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.
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.”
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).
In the spring of 2011, Andrea and I had reached giving goals that we had set for ourselves the year before. We were feeling great that God had so blessed us that we were able to give at levels we had never attained before.
Having given beyond the tithe for years, this marked a new level of generosity for us. And, to top it off, these goals were reached during the same year our youngest entered college.
Now we were paying the expenses for two to be in full-time higher education, and yet, giving at never-before-seen levels! Thank you, God.
Here is the final post in my six-part series about stories.
What do you suppose is going through the minds of your church family when you mention money? Sure, there’s the standard, “Oh, great. Here we go again with the money sermon again.” But what else might be going on? Is it possible that some, if not many, are thinking one or more of the following?