I just returned, blessed after the 2014 UnEarth Conference in Jacksonville on March 31, and was also able to share information with church leaders from across the country about the topic of generosity. This time I spoke about three specific keys that can impact the giving culture in your church.
Giving in the US (as a percentage of GDP) is lower today than it was during the great depression of the early 1930s. Why is that? Could it be that people don’t have a giving problem, but a giving-to-your-church problem?
Could it be that people aren’t seeing the results of their giving to your church? They want to give where they know their gift will make the greatest impact. Could it be a decrease in loyalty? The “that’s my church” mentality is on the decline.
So often we hear the word stewardship and we think of “time, talent and treasure.” Good old T3. If you’ve been in church for any time at all, you’ve likely heard stewardship in this context. We have been ingrained to focus on those things that the church preaches and teaches during the generosity emphasis. (At least I hope the church is preaching it!)
Years ago it was impressed upon me that stewardship goes way beyond T3. You see, God owns everything we have – absolutely everything. He owns the cattle on a 1,000 hills – he owns the hills! Nothing exists that He did not bring into being. “…for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” Psalm 50:12b (NIV – emphasis mine)
The importance of people understanding your ministry vision and mission can never be understated. Prior to asking for any kind of support (prayer support, volunteer support, and financial support) you must help people grasp the enormity of your vision, and how the funding of that vision will make a difference in the lives of those you are trying to reach.
I was with a faith-based non-profit client this past weekend, leading a group of their high capacity givers (and potential givers) through a retreat experience designed to build ownership around the ministry’s mission. Many of those in attendance were already supporters of the ministry, but greater giving potential was still untapped.
What is the number one reason donors give for why they choose to support a particular non-profit? Their belief in the mission or cause of the organization.
They align themselves with what you are doing, they identify with you, and they are moved to support your mission. So what is your ministry mission – the answer to the question: “What are we doing?”
I am not speaking of the great commission here, which is commonly the answer I get. That should be the calling of every church.
This past weekend, Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church unveiled the next step in their campus development – and it has access to parking as its primary focus – building a bridge for $5,000,000. Now that’s exciting isn’t it?
I’ve led a couple of clients through initiatives to raise money for parking and access related issues. This can be a tough project to fund…UNLESS you successfully tie it to your mission.
For years, my family has supported a child (now a teenager) through World Vision. While the part we play is admittedly small, it is something we have chosen to do as a way of involving our children (now also teenagers – yikes!) in another lesson of giving. (Yes, for those of you wondering, this financial support is over and above our tithe, which goes in total to our church.)
To help our kids relate, we intentionally chose to support a young girl that shared the same birth month and year as our youngest daughter. It has made it easier for us to relate to our “adopted” girl in this long distance relationship.
How often do you thank your church family for their faithfulness in giving to support the ministry plan of the church?