We are continuing in our “You Asked For It” series with another question that came from our reader survey late last year.
In case you missed the first two topics in this series, you can quickly catch up on recent posts: encouraging generosity outside the offering moment and 3 steps to creating a culture of generosity.
Today we tackle a question multiple pastors submitted with their survey. It’s one I hear quite frequently in meetings with church leaders across the country as well.
Q: How often should we preach on the subject of giving, stewardship, or generosity in general?
A: What I find in many churches today is that many pastors only preach on this topic once a year, either in a single sermon or in a sermon series. Often, the sermon or series occurs during the church’s fall “annual stewardship campaign,” in which everyone is asked to make a giving pledge for the following year. I call it “The Hunt For Green October.”
As we continue in this string of “You Asked For It” blog posts, we visit a topic today that could apply to any church anywhere: creating a culture of generosity.
This is our second post in a series of questions raised by pastors across the country through a survey I sent out late last year. (In case you missed the first post about encouraging generosity outside the offering moment, you can easily catch up.)
So, without further ado, here’s today’s question:
If we want to create a greater culture of generosity in our church, where do we begin?
Fantastic question. But before discussing where you want to go, it’s important to first determine where you are. Here are three steps to take to begin the process of creating a greater culture of generosity in your church.
Late last year I reached out to more than 500 church leaders across the country with a survey on the topic of generosity. At the end of the survey, I offered an opportunity for respondents to ask me any questions they had on the topic.
I must say, you and your fellow church leaders posed some great questions. Thank you! (In fact, one of the most common questions has started developing into an e-book I’m eager to get into your hands soon, so stay tuned for more on that!)
But first, I’m excited to start answering these questions one by one with a string of blog posts in a “You Asked For It” series. Today’s question was one raised by several respondents, so I figure that’s a good place to start.
Q: How can we include generosity as a regular element in worship beyond the weekly offering?
In a recent debrief with the senior pastor and generosity team of a current church client, we spent time reviewing the just concluded public phase of their recent initiative. (I always value this conversation with my clients - What did we learn? What worked? What didn’t? What should we change next time? It’s most helpful to get that information while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.)
The most significant takeaway for the pastor in this instance was a tool we implemented together to help establish some “generosity next steps” language the church can continue using from this point forward.
I’ve written about the concept before. We’ve discussed creating on ramps to the giving path, the discipleship path of generosity, and even a prayer journey of generosity. It’s a good idea to check back on these posts to regain a big picture perspective when you review your church’s process.
NEXT STEPS PROCESS…
This particular church has an extremely clear (and very effective) next steps philosophy for the assimilation of new people. They are brilliant at this implementation (as is reflected by their appearance on Outreach Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Churches list).
Last week’s post – “An Annual Giving Statement That Will Impress and Delight Your Givers”
– stressed the importance of leveraging your church annual giving statement mailing. A couple of dedicated readers and executive pastors sent questions to me after reading the article, expressing some frustration with the cost of following the eBook’s recommendations. They are larger churches. One even outsources their mailings to a professional fulfillment house. The expense to prep and send the personalized mailings via the US Post Office would be considerable.
“Are there affordable options to mailing out giving statements?”, they asked. Absolutely! And here is the suggestion, which is applicable for most any church, regardless of size.
The recommendation would be to move from mailing hard copies, to emailing. There are several advantages to this approach:
It’s January. Another year has passed, and a new one has begun. And for many pastors and financial church leaders, that means it’s time to prepare the (often dreaded) annual giving statements. You find yourself trying to make the somewhat daunting process more efficient every year, don’t you? But what if you focused this year on making them more effective instead?
Are your annual statements effective? By that, I mean do they encourage the future generosity of the giver?
Many churches send an official, transactional-looking statement each January to those who have given the previous year. In fact, we’ve talked about this before. I get it – it meets the IRS requirement, right? (And you would be right.)
But consider this:
“Giving statements are not an exercise in efficiency… our end goal is effective and meaningful communication with the giver,” my Generis colleague Brad Leeper says in his new e-book.
Did you know 30% of all charitable giving occurs in the month of December?
Even more shocking is this statistic – 10% of all giving occurs during the last three days of the year!
Here’s a snippet from Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index infographic recapping 2013 online giving. (view infographic online)
Many of your givers often plan to make that year-end gift on the very last Sunday of the year. This year that Sunday falls on December 28, while your people may still be out of town enjoying Christmas with relatives.
Millennials are, in many ways, shaping the future of our country. From their love of technology we talked about in last week’s post to their work habits and communication preferences, we are seeing a shift on several fronts.
Another topic to add to the list – budgeting. From a September 2014 USA Today article, we learn budgeting is a struggle for many Millennials. And with 44.5 million 20-somethings currently in the US (the nation’s largest age group), this could have long-lasting implications.
87% of Millennials say their smartphone never leaves their side, day or night. 80% reach for their smartphone first thing each morning. 78% spend more than two hours a day on their smartphone.
The common perception that young adults love their smartphones has become statistical fact. And with the extreme percentages shown in a recent Zogby Analytics study, it seems to have become an obsession.
You’ve heard me talk about “connecting the dots” for your church – helping your people see how their giving is making a difference in other people’s lives.
Because many people tend to think of giving only as a means to fund a budget, helping them connect the dots to ministry impact is critical! In fact, it encourages them to continue giving. It shows them the fruits of their efforts, that their generosity is hard at work making a difference.
I thought you would value seeing a video from one of my clients in the St. Louis area. They created this video as part of a series of videos they are showing as part of their one-year anniversary for their One Fund initiative. Wisely, they are intentionally playing the clip just prior to the offering time during the service. While it’s a bit longer than I would typically recommend, what a great way to connect the dots between giving and progress, between generosity and making a difference!