I recently read Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by Clif Christopher. It’s a quick read that you can get through in one sitting, but it’s full of principles that you’ll come back to over and over again. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t give to churches as much as they used to. This book does a great job of helping to identify those reasons but it also gives pastors and church leaders steps they can take to move things in the right direction. If you’re a church leader and you haven’t read this book…you should. Here are some of the key ideas that stood out to me from my reading:
1. There is more Competition than ever for Charitable Dollars in America
The number of non-profit organizations is increasing every year and as a result competition for charitable dollars is increasing. It’s not that people are less charitable; it’s just that they’re directing it to other places than the church. “Since 2001, giving to religion has shown a rate of growth of 3.6%, while disposable income has increased more than 8%. People have the money and they continue to give. Religion is just no longer their charity of choice.” Church leaders should be asking themselves, “Why?”
2. Nonprofits know Why people Give while Churches just think people should give out of Obedience to the Scriptures
Multiple research studies have shown that there are three key reasons that people give: (1) A belief in the mission of the institution, (2) A high regard for staff leadership, and (3) Fiscal responsibility of the institution.
3. Nonprofits communicate from a position of Strength while Churches communicate from a position of Weakness
Nonprofits rarely, if ever, communicate about finances. What they communicate is stories of life change, real results from the investments that others have made in the nonprofit. Then they ask for more money. Churches don’t talk about results (probably because truth be told not many are actually producing many life changing results) instead they talk about their needs and how they are behind budget or need more volunteers. People with the ability to significantly invest in the Gospel work at your church don’t want to throw good money after bad. They are looking for a return on their investment, and rightly so. The Scriptures teach us that Jesus is too.
4. The Pastor should know who gives what
I know this may sound off to some but listen…(1) It will help them raise more money to fund the work of the Gospel [different people have different gifts and roles to play in the body of Christ] (2) It helps determine if what the church is doing is actually working. [people give to and support what changes their lives] (3) It allows the pastor to say thank you to donors [the church is notorious for not saying thank you]. Most people whose hair stands up at this idea simply don’t want their pastor to know what they give because they’re not being generous and following the Bible’s teachings on finances.
5. Help people Give
Many people want to obey Jesus and be generous with what they have to advance the Kingdom of God through the local church. Unfortunately many of those same people have not used the money that God has given them very well up to this point and they’re not in a position to be generous. Does your church have a plan or resource to help people learn how to manage what God has given them in a God honoring way?
6. The best way to raise money for your church is to DO YOUR JOB!
Peter Drucker wrote, “A business has discharged its task when the customer buys the product, pays for it, and is satisfied with it. Government has discharged its function when its policies are effective. The nonprofit institution neither supplies goods, services, or controls. Its product is neither a pair of shoes nor an effective regulation. Its product is a changed human being. The nonprofit institutions are human change agents. Their ‘product’ is a cured patient, a child that learns, a young man or woman grown into a self-respecting adult; a changed human life altogether.” In other words when your church consistently shows how lives are being changed, when marriages are healed, addicts find freedom, people fall on their knees and follow Jesus – people will support your church.