The Hole in Your Weekend Outreach

Our churches did well in reaching the agrarian culture. We gave the farmers time to get the chores done and get to church by 11:00 am. Unfortunately, this culture began to wane around 1860 with the onset of the railroad and industrial age.

Most of our churches have worship services for the farmers who no longer exist.

We haven’t changed a lot in the past 160 years. I guess life moves slowly for a lot of churches.

In the meantime, a dramatic shift is taking place in the American workplace. More people are working on weekends, many of them on Sundays, than ever before. But most churches haven’t moved their worship day at all. It’s still on Sunday mornings.

We keep hoping the farmers will show up.

While I would not advocate abandoning Sunday worship, I wonder why so few churches offer a non-Sunday alternative. There is a huge demographic we are missing: those working on the weekends. Consider these issues:

According to a 2016 time study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 34 percent of the workforce works on the weekend. Do the numbers. The U. S. workforce is approximately 160 million. That means over 54 million work on the weekend. Please read the preceding sentence again. 54 million. That’s staggering.

  • If someone works either day, Saturday or Sunday, they are not likely to attend Sunday services. For Saturday workers, Sunday becomes their day off after a tough work schedule.
  • The reasons for not doing weeknight services are rarely theological. If you have a biblical conviction that Sunday should be the only day to have a worship service, stick with your conviction. For the rest of you, please consider this issue prayerfully and carefully.
  • If your church has Sunday-only service or services, you are missing out on reaching one of three working persons. I really don’t think most church leaders realize how huge this number is.
  • Most churches will not do a non-Sunday service because they’ve never done it before. Such is the most common excuse of dying churches.
  • Some church leaders are rightfully concerned about leader exhaustion doing a service on a day other than Sunday. I get that. Such is the reason many leaders must view the non-Sunday service as their time of service. Many will not attend Sunday services at all. And a number of churches moving in this direction are doing so with a minimum of volunteers, such as a guitar-playing worship leader, and childcare only for the youngest kids.
  • A few churches are experimenting with Thursday evening services on long holiday weekends. They are often able to reach the members who will be traveling over the long weekend.
  • The challenges of weekend workers are exacerbated by our members who travel many weekends, by those involved in sports leagues, and by those who just see Sunday as a day off. Some may see offering an alternative service to be a compromise to culture. Others may see it as an opportunity to reach those in culture.
  • The two fastest-growing demographics working on weekends are entrepreneurs and those with more than one job. The rise of the entrepreneurial society and the gig economy virtually guarantees this weekend workforce will increase, probably substantially.

The weekend workforce is not a future trend; it is a staggering present reality.

Some churches will adjust and seek to reach these workers.

Others will continue doing business as usual.

They are likely hoping and praying the farmers will show up on Sunday morning.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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Clarity Process

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How Long is Too Long? 5 New Sermon Length Trends

One thing is for certain regarding the proclamation of God’s Word: preaching is still primary for both pastors and church members.

Because of the centrality of preaching in most churches, it is always fascinating to learn what developments are taking place in the preaching ministry. I recently conducted another social media survey on sermon length. This time, however, I asked an additional question. The two questions were as follows: What is your typical sermon length? Has it changed over your ministry?

We received nearly 1,000 responses. With that volume of great feedback, we were able to see five clear trends:

  1. Pastors are, for the most part, changing sermon length over the course of their ministry (Trending Up ⬆). Over eight of ten pastors indicated they had made significant changes to their sermon length in their ministries. There were a number of reasons for the changes, but the most common was adapting to listening patterns of the congregation.
  2. Sermon length is down slightly over the past four years (Trending Down ⬇). The median length of the sermon of those surveyed was 27 minutes, down from 29 minutes four years ago.
  3. Though a number of respondents indicated changes to sermon length were longer than previous years, by a 3:2 margin more pastors were moving to shorter sermons (Trending Down ⬇). Since this point is similar to number two above, you would expect more pastors moving to shorter sermons than to longer sermons.
  4. Many of the pastors who were resistant to shortening the length of their sermons were compelled to do so when they went to multiple services, multiple sites, and/or multiple venues (Trending Down ⬇). This pastor said it well: “I preached around 50 minutes until we added a second service. I had to trim the length by 10 minutes just for logistical reasons. It about killed me!”
  5. The number of pastors whose sermon length is an outlier (fewer than 15 minutes or greater than 50 minutes) is small but stable (Trending Stable ⬅➡). Fewer than five percent of the pastors who responded preach sermons whose length is an outlier because of its brevity or longer length. The number of outliers has not changed significantly, but the advocates of either extreme tend to be clear and eager to verbalize the benefits of their sermon lengths.

Thank you, first, to the Church Answers’ community for starting this discussion. And thank you to the hundreds of you who responded.

What is your typical sermon length? Has it changed over the course of your ministry?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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5 Next Steps to Create a Next Visit for Guests

We are living in a world of post cultural Christianity. Our churches can no longer expect guests to show up just because we have the doors open. We have to be prayerful. We have to be intentional.

This post is, by its nature, very practical. But it can be a positive step in Great Commission obedience as you seek to expose people to the gospel and create more gospel conversations.

These, then, are five key steps to reach and retain guests. Most of these can be implemented in your church right away.

  1. Create a culture of inviting. One of the primary reasons our churches do not have guests is straightforward: We are not inviting people to come. In my research for the book, The Unchurched Next Door, we found that nearly eight of ten unchurched persons would come to church if we invited them and accompanied them to the worship services. If we invite them, they will truly come. I will address this issue more fully next week.
  2. Make certain you have a positive “guest flow.” Nelson Searcy, in his book Fusion,created this guide for the number of first-time guests each week in our worship services. If the number of first-time guests in your church is fewer than 5, you need to find out where the challenges reside.
  • 3 first-time guests for every 100 in worship attendance: maintenance mode
  • 5 first-time guests for every 100 in worship attendance: growth mode
  • 7 first-time guests for every 100 in worship attendance: rapid growth mode
  1. Be prepared for the guests when they arrive. The studies we have seen indicate we have between five and seven minutes to make a good first impression when the guests do arrive. Again, I will elaborate on this issue more in future posts.
  2. Find a way to get contact information from guests. Ask guests to complete a guest card, but remember less is more. If we simply ask for an email and a name, we are likely to get higher responses. And if we say we will make a contribution to a local ministry (such as $5 for every card turned in), we will get even a higher response.
  3. Contact guests within 24 hours. If you have their email address, send them a quick but personal email. If you have their mobile number, send them a text. These contacts can be brief, but they almost always increase the likelihood of a return visit. Your goal is not only to reach guests, but to retain them as well.

As you have requested of me, I am being more intentional about suggesting practical resources to accompany these blog posts. A good resource is “How to Retain Guests More Effectively.”

Reach guests. Keep guests. Have gospel conversations.

See what God will do.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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10 Ideas About Church in Ten Years

In the blink of an eye, ten years will pass. The pace of change is staggering, and there is no reason to believe the pace will slow down. In the comments on my blog post last week on growth rates among churches the previous ten years, a prescient reader asked me to look forward. “What do you think a healthy church will look like in 2029,” he asked.

I am grateful for his question. And though I can’t know with precision the shape of our churches in ten years, I do see some outliers and trends pointing us toward some key directions. Let me take those signposts and fast forward ten years.

Keep in mind, these changes are representative of the healthy churches in 2029. I may deal with the unhealthy churches in another post.

  1. There will be a high intentionality of evangelism and gospel presence. We passed through the phase of programmatic evangelism without much impact. We are presently in the stage of non-intentionality, and our low-conversion churches reflect that reality. Healthy churches will be highly intentional about evangelism without it being program-driven.
  2. These churches will be favored in the community. Someone recently asked me if most churches had a negative reputation in their communities. I told her no, that most churches have no reputation in their communities. The healthy church in 2029 will seek see the community as a place to serve and minister, rather than a pool of prospects to increase attendance. Look also for neighborhood churches to increase their impact in communities.
  3. The majority of healthy churches will be multi-site, multi-venue, or multi-day. They will learn the lessons of the 19th century churches that moved worship services to 11 am to accommodate the farmers in an agricultural culture. As long as we don’t compromise biblical truths, we need to reach people where they are. More of them are working or unavailable on Sunday mornings. Will we move out of the 19th century to get to 2029?
  4. The digital church will be clearly defined. Today, we debate about the digital church. Is the online church really a church? By 2029, healthy churches will have settled that issue. I anticipate the digital church will be viewed as a vital and complementary component to the in-person church.
  5. Healthy churches will not have members holding the congregation back for sacred cows and traditions. The members of the healthy churches will embrace change rather than fight it. They will be more concerned about the gospel in the community rather than the style of music in the sanctuary. Change-resistant members will move to unhealthy and dying churches where they will exacerbate the sickness and speed the process of dying.
  6. Most worship gatherings of healthy churches will be 200 and under. Even the large churches will have smaller worship gatherings; they will just have more of them. As noted in number three above, one of the biggest changes will be worship services on times and days other than Sunday morning.
  7. Churches will feel more connected within networks rather than denominations.Churches will not have to choose between the two, but they will likely spend more of their energies in networks. Denominations will continue to be the doctrinal identity of many churches, but networks will become the functional identity. Denominations and their respective entities will be wise to create networks or connect with existing networks.
  8. Healthy churches in 2029 will become more innovative in how they utilize their facilities. Most congregations don’t come close to utilizing their facilities effectively today. The lack of usage throughout the week is terrible stewardship. Many healthy churches will figure out ways to partner with community businesses and organizations with their facilities.
  9. Healthy churches will be part of a groups revolution. Though the name will be different and the functions not identical, we will likely see a growth in the staff position that historically was called minister of education. This staff person, whether full-time, part-time, or volunteer, will become the key leader to seek to move as many members to groups as possible.
  10. Corporate prayer will be central to the healthy church in 2029. Church leaders and members will figure out how to move prayer from the fringes of poorly-attended gatherings reading a list of who is sick, to powerful and Spirit-empowered corporate prayer. As culture turns more negative against Christianity and churches, we must have God’s power to respond.

With the obvious exception of biblical truth, churches must change or die. Where is your church today? Where do you think it will be in ten years?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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Does Your Church Need to Know the Pastor’s Salary?

This question comes to the Church Answers’ team and me a few times a month. It often evokes some pretty strong emotions. Can a church member (or, in some cases, guests) look at a church budget and know exactly what everyone on church staff earns?

The tension is between transparency and misunderstanding. On the one hand, transparency is usually a good default posture. Especially in congregational polity, church members have final authority over major decisions. It just makes sense they should have visibility to pastor and staff salaries.

On the other hand, putting detailed staff salaries before all the church members can be a problem for the following reasons:

  • Many church members get confused over the term “packages.” For example, pastors with a “package” of $60,000 may only be making $45,000. The difference is the benefits, such as retirement and health insurance. The package is the total cost to the church. The salary (which sometimes includes housing) is what the pastor actually gets. Many church members view the package as the equivalent of a salary, but it definitely is not. In fact, most church members likely do not know their secular-equivalent package in their vocations. In other words, they do not know the costs of their benefits to their employer.
  • Visibility of a specific salaries and benefits of pastors and church staff can create tensions among the staff. Can you imagine what it would be like if secular employers posted all the salaries of their employees each month?
  • Church members may view the specifics of staff salaries and compare them to their own compensation. That too can be a source of tension.

For these reasons, I lean toward not including specific compensation in a budget that is made available to church members on a regular basis. Depending on church polity, a possible approach to the transparency/misunderstanding tension would be:

  • Include total salaries in a single line on the budget.
  • Include total benefits in separate line items on the budget. These benefits could be segregated by their respective purpose: health insurance, retirement, etc.
  • Show expense reimbursements, such as automobile expenses, as separate items. They should not be included as either compensation or benefits.
  • Have a system in place where church members can view individual salaries by appointment, such as meeting with a member of the personnel committee, elders, or specific group responsible for personnel issues.

To be clear, every church is different, and the polity of a church may be the determinative factor in how these matters are handled. Because we get similar questions quite often, we thought this approach might be helpful for some churches.

This issue usually generates some lively discussion.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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The Real Reasons Your Search Process is Taking Too Long

I wish I had objective data on the length of time between pastors. I can say anecdotally the time is much longer than it used to be. A whole lot longer.

To be clear, I know we cannot presume on the call of God. I get that. But, all things considered, more and more churches are struggling because they are going longer periods of time without a pastor. Attendance often declines. Budget giving often declines. Morale often declines.

So why are search committees and appointment processes (I will refer to all search entities as search committees for simplicity) taking so much longer? I see six clear reasons.

  1. There are no longer ready-made networks to provide a steady supply of pastors for churches. Denominations and other networks could provide a list of names in the past, many of whom could fit most churches in that network. Today, churches are different more than uniform. Communities are more diverse. The “denominationally-groomed-and-ready” pastor just does not exist today.
  2. Search committees are often poorly equipped to find pastors. They typically do not know the right places to go and the right people to ask. They don’t have time to devote to seeking applicants and culling through resumes. Most don’t know the profile of a best qualified applicant.
  3. Search committees often still use old paradigms. Advertise in denominational or network publications. Wait for a flood of resumes to arrive with mostly unqualified candidates. Go to a candidate’s church to hear a sermon. Go through resumes one by one in an excruciatingly slow and painful process. Wait. Wait. Wait.
  4. Many search committees don’t use a search firm. I’ve heard all the reasons not to do so. Some think it costs too much. But most churches save a lot of money and time using a search firm. For example, during prolonged interim periods church giving usually declines—which can lead to financial struggles. Other churches think the search firm chooses the pastors for them. No, the search firm finds qualified candidates for the church to choose
  5. Search committees often represent a cross section of the church rather than the most qualified members. I understand the sentiment to have every group in the church represented. Unfortunately, such representation is not often commensurate with qualification. And an unqualified search committee is most often a slow search committee.
  6. Some search committees and churches don’t think it is spiritual to find a new pastor too quickly. In most cases, a church should be able to get a new pastor in six months or less. God is really able to work that punctually. There is nothing inherently spiritual about taking a year or two years or more finding a new pastor. In fact, in many cases it is really bad stewardship to take that long.

Many churches are simply taking too long to find a new pastor.

As a consequence, many congregations are struggling without a leader to guide them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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These Reasons Are Why Giving is Down in Your Church

You are trying to comprehend why the giving levels in your church are down. You may know several possibilities, but you aren’t certain. As I have worked with several congregations, we have isolated the issue to one or a few causes. See if any of these causative factors may be at work in your church.

  1. Lower attendance. Okay, I may be stating the obvious here, but it is worth noting. I spoke with a pastor whose church’s giving is down 15 percent from a year ago, and the attendance is down 12 percent. There is a high correlation between attendance and giving, even if you have a strong online giving component. It is also worth noting that attendance frequency is down in many churches, if not most churches, as well. The family who attends three times a month is more likely to give more than the same family attending two times a month.
  2. Generational shifts. Builders, those born before 1946, are more likely to give to the church out of institutional loyalty. Boomers and Gen X have the highest family incomes, but their giving is not as consistent. Millennials thus far are not strong givers in our churches. In many churches, the Builders are being replaced with Millennials. In other words, more generous givers are being replaced with less generous givers.
  3. Giving to purposes rather than organizations. From the Builders to the Millennials, there has been a dramatic shift in the motivations for giving. The Builders, as noted above, are more likely to give out of institutional loyalty. Thus, church leaders could exhort this generation to “give to the church,” and they would respond positively. The Millennials, however, give to purposes rather than organizations. Church leaders must demonstrate with specificity how the funds in the church are being used for a greater purpose. And that greater purpose must be real, personal, and compelling.
  4. Little teaching on giving. The pendulum has swung too far. In an overreaction to the constant pleas for money twenty years ago, more church leaders are hesitant to even mention the spiritual discipline of giving. Frankly, many of our church members do not comprehend that giving is both a mandate and a blessing, because they have not been taught about it in their churches.
  5. Not as much discretionary income among churchgoers. Before you object to this point, I know fully our discretionary income should not be the basis for our giving. God should get the first fruits, and not the leftovers. But the stark reality is that many people who do give to churches only give their leftovers, or their discretionary income. Though the economy has improved over the past few years, most of the growth in discretionary income has been in the top 20 percent of household incomes. Yet those who attend our churches are more likely to be a part of the other 80 percent. Simply stated, most of our church members have not seen increases of any size in discretionary income.

There are obvious actions we can take toward this challenge. We can teach and preach unapologetically on biblical stewardship. We can be clearer on the purpose or the “why” behind the giving. And we can offer different mechanisms for giving to make it more like a spiritual habit rather than a negligent afterthought. My church, with under 200 in attendance, offers traditional giving, online giving, and text giving. Many churches still do quite well with envelope giving.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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This is the Most Toxic Threat a Church Member Will Make

One of the most toxic statements a church member or group of church members can make is, “We pay the bills at this church.” Not only is it unbiblical, it is clearly divisive. It creates an “us versus them” mentality in the church.

Why is the statement so harmful? Here are five reasons.

  1. It makes giving more like paying country club dues than biblical stewardship. Thus, a certain level of giving by a member or a group engenders a sense of entitlement. The people who give with this attitude never really let go of the funds. They continue to hold on to them with strings of conditions.
  2. It is manipulative. In essence, giving becomes a controlling mechanism. If the church doesn’t do what I want it to do, I will withhold my funds. I have known church members and groups of church members that have held onto funds until they finally got their way. At that point, they released the funds to the church. They were truly holding the church hostage.
  3. It becomes a way of circumventing the budget. Most churches approve a budget every year. It becomes the guide for the church to steward the funds given to the congregation. On too many occasions, a malcontent in the church decides he or she doesn’t like the approved plans for spending, so they threaten to withhold their funds. One person told me smugly he knew the church was not spending funds in the best way, so his implied threat to withhold funds was necessary. I wonder what he thinks of the biblical story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44). She gave without reservation, but I doubt the Temple was the paragon of stewardship excellence.
  4. It creates different classes of members in the church. There are those who have and who can make such threats, and there are those who do not have and, thus, have insufficient resources to make demands. As noted earlier, this statement is both inflammatory and divisive.
  5. It is contrary to the servant spirit of Christ. Jesus was crystal clear on his mission. He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Some church members utter the toxic statement, “We pay the bills at this church” to get their own way. Jesus made the sacrificial statement that He would put others before Himself, so much so that He would die for others.

“We pay the bills at this church.”

It is a toxic statement.

It is an unbiblical statement.

It is contrary to the spirit in which the Lord Himself came to serve, to give, and to sacrifice.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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Mike — 02/18/19 10:38 am

Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?

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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 S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent information, thank You
 
— Thomas TC Gotcher
 
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
 

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The Surprising Connection Between Attitude and Attendance

There has been much written on declining attendance in churches. Specifically, many of us have addressed the issue of attendance frequency where even “active” church members attend less frequently.

Many pundits have rightly observed the impact of culture on the church, where church is, at best, just another activity. We have also addressed the issue of increasing choices. Many church members and attendees have so many opportunities to do other activities, and they can often afford them like never before. Still others note the increasing numbers of people working on Sunday, precluding them from attending worship services that day. Even more lament the reality that many children’s sports have been moved to Sundays.

These reasons are sound. But behind many of these reasons are attitudinal issues. These attitudinal issues are really the sources of the problem. And there are four attitudes in particular that have a devastating effect on church attendance.

  1. The attitude that church membership is not biblical. One commenter on this blog challenged me: “Show me where church membership is in the Bible.” I asked her to check 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul said clearly, we are members of the body of Christ. He wrote that letter to a local church in a local community. You might argue that many churches have adapted cultural forms of church membership, where it looks more like a country club membership or a civic club membership. Probably so. But don’t take those biblical deviations to be an excuse not to practice biblical church membership.
  2. The attitude that we are part of a church primarily to get our needs met. It is this attitude that causes much division in the church. We demand our own worship style, our preferred order of worship, and the building to be built, painted, and arranged just as we demand. But we are to be functioning members of the body of Christ for the greater good of the body. If you have any lingering doubts, read Philippians 2:1-4. Look at verse 3 in particular: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves.” Take that verse to your next church business meeting.
  3. The attitude that church leaders are not held to a higher standard. I hear it again and again from pastors and church staff. It’s frustrating that many church members have a lackadaisical attitude about church attendance. But it’s exponentially more frustrating when deacons, elders, and other church leaders do not set the example, when they attend infrequently and demonstrate low commitment. Take a few moments to read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 to see clearly that church leaders are indeed held to a higher standard.
  4. The attitude that expectation of faithful church attendance is legalistic. For sure, we can turn any admonition into a legalistic trap. But God gave us the gathered body to encourage and love one another. Look at Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

We shouldn’t take breaks from our church family any more than we should take breaks from our own family. We are to serve, to love, to encourage and, simply said, to be there.

Declining church attendance has at its core unbiblical attitudes.

It’s time to stop pretending otherwise.

> Read more from Thom.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming 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.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent information, thank You
 
— Thomas TC Gotcher
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.