On October 1st I will start my 19th year working in the stewardship industry and I want to share with you what I have learned from 18 years. These are just some of the many observations I have made working with a wide variety of churches from the largest to the small. Here are some of my observations…
Giving to the Church is on a continual decline that few Christian leaders even talk about. The decline in giving is slow but dramatic. At the current rate of decline Americans will only give 1% of their disposable incomes to the Church by the year 2050. Few churches or Christian institutions are prepared for this dramatic impact upon their budgets. Many will fold.
Pastors are their own worst enemies when it comes to giving. My old boss John Maxwell is famous for saying, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Few pastors equate this to the giving arena which is why the giving decline continues unabated. The Senior Pastor is the leader of the church and if a church is to see giving increases pastors have to be involved and stay involved. For far too many pastors giving is the last thing they think about.
Churches don’t do a good job of making the “ask.” It is not that the church talks too much about money. Studies show that most churches rarely talk about money. It is that when we do talk about it we typically use guilt which never works. Instead we should be telling the amazing story of what God is doing through our churches to help make this world better. Learning how to ask for money is as important AS asking for money.
Few churches have a giving plan. This is another key reason giving is declining. We have plans for mission trips, VBS, discipleship etc. We plan for just about everything except how to increase giving and givers.
Old methods of raising funds are no longer effective. I have written extensively in the last few years of how we should stop using 1980 methods to reach the 21st century person. Yet too many stewardship firms are still using tools that simply don’t connect in today’s world we live in. Whatever partner you chose make sure they understand it is 2016!
Pledge totals and the percentage of people pledging is now lower than ever. As a result of Americans views of our fragile economy capital campaigns are seeing less pledged than prior to the Crash of 2008. At a time when employment is fragile few feel confident to sign a three year pledge card. As a result pledging percentages are down. How can I sign a three year card when I am not sure I will be employed in three months! A secondary reason pledges are off is because…
Our donor demographic is aging. 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. Baby Boomers give more than any other generation in terms of dollar amount and they are headed to retirement. What this means for your church is that even if they tithe your revenue is set to decline year by year. What Seniors are left are living on fixed incomes and are terrified of out living their money. With returns on investments low and unstable Seniors AND Baby Boomers are hesitant about making significant pledged gifts to any capital campaign. The economy and the our aging donor demographic combined is why capital campaigns are seeing less raised than in the past.
The real question is what are you going to do about all of the above? Here is what one of my clients, Shane Bishop of Christ Church wrote recently, “My mantra has been simple, “Don’t play catch up. Pay attention. Anticipate. Get out in front.”
Would you be surprised if I told you Christ Church’s giving was up by over 200% in the last ten years AND they have raised millions in successful capital campaigns? He pays attention. Oh, and he also has a Coach, me! I look forward to being your Coach.
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach
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