Giving to religion is projected to decline in 2013! You have probably seen those headlines or something similar. Several studies are showing that while other sectors of charitable giving are slowly increasing, giving to religion is still lagging behind and even seeing a continued decline. That is not the kind of news you want going into your next budget planning session.
For you the real question is, Here are some thoughts…
What it doesn’t mean for you and your church…
1. That you have an excuse to use rather than looking at your own lack of stewardship planning. I have client churches in some of the hardest hit economic areas of our nation that continue to see giving remain stable and even increase. In part it is because they work hard to maintain a strong stewardship base. They have a plan and they work their plan. Are you making excuses or making plans?
2. That your churches giving has to decline. The question is not what is happening to the church near you. The real question is what is happening at your church. Not every church is facing a decline in giving. Be the exception rather than the rule!
What it does mean for you and your church…
1. Giving is not automatic. Churches in the past could count on a high number of tithers and givers to faithfully give year in and year out. Times have changed. You have to earn those dollars! We are not living in 1960 any longer.
2. You need to wake up! Most churches act like either there is not a problem or there is nothing they can do to stop the problem. Successful churches don’t have their heads in the sand. They also realize that simply hoping things will get better is not a good plan to correct the current direction of giving. Are you awake to the issues confronting your church with regards to stewardship?
3. You need to rethink your approach. Most churches IF they had a stewardship strategy it was based upon a few stewardship messages telling people they ought to give. Today you need to show what giving accomplishes and how a gift to your church is used. People will give when they see their gift has meaning. I still believe people ought to give I just think we need to look at a fresh approach at getting them there. What is your approach and can you say truthfully that it is working?
4. You need to retool. Most churches still rely upon one source to generate income, the offering plate. If this is the only platform you have to accept gifts then your giving will continue to decline. Fewer people carry cash or checks with them. The world of commerce has moved to become almost exclusively digital. Successful churches provide multiple means for people to give.
5. You need to get to work! What is the best strategy for your church? Frankly it depends. One thing I can assure you though, if you work at stewardship you are much more likely to see your giving increase rather than see it decline. So, get to work!
The Phillips Temple Example – For over a decade I have helped Phillips Temple, a predominantly African American church in Dayton, OH. Dayton has been one of the hardest hit areas economically. Scores of plants have closed in just the last decade. If you know anything about this economy you know that the last five years for African Americans have been especially difficult. African Americans are seeing higher unemployment and a decline in income more than other ethnic groups. Sadly there has not been a lot of hope for them. Yet in the midst of this decline Phillips Temple has seen giving increase! Why? One main reason is they work to see giving continue. If a church in one of the most difficult economic areas of the country can fully fund their mission and ministries what is your excuse?
My mantra is, “Reversing the decline in giving, one church at a time!” For you there is only one church you need to be concerned about when it comes to this year’s giving, yours. Work now to reverse the decline in giving at your church.
Mark Brooks- The Stewardship Coach
Founder and President, The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions
If you don’t have online giving you need to check out my company Charis Giving Solutions at http://charisgivingsolutions.com/