A new report makes the connection between preaching and the generosity habits of Christians. Why Christians give? identifies a lack of preaching and teaching about money in church as the primary reason in which the church is losing out on necessary funding.
This report was recently featured in Christian Today: Churches losing out on funds because of poor preaching on giving. In my opinion, the key paragraphs in this article are:
Most Christians, the report noted, are no longer giving habitually but rather evaluating where and how they give, making it more important for charities to understand the dynamics of giving.
Kolaneci said: “Evangelicals are not a homogenous group; they have different priorities, different motivations for giving and different preferred ways of giving,” she said.
“Leaders and organisations need to abandon a one-size-fits-all model of fundraising to truly engage with them. For those that are prepared to make the effort, the rewards are still great.”
What should leaders be thinking about?
1. Opting out of preaching on money, tithing, stewardship, and generosity is not an option (and never has been). When the pastor refuses to talk about money, he leaves the person in the pew with only one voice to shape their thinking about money…culture.
2. The blind trust that weekly tithes and offerings are automatic and will “just happen” is the same kind of blind trust investors had in subprime mortgage-backed securities. Just as those subprime mortgage-backed securities failed, so will our ability to fund the work of the Kingdom if our strategy doesn’t change. The biggest shift should be in no longer resting our entire funding strategy in weekly tithes and offerings.
3. The person in the pew is giving in the context of a new “normal.” The giver wants more information, direct access to senior leadership, input in how money is being spent, and holds expectations he or she will be informed about the ministry impact made as a result of their giving. (Think shareholders report, not simply another night of “open mic” testimonies.)
4. It’s about the giver, not about you. I tell pastors regularly, “People don’t have a giving problem, they have a giving to your church problem.” Why is that? Giving is an emotional decision. Applying a manufacturing lens (one-size-fits-all) to your approach to money and giving in your church, leaves little room for individualization and personalization of appeals. Just as we minister to people in different ways, we should deal with money in ways that are appropriate to the individual giver. You don’t talk to a high-capacity giver about suffocating debt, and you don’t talk to someone suffocating from debt about giving large sums of money for a special project.
The message of the article and report should leave pastors with a sense of hope. If we believe that God is provident, then we must also believe he will fund whatever he has called us to do. It’s the job of the leader to cultivate the gifts provided in the person in pew. I love the focus on the possibilities instead of the numerous “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” reports that have become commonplace these days.
When was the last time you preached on giving?