The number of church leaders I engage with who have no process for saying “thank you” to those who contribute to and support local church ministry is shocking to me. I’ve heard just about every reason you can imagine.
But deep within those justifications is the real heart of the matter: Free-will tithes and offerings are quite simply expected of the people in the pew by many of those who stand in the pulpit. Why should you thank someone if you expect them to do it? That assumption is a fundamental obstacle to leaders who wish to create a culture of stewardship and generosity in their congregation.
The New Year is here. Whatever challenges you lamented or victories you celebrated in 2016, you’re beginning again. And that’s exciting!
A new year also ushers in a new ministry budget that must be funded. Depending on where you landed in 2016, you may already feel exhausted from having to start all over again. The good news is, more than $100 billion flows through religious organizations every year. That means there is plenty of money available to fund your ministry vision. The opportunity then is to harness those available dollars for Kingdom things, particularly local church ministry.
If there is one thing this election cycle revealed, it’s that politics will never be the same again. The traditional paths of communication, what it means to be a presidential candidate, and how to win an election have all been redefined. We’ll spend the rest of our lives trying to unpack and understand what just happened.
But pollsters and politicians aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of a shifting climate. Church leaders are feeling it, too, both in the offering plate and the pew. And those changes have tremendous implications on what ministry will look like in the future.
When it comes to giving, generosity, and stewardship, a wide gap remains between the view from the pew and the view from the pulpit. That disconnect has not yet fully translated into a paralyzing funding crisis for most local churches, but given current course and speed, it will if nothing substantive changes.
As I talk to pastors and executive staff members across the country, I hear similar things ...
I had the privilege of meeting Kevin Lee almost one year ago. Vanco Payments had just launched a blog and had reached out for me to provide a few guest posts. That was the first time I had ever heard of Vanco. After a little research, it became clear that Kevin and Vanco were already helping more than 20,000 churches be more generous by providing exceptional digital giving tools.
Vision-driven capital campaigns are all the rage, just like annual pledge drives and “Prove the Tithe” events were a generation ago. But my problem with hanging the success of your next financial campaign on vision alone is that it’s a big gamble. I’m not willing to take it—and neither should you.
I think I understand why the vision conversation feels so comfortable to religious professionals.
If you’ve been a pastor for any length of time, you’ve likely led your church through a capital campaign. It’s a special time filled with excitement, wonder and a world of possibilities. This can be one of the healthiest vehicles for spiritual growth any church can deploy.
When God inspires you to do a Kingdom project, it will always feel bigger and more complex than your current knowledge, resources and congregation’s experience. That’s why a capital project can be a time of tremendous growth.
But There Is Too Much At Stake To Leave It To A Game Of Chance.
Ministry is more than numbers, but numbers indicate the effectiveness of your effort and investments. Your time, energy, staff and money are limited. Therefore, you have to make sure the time, effort, and resources you are investing personally and through your staff are providing a worthy return. I’m not suggesting that “profit” is the goal. But if you can’t connect your effort to measurable impact, you’re risking a very expensive exercise with very little to show for it.
It is vitally important that you and your ministry leaders understand what it will take for you to realize the God-inspired vision you see so clearly now. You can’t just “say something” and expect it to magically come to pass. And don’t think your passion on the platform will instantly overcome the built-in skepticism of the person sitting in the pew.
There is too much at stake.
If you can't answer that question ... neither can the PERSON in the PEW.
That's a BIG problem. And a proven strategy to NOT FUND your organization.
This is your most important asset. Focus on it. Lose sleep over it. Write it over and over until you get it right.
THEN ... practice saying to yourself.