We recommend to pastors and church leaders that you take the time to "step out" your congregational giving this year. Using a chart like the one in the photo (from Herb Miller's Grow1 Stewardship Program), you can easily see how people are supporting the church as well as challenge members to consider moving up a step. Many congregations share the concern that only a few members are generating most of the church's gifts; at a recent conference we heard from a pastor whose church has 10% of the members giving 45% of its budget. Analyzing the giving through steps can help church leaders identify opportunities for growth in generosity as well as give the congregation a simple and clear picture of their contributions.
Resources For Pastors
In an op-ed about planned giving in the Winston-Salem Journal last winter, there was a statistic that I found interesting. The author (Mike Wells) said that roughly 70% of Americans give to charities of some kind during their lifetime, but less than 6% give to charities at their death. He went on to say that “perhaps all of us should give more thought to providing financial support beyond our lives for those efforts or organizations that advance the values and principles which we hold dear”. [Wells, M. (2014, December 6). Remember Charities in your Estate Planning.
When we meet with church leaders about encouraging their members to remember the church in their estate plans, we sometimes hear from people who think planned giving efforts are for larger, wealthier congregations that are "better off". This isn't true! To emphasize this point, we share the following story from Michael Reeves, author of "Creative Giving":
A congregation in a small farming community received word that a former resident and church member had included the church in her will. Her declining health had required her to relocate from the community several decades earlier in order to be closer to her family.
From the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, verses 13-21: Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But Jesus said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
"The single biggest factor determining whether a church is going to get healthier is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the pastor."
Pastors are the key to change and transparency in their congregations; if the pastor isn't leading the way, change can't take place. What sets pastors apart as leaders? According to the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving:
They lead from the front. They are more than cheerleaders; they personally embody the values and the vision of the congregation. They build a cohesive leadership team, demand organizational clarity, and inspire and birth trust.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word "campaign"? Politics? The military? Or, do you think of money, as "campaign" is often paired with "capital"? Many churches resist considering capital campaigns as they involve money and are a lot of hard work. Luckily we found several Moravians eager to talk about their recent experiences with capital campaigns for their churches, or, in the case of one, for Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp in the Southern Province. An article about these conversations will be published in an upcoming issue of The Moravian magazine, but we're excited to give you a preview of them on our website over the next few weeks.
In September 2013 a small group of Moravian clergy from the Northern and Southern Provinces gathered in Winston-Salem to discuss the important connection between money and ministry. We later asked those pastors to reflect on the conversation, and Rev. Russell Williams shared these thoughts: