Five ways to gain more givers and raise more funds
By Stan Toler
A church without problems has either been closed or raptured. But all of the problems aren’t about music styles or carpet colors. Money problems can choke the very life out of a congregation. The “giving gap” is one the church’s greatest challenges. There are times when you could drive two armored vehicles side-by-side through that gap without waking a parishioner!
There are at least five ways to close the giving gap:
1. Put an annual stewardship emphasis on the calendar. Many postmodern congregations don’t have a handle on the importance of giving. They’re products of a society that thinks it’s more blessed to “receive” than to “give.” Put the stewardship campaign on the calendar, with as much excitement as a Christmas program. Continually and consistently teach the duties (and delights) of giving.
2. Open the books. The media focuses on the misgivings and misappropriations of the corporate world. Congregants have developed an “audit mentality.” 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 church with a reduced giving base. A new generation of givers must be raised up. Start the stewardship training in the kindergarten class instead of the “senior saints” class. Develop the giving base early.
4. Honor the committed. Many give for recognition rather than inspiration. Teach the cycle of giving—that giving is its own reward. Honor the stewardship commitments of your parishioners. Award their years of service or use their sacrificial efforts as examples in your sermon illustrations, while keeping giving amounts confidential.
5. Set 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 is the gold standard for giving? Your church needs an example as well as an exposition. Use biblical models in your teaching and preaching: Nehemiah’s renovation project, The Savior’s sacrifice, the widow’s mite commitment, the Macedonian church’s sacrifice, or the Apostle Paul’s compassionate ministries fund.
You don’t have to sing the “bottom line blues.” With some Spirit-led planning, you can lead your flock to the higher ground of godly giving.
Copyright © 2012 by Stan A. Toler
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