as usual. We often believe that change is the result of our wills. Unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know.

Lacking the skills or competency as a leader to create abundance isn’t a failure. Failing to reach out to those who can help you learn new skills or competencies can be. Don’t be a leader that says that you will figure it out and don’t. There’s too much at stake.

Start by using the Generosity Dream Tool to dream a new generosity dream that includes an abundant harvest of resources for kingdom impact. Don’t stop there. Reach out for help! Make creating abundance for kingdom impact your one big thing this year. I promise you that it will have an incredible impact now and in the future.


Want to learn more about moving from financial deficit to abundance? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Money Matters: Aligning Priorities Toward Eternity

How can we cultivate a “get to give” not a “got to give” culture of generosity?

It is inspiring to watch generosity flourish. Here are four simple principles regarding generosity:

  • God is a very generous God.
  • He created us in His image to be generous people.
  • When we are generous together the world is a better place.
  • Generosity is rewarding to both the giver and receiver.

Money can really bind us at times and create many life burdens. Generosity is the path of freedom, joy, and impact.

Yet, the typical church is full of people who see giving at best as a chore and most often as a necessary burden.

Make God’s priorities your priorities.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Generous Soul, by Marty Duren

Marty Duren conducts a thorough study examining how Christ followers relate to money and possessions in the larger Kingdom purpose.

Viewing each believer as a ‘missionary manager,’ The Generous Soul provides a solid biblical foundation for a life of financial generosity toward others based on the faithfulness of God. The book includes a set of 20 conversations starters making it suitable for individual or group study. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Success in becoming generous is 100% impossible without embracing the principle that God owns everything. We are stewards of a few small things that God owns. God owns our lives, our jobs, our church, our bodies, and all our physical possessions.

As managers of God’s possessions, our responsibility is to handle “our” stuff just as God would if He were on earth; this is the substance of Jesus’ parables.

The proper understanding of finances means that the priorities of God’s people related to money and possessions should be the same priorities that God has for the Kingdom. The use of money is not a separate reality from the gospel. On the contrary, our use of money and possessions is a direct reflection of our understanding of and love for the gospel and the Savior it reveals.

If the gospel, the Good News, is the story of God’s redemptive activity through Jesus Christ of all things lost in the Fall, then everything under our management is usable for the embodiment and expansion of the gospel. If we keep money and possessions under a separate section of our lives it is tantamount to lording overt that area ourselves rather than yielding lordship to Christ.

To maintain this control of our finances is like divorcing ourselves from God. We cannot, no matter how much we try, serve both God and mammon.

Marty Duren, The Generous Soul

A NEXT STEP

Sharing stories of people doing both good and great things inspires others. When it comes to giving, people can often feel shame and inadequacy. However, the Bible reveals great nuggets from people who lived attainable generous lives on an every day basis.

The Gospel of Luke captures these stories of generosity. Jesus introduces us to men and women, both mature and immature in their faith. He describes both real and fictional characters engaged in very normal activities; still they manage to live abundantly generous lives. Some of these characters are expected while others are rather unexpected.

Review the following givers Jesus knew, and make it your goal to practice what they lived.

Unsuspecting Giver– Luke 8:1-3 tells us about some of the early actions of the 12 disciples and several ladies. These early recruits were newbie’s in the faith, straight out of the marketplace. On top of that, the women are described as formerly having evil spirits, diseases, and demons. This is probably not the list that most would make heroes of or at least not just yet. Still these early adopters who are taking their first steps of faith are said to be supporting Jesus “out of their own means” and Jesus wants to make sure you know them. There are no high and lofty requirements to generosity, just give.

Called Giver– Luke 9:3 and 10:4 introduces us to an extreme giving request of Jesus. He called His early disciples, over 80 of them, to give up everything for the sake of a short-term mission trip. He sent them all out into the harvest, to share the good news and help people with their needs. Jesus called them to go, take nothing, not a dime or a change of clothes, not even a snack. We are called to support Jesus both out of our means and at times by giving up all that we have. Don’t worry, you won’t be the first or last person Jesus asks or sends out – just one of many who have learned to enjoy the adventure.

Compassionate Giver– Luke 10:35 introduces us to a fictional character, but the story is powerfully real. Today we call him The Good Samaritan, a man who allowed his day to be interrupted. He didn’t permit the inconvenience or expense to stop him. Whatever others may say about his investment in a troubled person did not matter. He gave compassionately and comprehensively. No trite pat on the back here. Rather he gave time, energy, and resources over an extended period for a man he may never see again. Giving people are both simple and alert. This story could look a little heroic, but it’s really just common courtesy. If you can’t be stopped in your tracks, you will never be able to give compassionately.

Investing Giver– Luke 10:15ff is another fictional character in a very real situation. It’s a successful businessman tempted by greed. His thriving business has put him in a quandary. His barns are too small, so he builds bigger barns to store his wealth and coast into the future. Only life changes and his money can’t solve his spiritual problem. Focusing on an earthly investment did not pay off as he anticipated. Jesus instructions are to live by faith and don’t trust in worldly wealth. Instead, sell your possessions and give to the poor. This will reap an unstoppable reward and grow a heart toward God. Seeing the future clearly helps us hold loosely to the things of today.

Fake Giver– Luke 18:22 shares about a man who lived on the dark side of generosity. We commonly call him the Rich Young Ruler. He appears to desire a relationship with Jesus; however, as the story unfolds we learn where his heart really is. He is so proud of his religious life, and then Jesus exposes that it is paper-thin. No hero here. This is only a stark reminder that the Rich Young Ruler can be a stealthy resident in the life of very religious people. He chooses to fail at generosity and he had all the resources to accomplish it. How sad.

Transformed Giver– Luke 19:8 provides us with an immediate and rather bold response of faith. It comes from Zacchaeus. He is a brand new follower of Jesus – less than one day. He is really wealthy just like the Investing Giver and the Fake Giver. Jesus doesn’t ask him to show his faith through generosity at all. This still this doesn’t stop Zacchaeus from thinking about it on his own. He confesses his financial sins having been a cheat and thief. Then he demonstrates a changed life by giving half of his possessions to the poor and paying back anyone he wronged four times what he owed them. Jesus said we would be known by things like love and fruit. Generosity is a great demonstration of both.

These are just a few of the giving stories in the Bible.

  • Pick one of the stories and share it with someone else this week.
  • Make a commitment to learn and live the lessons of one of them this month.
  • Create a family practice of learning to live generously around one this summer.

Taken from SUMS Remix 43-3, published June 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Discover the Genius of Generosity

How can you connect with high-capacity givers in your church who are not yet giving without appearing greedy?

It’s right there in the Acts 2 account of the early church. As disciples are made, giving is a natural overflow. Generosity development in your church is really people development. Leaders need to look at the matter of generosity through the eyes of the giver instead of the staff, finance committee, or other leadership group. When you look through giver’s eyes, you will begin to see how you are actually discipling them by helping them grow their generosity and develop their giving.

Solution – Discover the genius of generosity

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Genius of Generosity, by Chip Ingram

The “secrets” to being financially savvy are all around us. Go to your local bookstore or look online to read all the books written on how to manage your finances. Turn on the television to hear wise tips from financial experts. Surf the Internet to skim the “Seven Habits of Highly Successful Money Managers.”

The truth is most people want to be financially savvy. And some say to be smart, you must spend carefully. Others say to be wise, you must save regularly. But as the title of this book reads, to be genius, you must give generously.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

You can’t stop generosity. It is natural, normal, and wired into the existence of every human being. So why are we so nervous about it at church? Give these thoughts some significant time to brew and see if they do not inspire, affirm, and empower a new direction.

Generosity is meant to be joyful and fulfilling. It isn’t rooted in guilt, self- righteousness, or a martyr complex. It’s rooted in joy. And, in fact, it’s genius.

It’s the smartest way to live.

Generosity – a life overflowing with care and concern for others – is a brilliant way to live. It isn’t supposed to be a high, noble, sacrificial calling for a few super-spiritual people. Spending and saving carefully are wise, but giving generously is genius. Both practically and spiritually, it’s one of the smartest, most intellectually sound and emotionally satisfying decisions you will ever make for your life now and forever.

Here are four simple reasons why generosity is really the most intelligent way to live.

  1. Generosity is genius because it changes our lives. People who give generously feel great about it and find themselves blessed in ways they never expected. Great things happen in them, and great things happen to those around them. It’s the ultimate win-win situation.

  2. Generosity connects us with others. When people are generous and gracious, they exude love and happiness. Generous people create positive feelings in their relationships.

  3. Generosity helps us invest in what matters. Spiritually, generosity protects us from shortsighted, bad investments of our time, our talent, and our treasure and creates long-term wealth. In a sense, everything you do is an investment. You are always pouring your time, talent, and treasure into something. And whatever you’re pouring into, that’s where your heart is.

  4. Generosity frees our hearts. Money is the mirror of our heart before God. Notice where your money is going. That will tell you what you’re devoted to. And not only does the direction of your resources reflect where your heart is, it helps determine where your heart goes. Your heart will always follow your investments.

Chip Ingram, The Genius of Generosity

A NEXT STEP

Pastors desire a generous culture for their churches, but very few know what it really is and are willing to do the work to experience it. They tend to default toward doing nothing (except complaining) or executing yet another quick fix, short-term remedy.

True generosity is absolutely possible if you pursue these three ingredients at the same time and do not quit.

  1. Possess such a powerfully clear vision that you know what not to do as confidently as you know what to do.Vision is not a generic mantra on your wall, but a clear path plainly seen by all. It should naturally propel you forward, hold you accountable, and engage the masses.
  2. Align your strategy to be very simple, yet radically focused on this vision. This means your resources will be invested more than they are expended. Doing a few things very well in a repeatable process has seriously positive ramifications.
  3. Chase discipleship and not money.Generosity is the fruit of a growing Christ-follower. Money can come fast enough with a well-articulated appeal or when a powerful fear is exposed. However, it stops when the circumstance changes. Generosity never stops.

How well are you doing with these three ingredients? What is one step you can take today in one of these three areas?

Generosity is possible for your church, but you have to want it – really want it – enough to invest your entire staff. Enough to be willing to reframe your vision, realign your strategy, and develop a solid discipleship path beyond just getting more people in groups. There is so much freedom and possibility on the other side of generosity.

 


Congregations that practice effective generosity keep first things first: they focus some of their best creativity, leadership, and energies on advancing their vision.

Congregations with solid practices of generosity have a better chance of doing effective mission. The one advances the other.

When your church focuses on generosity, you are serving people. Understanding and developing generosity helps people develop their capacity and gift for giving. In order to help accomplish this, lead your congregation by discovering the genius of generosity.

Taken from SUMS Remix 33-1, published February 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.