For the last two plus years I have had to listen to the so called experts and others blame the economy on the supposed decline in giving to churches. First of all the decline in giving to religion is more exaggerated than documented reports show. Giving to religion actually increased albeit slightly in 2008. Last year giving to religion declined but only by .3%. This is far from what many predicted with their wildly inaccurate polling and surveys. I have watched in amazement as the leading Christian pollsters in America asked the wrong questions to the wrong people at the wrong time to give us the wrong forecast. Then when the facts came out refuting their projections we were greeted with silence as to why this missed the mark in their predictions.
Projections from Christian pollsters I believe have helped formulate an overly cautious mood in pastors and leaders. The press ignores positive news and focuses upon the negative. Thus across the land most pastors will tell you that the economy is stressing their giving. Pastors and church leaders have pulled back plans for expansion and ministry advancement for fear of the unknown. If you ask the reason for plans being placed on hold they will tell you its the economy. The economy has become the scape goat for many pastors to explain away any declines in giving or moving forward. It is time we stop blaming the economy on the state of the church. We have lost years of growth potential as a result. We have listened not to the voice of the Spirit but the reason of the age.
While it is true that many churches have seen a decline in giving it is equally true that other churches have seen increases or held their ground. As we work with churches across the country we find that while economic conditions can impact giving it does not mean ministry has to cease. It also does not mean that you cannot raise funds during a recession. As I wrote in a previous post, people find ways to spend money for what they truly want. You need only to look at Apple and McDonald’s for proof. If your giving has drastically declined the fault might not be in the economy but in a lack of leadership or in the failure to cast a compelling vision.
Those churches that are weathering this current recession are doing so in part because of the following…
Their leadership of the church is above reproach.
The people love, respect and trust their leadership.
They have a compelling vision that motivates people to give.
They are showing progress on fulfilling their vision giving people satisfaction that their gift is making a difference.
They are unashamed about preaching and teaching stewardship as an integral part of being a disciple.
They have created a positive stewardship climate.
They have a plan of action for stewardship and they work their plan.
They have not sat back and let the recession be what dictates their decision making.
They don’t blame the economy!
A couple of weeks ago I was outside of the Detroit area meeting with a church that just opened up their new sanctuary. I told the pastor that I tell people around the country about this church that built in a state that perhaps has been the hardest hit by the recession. I say, “If they can build a multi-million dollar sanctuary in Michigan, what is your excuse?”
It’s time we stopped blaming the economy!
Founder and President
The Charis Group