The Radical Blessing of Creating Surplus Giving

Before we get started, I want to be clear this is a tool to help you think differently about effectively leading and creating a surplus to unleash vision. Some of the topics may cause you to be uncomfortable at first. Ignore these feelings and just go with it. You are only concerned about the conclusions you make at the end of the tool, not necessarily the minutia you have to think about along the way to get there.

Premise: On average churches spend 50 percent of their resources on staff and 25 percent on programming, ministries, and missions activities. This 75 percent is a huge chunk of resources that need to be continually investigated. Staff expenses can be both productive and unproductive. They can add great value and introduce tremendous risk. The expense of staff is often seen as a fixed expense that cannot be touched. It’s not fixed. It’s a choice. Once you add in the facility expenses, which is your only true fixed expense, ministry and programming activities tend to get the leftover. It can be really shocking the first time a church leader discerns that it is common for 25 percent or less to be dedicated to ministry and missions. So let’s dive into a discussion of the 75 percent (staff, missions, programming) of your resources that can flex to deliver surplus results.

I want to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your ministry strategy and I am going to travel down the road of the staff expense to start the process. I am pro-staff, so go on the journey. Don’t get lost in the minutia. Again, the end of the tool is the goal not the beginning.

  • Create an accurate organization chart that includes ALL paid staff positions.Next, to each position list their total expense to the organization (salary + benefits). Discover what percentage of resources you are investing in your staff. As I mentioned previously, the church on average invests around 50 percent of its resources in their team. Are you above or below the national average?
  • Establish a challenging goal to reduce your staff expense getting it as close to 35 percent of total budget income as possible. Make the number a legitimate stretch, no less than a 10 percent reduction of current staff expense. If the number is not a challenging figure this tool will not be helpful. (Remember do not quit right here; stick with the process.)

Recreate your staff org chart with the following parameters.

  • Financially do not exceed the 35 percent total staff expense figure (or challenge figure you chose.) This means positions might be eliminated, combined, or experience a pay reduction. Obviously, keep this tool private as this information could be unnecessarily alarming. You can even create the organization chart without names only using title names or descriptions.
  • Make a list of non-negotiable ministries, programs, and events that are core to accomplishing your vision. I am sure you have many ministries that are well run, enjoyable, and strongly attended. However, that was not the filter I suggested. Only list the ministry activities that are critical to accomplishing the vision of your church.
  • Make a separate list of the current ministries, programs, and events that were not included in exercise b. Set this list aside for now. This list should contain activities that are now considered negotiable in terms of mission-critical accomplishment. You will come back to it shortly.
  • Merge your work from 3.a. and 3.b. by assigning the core ministries list to the appropriate staff member on your newly designed organization chart. It may take a little forcing and wondering how a certain person could succeed or have the time. Nevertheless, you need to get these core ministries accomplished with these core staff members. They are the heartbeat of your vision.
  1. Now that you have a new org chart and ministry strategy developed that is absolutely critical to core success, you probably have some gaps. You might be seeing more work than one person can do. Also, you may see a surplus of volunteers, dollars or staff members because of the programming reduction you experienced with the non-core activities list from 3.c. Given both, your gaps and surpluses answer the following questions.
  • What new systems could you create to alleviate the gaps or work stress?
  • How might your systems and processes be simplified without reducing the impact?
  • What new opportunities exist for a volunteer position or team?
  • What impact would be lost or risked if you could not solve the gaps with an improved system powered by volunteers?
  1. Let’s return to your list of non-core ministries and activities you previously set aside in 3.c.
  • What would be gained if you took the people and financial resources being invested in these activities and redirected them to the ministries you defined as core?
  • Would there be a measurable loss in conversion or discipleship growth that would not be replaced by a greater focus on the core ministries?
  • Could you possibly experience exponential growth from a greater investment in your core?
  • Could you possibly create a surplus of resources with this growth and freed up cash to better fund your vision in the future, thus minimizing the need for debt?

Roadblock to conquer: The older a church becomes, the more it tends to add ministries, programming, events, and staff. It can be very hard to decrease the church calendar and team. However, not all church staff and activities actually advance the mission equally. The goal of this tool is not to create a list of those who get fired or ministries that get canned. However, I do want to put you in a situation you might never put yourself in to really measure the value of the dollars being invested in both staff and programming.

Church budgets, calendars, and staff can become very inflexible and complicated over time. They can easily become silos or territorial conversations. Sometimes the leader just needs to start over from scratch in your mind, not reality. It provides the clarity needed to start a retooling process that may culminate in a 10 percent resources savings and a 10 percent increase in effectiveness. A savvy use of all your resources produces the potential of a 20 percent exponential surplus.

The end result: Would you rather lead the ministry structure you are currently leading or the one that more resembles what you recreated via this tool? I hope it is leading your current church structure. However, if you need to retool, you now have a pattern of thinking and can start the reshaping. Give yourself three years and you will make great progress.

If this tool has been helpful to you, we have tons more. Check out all of our resources at LifeWayGenerosity.com.

> Read more from Todd.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Traits of Increasingly Generous Churches

One of the key metrics of financial giving in a church is per member giving: What is the average giving per member or per attendee? Per member giving is often masked by fluctuations in attendance and membership. The most effective measure is to calculate the average giving per member.

Churches with increased giving per member have seven dominant characteristics. These seven traits are becoming even more important as Millennials enter in our churches in greater numbers.

  1. Increased emphasis on belonging to a group. Those members in a group, such as a small group or Sunday school class, give as much as six times more than those attending worship services alone. Take time to absorb the previous sentence. It’s a huge issue!
  2. Multiple giving venues. Per member giving increases as churches offer more giving venues. I recommend all churches provide these four venues at a minimum: offertory giving in the worship services; online giving; mailed offering envelopes to all members and givers; and automatic deductions from members’ bank accounts. I also recommend churches strongly consider kiosk giving and offertories in groups. I will elaborate more on these issues in a later post.
  3. Meaningful and motivating goals. Church members give more if they see the church has a goal that will make a meaningful difference. “Increasing total gifts by 10%” is not a meaningful goal. “Giving 10% more to advance the gospel in the 37201 zip code” is more meaningful.
  4. Explaining biblical giving in the new members’ class. New member classes should be an entry point for both information on and expectations of biblical church membership. Biblical giving should be a clear and unapologetic expectation of church membership.
  5. Willingness of leadership to talk about money. In the 1980s and 1990s, some pundits did surveys of unchurched persons that indicated they did not go to church because “all they talk about is money.” As a consequence, many church leaders stopped talking about money altogether. While it is possible to communicate financial stewardship in an overbearing manner, it is inexcusable for leaders to be silent about financial stewardship by Christians.
  6. Meaningful financial reporting. Many churches provide financial reporting that only a CPA or a CFO can understand. Church members need to be able to understand clearly how funds are given or spent.
  7. Transparent financial reporting. If church members sense that pertinent financial information is being withheld, they tend to give less or nothing at all. While that does not mean every financial statement provides endless details, it does indicate that church members will have a clear idea of how funds are given and spent.

There are reasons for optimism in church giving. Many churches are experiencing increases in both total giving as well as per member giving. And most of those churches exhibit the seven characteristics noted above.


Would you like to learn more about generosity for your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
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Clarity Process

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Checking the Vital Signs of Church Financial Health

I have seen many churches in financial distress. It is a sad situation to witness.

They are worried how they will pay their staff. They are worried how they will pay their bills. The ability to do ministry has dwindled.

And they are not sure how they got to this place.

So what happened? As we hear the stories of churches that find themselves scraping the bottom of their checking account, worried if they will financially survive, you tend to uncover some common themes.

  1. Failed to preach and teach stewardship. Maybe the pastor was afraid he would be considered a church leader that abuses his platform for personal financial gain. Maybe the church leaders were afraid of reducing attendance. Whatever the reason, financial stewardship was not taught.
  1. Took on too much debt. The church overextended itself. They built too much or too quickly. And a huge chunk of tithes and offerings were sucked away by the debt payment.
  1. Was not transparent with finances. They hid their finances from church members. Skepticism grew. And giving declined.
  1. Used very few dollars to reach and minister to the community. They focused on themselves. Little went toward outside efforts.
  1. Did not have multiple options for giving. They dismissed online giving and other nontraditional methods of giving, reducing participation from younger generations.
  1. Did not constantly evaluate how funds were spent. The church was not a good steward of the money they received. There was significant waste, preventing forward movement in the budget.
  1. Never took wise steps of financial faith. Budgets were not based on reasonable mathematical projections, but staff wants. And it was just assumed that the money to pay for these wants would be provided.
  1. The church relied on a few big givers. And when these givers either died or left the church, the church’s financial viability died or left with them.

It’s sad to see a church in financial disarray. It’s sad to see the staff struggle. It’s sad to see the ministry struggle.

Especially, when you know it could have been prevented.


To learn more about preventing financial disarray in your church, connect with an Auxano Navigator.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Art Rainer

Art Rainer

Art Rainer serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a cofounder of Rainer Publishing. He has written three books, Raising Dad , Simple Life, and The Minister's Salary, and lives with his wife, Sarah, and two sons in Wake Forest, NC.

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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
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— Mike
 

Clarity Process

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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.


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


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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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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Key Insights for Church Capital Campaigns

After 21 years of local church ministry, I’m excited to be a part of the Resourcing Team of Auxano as a Lead Navigator. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on executive teams of great churches ranging in size from 300 on one campus, to 10,000+ on five campuses. One of the greatest challenges of the local church, big or small, is resourcing. Like you, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy raising money. In fact, I’ve been involved in campaign mode for all but six months of my ministry. Looking back on my campaign experiences, here are five insights that I bring with me into this new role:

1.   Vision vs. Project

Titles like “Time To Build” and “Possess The Land” communicate that the focus is the project, potentially void of a clear and compelling vision that would necessitate the project. Unfortunately, in my experience, the project WAS the vision far too often.

2.   “For” vs. “From”

To “Possess The Land” we need people to give money…a lot of money! We inadvertently focus on getting something “from” them, instead of developing a culture that desires something greater “for” them.

3.   Transformational vs. Transactional

When the campaign ends and the project is completed, we can lack legacy of what God has done in us collectively. We end up possessing a building or land, while missing the opportunity to create a significant movement of spiritual transformation in the process.

4.   Generosity vs. Money

We need money…God desires for us to grow in generosity. A church culture of generosity can only be accomplished through strategic discipleship and the movement of God. Chasing money creates a terrible culture for generosity.

5.   All vs. Select

The goal of any campaign should be 100% participation. A typical campaign can focus a lot of leadership energy courting potential big givers, communicating a powerful message to the rest of the congregation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a family remain seated or skip church during commitment weekend. They felt like they couldn’t participate, because their “widows mite” wouldn’t significantly impact the “hallelujah goal.”

I’ve joined the Resourcing Team of Auxano, because I saw them boldly challenging what I believe has become an outdated and overpriced approach. By elevating the role of vision, leadership, and discipleship, Auxano navigates toward:

1.   Clarity First – campaign goals are contextualized within a well-developed sense of organizational identity and direction.

2.   Process vs. Product – campaign design is emphasized through collaboration not prescription.

3.   Leadership Development – a holistic look at leadership development occurs before, during, and after the campaign.

4.   Discipleship Measurables –there is no such thing as a church vision that is not first a discipleship vision.

The economic crash of 2008 brought about significant change, not only financially, but culturally as well. People have become far more discerning about the dollars they’re investing, requiring a clear return of impact on that investment. Smart leaders are doing the hard work of identifying their Church Unique, clarifying and communicating their compelling vision, creating margin by simplifying programming, and growing generous disciples that are taking the Church to their own neighborhoods. I believe that we’re once again getting back to what God intended His local church to be. Join the movement!


Would you like to learn more about capital campaigns for your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kent Vincent

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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Money Matters: Wisely Budgeting for Growth

Budgeting is a great time to develop a plan, with the right leaders, for spending. I prefer approaching budgeting with a growth mentality. If you do so, your budget will be bigger than it was the previous year. A growth budget is a step of faith, but wisdom will require you to have a plan for spending if the growth in giving isn’t realized.

Instead of displaying wisdom in spending, shrewdness in planning, and generosity in giving, church leaders often succumb to the spending values of this world. Sadly many churches are collective reflections of American spending habits-spending all we have and even money we haven’t yet received. Church leaders teach by their spending; therefore, we must display a better way to live by how we manage the resources God entrusts to us. Part of this, I believe, means spending less than you receive as a church.

But how do you reconcile this with a growth mentality? Budgeting in a growing church is very challenging because it’s difficult to predict what giving trends will be in the future. The current growth isn’t always consistent nor is it clear what the new “per-person” giving will be. Often those new to the faith don’t start giving immediately. The practice of simply multiplying the current growth rate by the current “per-person” giving is a good starting point, but it’s really more reflective of the past than predictive of the future. [To do this, a church simply estimates the number of new people and multiplies that number by the current “average per-person” giving]

The budgeting season is a good time to wrestle with the tension of growth and uncertainty, faith and wisdom. You can reconcile a growth mentality and shrewd planning by using the budgeting time to objectively and proactively plan spending so that you’re not making chaotic decisions later.

How could this look practically?

(1) Have a trigger plan for unleashing new budgeted resources. Mark the areas in your budget that will be “released” after the giving reaches a new consistent level. Once the weekly giving reaches that point, the trigger is pulled.

(2) Develop a plan for spending freezes. With a small team of wise people, plan what spending would be frozen at specific levels of giving. Examples: You may freeze new hires until a consistent level of giving is realized. Or if giving drops to a certain point, certain expenses are suspended.

Establish a flexible framework during budgeting so that clarity is gained before it’s needed. It’s much easier to have objective and level-headed discussions before the moment is urgent.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about budgeting clarity.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Are These Offertory Trends Taking Place at Your Church?

For most Protestant churches, the offertory is the time of worship where church members make financial gifts to God through the church. It may be combined with special music or announcements, but the central theme is giving to God.

I am seeing seven major trends develop related to this aspect of worship services. The changes have been subtle but noticeable.

  1. More churches are moving the offertory to near the middle of the service, shortly before the preaching of the Word. This development is a change back to a practice that was most common before 1990. This approach has either an implicit or explicit theological belief that the offertory is a central facet of worship, and should be placed prominently in the service.
  2. The second most common practice is to have the offertory at the end of the service. The typical rationale for this practice is more related to the flow of the service. The offertory is still deemed important, but the service has a more continuous flow if it is placed at the end.
  3. Churches that provide the opportunity for online giving see an uptick in overall gifts.Obviously this type of offertory does not take place in a worship service, but it is deemed very important by leaders whose churches offer this option. I am not aware of any churches where online giving has replaced the worship offertory; it is simply another way to give.
  4. Churches that mail offering envelopes to members also see an uptick in overall gifts. I have heard numerous stories from church leaders of the importance of this church practice. One church leader told me his church eliminated the practice, and offerings declined almost 20 percent. The church reinstated the mailing of offering envelopes pretty quickly.
  5. Only a relatively few churches have offering boxes for member donations. Most of these churches do not have an offertory time in the service; members are asked to give as they leave the service.
  6. More churches have some type of testimony or statement about stewardship to accompany the offering. Typically, this statement is about how the funds are used. Members are able to see through videos or testimonies the missional impact of their gifts (See the blog post with Pastor Mike Glenn’s example).
  7. Relatively few churches receive gifts in their small groups or Sunday school classes. This practice was more common prior to 1990, especially in Sunday school based churches.

From my perspective, the most effective churches in stewardship make certain that items 3, 4, and 6 are common practices to accompany the church’s offertory. Let me hear from you about these seven offertory trends, and let me hear what your church does as well.

> Read more from Thom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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scottreavely — 05/05/15 1:42 pm

Is the offering moved to the middle or the end because people are late getting into the service? It may appear to fit the flow of worship or centralize the offering, but there are VERY practical reasons to move it later as well.

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— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

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Seven Actions to Lead Your Church to Financial Fitness

Is your church financially fit? When asked this question most church leaders usually have a quick gut level response between two extremes. They either respond with a confident “yes” because the church has more money than it spends every year. Or an absolute “no” due to the impression of too few resources to fulfill the dream. Before we venture into an honest discussion of what it means to be financially fit, let’s make sure we understand the land mines of measuring the wrong things.

False Financial Measures

  1. No Debt – Debt can be the number one binder on financial freedom. However, being a church with no debt can also result in a lack of numeric growth, dated and unmaintained facilities, or a hoarding of resources. Don’t make debt free the ultimate measuring stick of financial health.
  2. Increased Budget Growth – Receiving more resources every year is not the end all measurement on financial health. It might be the result of a small percentage of willing donors or can lead to unjustified spending which is sinful. A generous church is not the same as a wealthy congregation.
  3. Lack of Financial Conversations – A church that never talks about money may also be a church that is stuck or even moving backwards. It may be a church without a clear mission that demands a great sacrifice. It may be a church with very little financial discipleship occurring.
  4. High Missions Giving Percentage – I’ve learned that being a “missions-minded church” can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes it means we live for the mission, then other times it means we do nothing but study missionaries and give resources away. I have also seen foreign missions giving be trumpeted as better than internal or local investments in ministry.

Financial Values Leading To Fitness

  1. Model The Way – Every church I encounter that is enjoying the fruit of financial freedom is being led by a generous pastor who is not distant from every financial conversation. A pastor who understands both personal stewardship and the generous life will naturally lead the organization by the same principles.
  2. Tell Great Stories – Church leaders would be shocked to know how many times a church attender gives to non-profits, because he or she does not clearly see the impact of the mission of the local church. Most committed church givers do so out of duty, habit, or obligation. Very few see, hear, and experience the stories of impact. NPO’s have clear visions that are big and engaging. The church has a budget and bills.
  3. Invest For A Return – 100% of church resources need to be wisely invested as resources considered holy by God and wholly committed to the mission. Every budget year most churches answer two lingering questions, “What did we do last year?” and ” How much money do we have to spend this year?” The conversation needs to begin with a clear understanding of where God is uniquely at work in your church. Then, church leaders should have a clear and tactical vision moving forward. We should never justify an expense solely because of the person leading the ministry or fear of making a change.
  4. Tame the Monsters – The two biggest expenses in most church budgets are staff and facilities. As a matter of fact, these two spending categories routinely create 75% of yearly expenses. We find that churches who pay their staff well, while creating a stronger volunteer pipeline, can steadily see their staff expense trend below 50% or less. When the figure is closer to 35% we see real future potential. Churches that maintain a debt load of less than 1 time their annual expenses also show few signs of financial bondage. There are certainly seasons in church life cycles where staff expense can trend above 50% and debt can be 2-3 times your annual income, but these are two places you want to avoid as a pattern.
  5. Focused Impact – Decades ago people could revolve their lives around church activities. That is simply not the case today. Church programming is far better off when you do a few things well as opposed to many things. Focusing your resources of people, funds, and space can produce far better results than stretching yourself thin.
  6. Personal Path – Money affects every person. We value and experience money at every stage of life and it is constantly different. Just watch a kid on a toy aisle or a senior adult fretting over a major health expense. Every person and family regardless of age or income level deserves the opportunity to enjoy financial freedom offered by the generous life. For many churches 50-60% of their people give far below the tithe principle taught in Scripture. A financially fit church has a discipleship plan for each giver beyond just a money management class and tithing sermon.
  7. Surplus Plan – This principle always sounds so foreign to church leaders. Unfortunately most churches begin each fiscal year having created a spending plan that consumes all expected margin. This leads to false limitations of ministries, an unnecessary weight for church leaders, and self-induced pressure. When we encounter a church that has the pattern of only spending 90% or less of last year’s undesignated receipts, we encounter freedom and joy. The conversation among church leaders is no longer what they can’t do, but instead, “God, we are ready. Lead the way.”

As you look to measure your church’s financial fitness it is really important to sort out what you should and shouldn’t measure. Scripture is clear that God gives resources to people and He then leads them to be generous. The church is not responsible for those two actions. Here is what church leaders are responsible for and should measure:

  1. Possessing a clear vision of the unique mission
  2. Providing the discipleship opportunity for personal growth in life stewardship
  3. Proving each expense is being invested for the highest kingdom good
  4. Placing faith in God as the wise provider

How much money a church receives or saves is not the end all. Never experiencing a financial pressure is not the ultimate test. A financially fit church rests on the fact that God controls the amount, and we control how we use it.

For more resources you can download the Generosity Dream Tool here or purchase my book Leading A Generous Church.


To learn how how to help your church be financially fit, connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


 

> Read more from Todd.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

When Generosity Floods: The Bayou Church Story

Are you ready for a flood? Are you praying for a flood? Are you anticipating a flood? A flood can be devastating, transformative, or a combination of both. Imagine waking up one Sunday morning to learn that torrential rains, road closings, and a local natural disaster in the making are potentially washing your big day away. This was the story of Mike Walker, the Senior Pastor of The Bayou Church.

My first text read, “Attendance was unbelievably low, so were all the other churches I have spoken with…hammered bad.”

Now let me back up and provide some context. The Bayou Church is in Lafayette, LA. Right in the middle of oil country, which has experienced months of financial challenges. While the rest of the country has enjoyed dropping gas prices, long-standing oil communities have been enduring catastrophic loss of income. Year to date, The Bayou Church was experiencing a giving drop of 11%. Imagine losing those resources and the effect it can have immediately on your ministry.

However big this loss may appear to a church leader, it could not overshadow the pain of the loss of local jobs. Individuals and families were hurting, so a strategy was put in place to focus the resources to not compromise the Mission, and also to not ignore the devastation on individuals or families. It was decided, “The Big Give” (a designated offering to five local non-profits serving the hurting in the city) would occur. A multi-month plan was put into place to reframe the church’s resources solely focused on the Mission, create a pathway for individuals to grow in generosity, and to deliver big resources to the points of need in the community.

Then, my next text read, “Here are some early totals…The Big Give $105,000 WOW (designated gifts) plus $41,000 undesignated receipts…so approximately $146,000 day…wow, that is really Courageous Generosity…and when you factor in the attendance was less than half the normal attendance (due to torrential rain and flooding)…Glory To God Amazing!”

Then, my third text arrived, “Todd, just sent the Trustees…Love giving updates on The Big Give. Total on Wednesday afternoon–$151,300. Plus I have 2 verbal’s from strong members that their checks will add to $14,000. That means we’ll have a minimum of $165,000 to build points of light in Acadiana and Transform Lives!!!!!!”

Next, an email update would read, “The Big Give has shown us that we have a big God that has blown us all away with Courageous Generosity. I am still shaking my head in disbelief at what God has done through our people giving $170,000 total to Big Give…Oh don’t forget on top of all that Big Give money, the hearts of The Bayou Church people on Sunday were moved mightily by God. Our budget offering was Spectacular–General Budget $114,000!! To God Be All The Glory!!! Like we have said this is God’s economy.”

The Bayou Church finance office sent us this official bit of perspective of what they saw during the Courageous Generosity Series:

  • Family giving units increased by 40.
  • Monthly contributions to the budget increased by $19,300.
  • Contributions to the budget during and after the series averaged 12% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Giving units during the series averaged 15% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Contributions to the budget on May 8, 2016 totaled $114,000, the 15th highest contribution Sunday in Bayou history! That is amazing, considering an additional $170,000 was donated to The Big Give.

So what were some keys to this flood of generosity?

1. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have a clearly statedMission that is more important than your circumstances. The Bayou Church’sMission is to “transform lives in Acadiana through Christ centered relationships.”This Missional Mandate is not measured in money or stopped by physical experiences.

2. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have an inspiring view from the Mountaintop. The Bayou Church has a 10-year Vision in which they will “permeate Acadiana with Christ centered relationships, making this a reality by having a point of light in every neighborhood.” It began by resourcing the community, building bridges for ministry.

3. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have clear Milestones to drive your team, holding all your resources accountable for success. The Bayou Church had determined that by the end of 2016 they would experience “500 families giving generously.” This is so specific that they will know if they succeed.

4. You will experience a flood of generosity when you deliver a path of growth helping your people Measure their steps toward the spiritual discipline of personal generosity. The Bayou Church has a Measure in their Vision Frame that states: “Do I practice generous giving?” This Measure called forth a path of five steps of growth from a Beginning Giver to an Extravagant Giver in order to live Courageous Generosity culminating in The Big Give.

The final text I received sums it up so well, “Almost weeping at the power and glory and awesomeness of God. Wow!”

To learn more about The Big Give:

The Big Give video

Article by the Louisiana Baptist Message

Download The Bayou Church’s Vision Frame

> Read more from Todd


Learn more about generosity for your church. Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

See more articles by >

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Top Twenty Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting

Christmas is the one time of the year when giving is on the forefront of everyone’s mind and possibly heart. You can witness it in the retailer raking it in, the mom preparing for guests, or the Salvation Army volunteer ringing that bell. Every where you go it is the season of giving. Then soon all your money will be spent and it will become the season of regretting those credit card payments. Which means the back side of gift giving can feel very different than the front side.

Giving joyfully then regretting painfully is no fun. Giving should be 100% rewarding all the time. How can we discover this? Can we move to an incredible lifestyle of consistency, dependability, and the rewarding life of generosity? A place where the front side and back side of giving are equally meaningful. Giving is fun at Christmas, but can be painful at church. Why?

I love the book of Proverbs. Virtually every chapter in Proverbs contains amazing life wisdom about finances, resources, marketplace, and generosity. I took the time to put together a brief list of the Top 20 Proverbs on Giving Without Regretting. The key is to lean into all the promises, blessings, and rewards from God. Enjoy!

1. Your Life Success Is Held In God’s Hand. When you are giving you are not losing. Your life success is in His hands, not your hands. Your ability to achieve does not guarantee success; however, your willingness to surrender does.

He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, (Proverbs 2:7 NIV)

2. Your Life Treasures Are Multiplied When They Are Released. When you give to God you are really giving back to God. It was never yours to start with. When we live with an open hand God is able to release what He wants us to have.

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 NIV)

3. Your Life Will Not Want For More. What is it like to not want anything more than what you currently have? To not worry about today, tomorrow, or the next. God promises He’s got it, so be generous.

The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:3 NIV)

4. Your Life Can Receive Undeserved Blessings. I like getting rewards, but I like undeserved, surprise rewards by grace even better. Load me up, Lord!

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it. (Proverbs 10:22 NIV)

5. Your Life Can Make An Impact In Your City. Everyone wants to live a life that counts. Usually we think a life of significance is for the mature or successful. Maybe you dream about it happening one day for you. You probably think you need to get some problems solved or gain a new career. Wrong, live righteously today and your city will be blessed.

When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. (Proverbs 11:10-11 NIV)

6. Your Life Will Be Prosperous To The Level You Are Generous. It is not about giving to get. However, you can’t stop God from wanting to bless you. So just give and let Him do his thing. It’ll be okay. Maybe even better than okay.

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)

7. Your Life Career Will Be Rewarded. Wake up everyday, work hard, and ask God to bless your work. He wants you to be successful at what you do. Bloom where you are planted.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. (Proverbs 12:11 NIV)

8. Your Life Savings Will Expand Little By Little. Giving to others doesn’t mean not giving to yourself for future needs and opportunities. You might not see the reward of faithfulness today, but little by little it grows a great return.

Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11 NIV)

9. Your Life Will Honor God When You Honor The Poor. Giving to the poor is wonderful, especially when it is the same as honoring God. Every imperfect, hurting, selfish person can honor God. That’s an amazing thought.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. (Proverbs 14:31 NIV)

10. Your Life Will Be Protected If You Find Yourself Alone. Being alone and the fear of doing without is scary. God protects us when we need to be protected.

The Lord tears down the house of the proud, but he sets the widow’s boundary stones in place. (Proverbs 15:25 NIV)

11. Your Life Will Experience Favor When You Serve Your Leaders. Humility and service are also expressions of generosity. Rebellion, selfishness, disrespect, and entitlement are, well, the opposite. God blesses you when you respect authority figures in your life.

When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring. (Proverbs 16:15 NIV)

12. Your Life Will Go Places When You Give. Jesus said that the last will be first and the first will be last. He also said that He came to serve and not to be served. Do likewise.

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. (Proverbs 18:16 NIV)

13. Your Life Can Give Without Sparing. Need and greed compete with giving. Givers have given long enough to know God gives without sparing so it is okay to do the same.

All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26 NIV)

14. Your Life Will Become Free When You Stop Depending On Yourself.You can not make yourself rich. God creates, disperses, and takes away as He pleases. You will always be standing on the same level ground as everyone else no matter your home address.

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. (Proverbs 22:2 NIV)

15. Your Life Will Relax When You Realize God Made Money To Come And Go, So Let It Go. Money is simply paper or metal to be circulated among all God’s creation. It is never really yours to keep, so share it.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. (Proverbs 23:4-5 NIV)

16. Your Life Hope Is Permanently Secure. Change happens and it can be very unnerving. Today change happens rapidly and repeatedly. Money won’t stop change from occurring nor can it provide you permanent peace or hope. God has your future secured and it is a hopeful one.

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 23:18 NIV)

17. Your Life Will Become Consistent When Your Priorities Are In Place.God gave you principles, laws, and truth for your benefit. He does the same for your financial life. Follow the truth and you will be blessed. I think you probably know what the alternative is. You reap what you sow.

Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. (Proverbs 24:27 NIV)

18. Your Life Will Be Rewarded When You Give To Your Enemies. Giving can be fun, but it can also be hard. Then sometimes, it can be really hard. God has a gift for you when you do the really hard thing like live generously towards your enemies.

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22 NIV)

19. Your Life Will Become As Generous Is You Envision It To Be. Vision matters both at work, church, and home. No passion, no priorities, no plan, then no reward. Discover God’s unique vision for you and live it.

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Proverbs 29:18 NIV)

20. Your Life Will Expand When You Focus On Today. Focus doesn’t limit, it expands. Give today all you’ve got at every moment. Be generous when you pray, think, drive, shop, talk, work, and live. You will find more ways to be generous than you imagined. God will care for tomorrow and all it’s worries.

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV)

If you are a preacher, I dare you to turn this into a sermon series. If you do, let me know. I’d love to see it.

Want to walk through Proverbs with your team to discover how every chapter contains multiple jewels of wisdom about money? If you are struggling with confidence in being the lead financial disciple, or if you just want to sharpen the skills on your team, please check out my book, Leading a Generous Church.

> Read more from Todd.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen

Todd serves at the Director of Generosity by LifeWay. His generosity roots arise from leading multiple capital campaigns for local churches that together raised over $35,000,000 for their visionary projects. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship coach, generosity leader, author, and conference speaker.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> […] source: https://www.visionroom.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-listening/ […]
 
— Bolstering your Leadership Armoury-Part 2- Leadership series – Toyer M–All things testing
 
comment_post_ID); ?> good article. Where I would take exception in the seeming negativity to plant a church more organically/biblically through missional communities due to the slowness of growth. I think that's the problem with church planting in the US today is that speed of numerical growth has taken priority over true and authentic spiritual growth
 
— evansavage1
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
— Mike
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.