By Stan Toler
A church without problems has either been closed or raptured – and a church’s problems are usually about more than just music styles or carpet colors. It’s money issues that can choke the life out of a church. If it feels like you could drive two armored vehicles side-by-side through the “giving gap” at your church, try these six ideas.
1. Put an annual stewardship emphasis on the calendar.
Many postmodern congregations don’t have a handle on the importance of giving because they’re products of a culture that thinks it’s more blessed to receive than to give. Put the stewardship campaign on the calendar with as much fanfare as the annual Christmas concert. Continually and consistently teach the benefits and blessings of giving.
2. Open the books. People have developed an “audit mentality” because of recent scandals in the corporate world. Financial openness that includes regular reporting is crucial to gaining and keeping faithful givers.
3. Develop the giving base. The migration to megachurches has left some mid-size and smaller churches with a reduced giving base. A new generation of givers must be raised up. Start stewardship training in the kindergarten class instead of the “senior saints” class. Develop the giving base early for long-term results.
4. Honor the committed.
Many give for recognition rather than inspiration. Teach the cycle of giving – emphasizing that giving is its own reward. Honor the stewardship commitments of your church members. Award their years of ministry or use their sacrificial efforts as examples in your sermon illustrations, while keeping giving amounts confidential.
5. Set the giving goals. An organization that doesn’t focus on the future is stuck with the present “tense.” Setting giving goals for God-inspired, congregation-approved projects – and celebrating the victory milestones – will motivate churches of any size.
6. Use giving models. What’s the gold standard for giving? Use biblical models in your teaching and preaching: Nehemiah’s renovation project, the Macedonian church’s sacrifice, or the Apostle Paul’s compassionate ministries fund.
You don’t have to sing the “bottom line blues.” With Spirit-led planning, you can lead your church to the higher ground of generous giving.
Article “Closing the Giving Gap” excerpted from “Rev!”. Article written by Stan Toler.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”