Can Your People Afford to Give?

Can your people afford to give? Can they afford not to? Here’s the current reality: Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency.

Pastors Fund Visions

That statement caught my eye in a personal and revealing article called “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans“ that recently appeared in the Atlantic. And as a ministry leader, this should sound a huge wake up call.

In this article, which is lengthy but definitely worth the read, the author admits his dismal failure in managing his own personal finances. He takes us on a very raw and personal journey through his trials of financial management on which we soon learn that, while his outside appearance reflected a financially secure lifestyle, behind the curtain hid the true realities of living paycheck to paycheck. And he’s one of almost half of all Americans.

Statistics shared include:

  • When asked how they would respond to a $400 emergency, 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. (Federal Reserve Board survey)
  • Only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. (Bankrate survey, 2104)
  • A total of 55 percent of households don’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income. (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2015)
  • Of 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses. (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2015)
  • The American Psychological Association conducts a yearly survey on stress in the United States. The 2014 survey—in which 54 percent of Americans said they had just enough or not enough money each month to meet their expenses—found money to be the country’s number one stressor. Seventy-two percent of adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and nearly a quarter rated their stress “extreme.”

Church Financing and Stalled Building Projects

During the last 18 months I’ve had multiple opportunities to speak at seminars and conferences in different parts of the county. In most instances, there have been in the audience architects, builders, general contractors and other professionals who serve churches and faith-based ministries through the construction industry .

church financing

During Q & A sessions and one-on-one conversations, the prevailing discussion centers around church financing. The common reason for stalled building projects among churches relates to the client’s inability to secure financing for their project.

Multiple Income Streams: A Necessary Strategy for the 21st Century Church

In the 21st century, having intentional multiple income streams is a necessary strategy. Here are several of the most popular income streams.

Regular undesignated gifts are used for funding the congregation’s annual ministry plan (the budget). Encourage donors to establish a monthly pattern for their contributions. The key is to get donors to commit to a monthly amount and then increase the monthly amounts every year or as often as possible.

Learning a New Language

Language is important part of growing generosity in our congregations. Consider the following alternative words that, if used consistently, can create a new world of giving among your membership.


Annual Ministry Plan instead of budget

Estimate of Giving Card instead of pledge card

Compassion Card instead of pledge card

Contributions instead of income

Costs of Ministry instead of expenses

Generosity instead of stewardship

Solutions (the church’s) instead of needs (the church’s)

Ministry Successes instead of budget deficits

Ministry Expansion Project instead of capital campaign