Pastors: Is it the economy’s fault giving is down in your church?


I work with churches regarding generosity and stewardship.  I have had MANY conversations in the past two years about giving and the effects of the economy on giving.  Many churches have seen troubles as it pertains to their operating budgets and giving to special causes such as capital campaigns or debt reduction efforts during 2009 and 2010. 

However, I have spoken with and worked with many churches that are NOT seeing the same thing ove the past two years.  Many churches have experienced growth in giving during the past two years; both in tithes & offerings and in over and above giving.  There have been bumps in the road, but when was that not the case?  If you look at giving patterns in many churches over the past two years you will see a gradual growth trend. 

These two scenarios beg the question “Is the economy affecting church giving in a negative way?”  This article offers some enlightening information.  http://on.wsj.com/etZ39I

If you believe the findings in this article you are admitting that giving to churches has not been radically affected in a significantly negative way.  If that is the case and giving is down in your church then it should force you to ask the question “Why is giving down in my church?”  I would offer that giving is down in your church for the same reasons giving was down in many churches prior to the recession:

1.  Lack of a clearly communicated compelling vision.  Does your church invite people into a journey that is truly impacting the lives of people and growing the Kingdom?  If your church has such a vision, do your people know about it?  Do they know how they can engage in this journey?  Do you publically celebrate life change and generosity in your church?  Do your people experience the compelling vision or do they just read it in the mission statement?

2.  Lack of teaching on Sunday mornings regarding what the Bible has to say about tithing, generosity, and stewardship.  In my 11 years of work in this ministry I can say that the average amount of sermons per year devoted exclusively to teaching tithing, generosity, and stewardship is less than two Sundays in any given church.  (This is outside the confines of capital campaign)  I also know from my work that the average worship attendance of “active members” of a church is once every three Sundays.  I’ll let you do the math on those two scenarios.

3.  Lack of a clear strategy as it pertains to leading our people toward a lifestyle of generosity.  Most churches have clear plans and teams of people devoted to help implement ministry plans for worship, discipleship, evangelism, mission, youth, children, seniors, prayer and other ministries.  However, I find less than 5% of the churches I have come in contact with even have a skeleton of plan and team specifically devoted to leading people toward a generous lifestyle.  Why is that?  All of the mentioned ministries are important and vital to a vibrant church, but wouldn’t they be more vibrant and effective if our people were more generous with their resources of time, money, talent, and prayer?  What is your game plan to cultivate generosity in your people?

In 2007, when the economy was going and blowing, there were churches where giving was going up, giving was staying the same, and giving was going down.  I have seen the same thing in 2009 and 2010 and predict the same in 2011 and beyond.  Why?  See the above reasons.  We have to be more intentional about teaching our people how to live lifestyles of generosity.  Will you go on this journey with me?

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