Monthly Archives: March 2012

Defining the Reality of Giving

I believe that Stewardship is a process of discipleship.  Because of this, we need to be able to measure the growth of the discipleship in this area of ministry just as in any other area.  There are some who have the spiritual gift of giving, but there are others that this must be cultivated in as they develop in their walk with Christ.  As such, it is important for a pastor to not only identify the types of givers that are in the church, but also develop a plan to disciple these givers into the next step of giving.  As we take an initial look at giving there are three things we need to do:

1.  WE NEED TO IDENTIFY TYPES OF GIVERS

There are 5 Types of Givers in Every Church

Never Given  (Non-Givers)

  • How many are giving nothing?
  • This number may surprise you if you haven’t been paying attention to your giving numbers.
  • The first law of leadership is to define reality (Max Depree).  By looking at “current reality” statistics, you create a benchmark to measure progress in your church’s stewardship.  You can track individual giving in a database.  From that giving record, what percentages of the households of my church are giving? What percentages are not giving? Measure the “overall stewardship health” of your church by comparing these percentages from year to year (and do the same with serving, small groups, etc.).  Find and keep the same measurement for growth year after year for comparison.

1st Time Givers (Initial Giver)

  • How many are giving between $1 and the “poverty level income”?
  • What is “Poverty Level Tithing? Determine what the government defines as the Poverty Level income – 10% of that number is “Poverty Level Tithing”.  For example, if poverty level is $12,000 then $1200 would be a poverty level tithe.
  • Motivate first time givers by being generous to people.  When you give something to people, they are more likely to give something back to you.  This is the law of generosity.  You’re goal is creating opportunities where people’s hearts become open to giving.  Your goal is not to twist their arm to give, but to allow them to give.  If your church has a culture of holding tightly to things, you’re people will too.

Regular Givers (Systematic Givers)

  • How many are giving between Poverty Level and 10% of the median income of my community?
  • How can you determine how many people are actually tithing in your church? Determine the median household income in your area and use 10% of that number.  This will give you at least an estimate number to work through.
  • The average church has about 3% of their church who actually tithe.   (Note:  Generally 20% of the congregation is giving 80% of the income in most churches. We need to change this trend.)

Tithers (Proportional Givers)

  • What would it look like if everyone at your church tithed based on the median household income of the area where you live?
  • Determine the median household income in your area and use 10% of that number as a guide for estimated tithe.

Extravagant Givers (Sacrificial Givers)

  •  How many are giving above tithe level?
  • Regardless of income, you can become an extravagant giver.  Giving away money prompts people to give.  This gives them a standard to live up to rather than a need to meet.  If you’re church isn’t doing much … these givers will give to many other organizations, because they want to give.  Make sure extravagant giving is part of your culture.
  • What is the gift of giving?  It’s a gift that takes you immediately into the sacrificial giving area.  They have the ability to encourage others to give and teach them how and why they moved into this area.  You can identify the gift of giving by the actions of the giver.
  • Use testimonies of these givers to motivate others.  Givers can share their gift of giving without sharing the amount that they gave.  They can state that they reevaluated their priorities to make sure that they put more into giving.  You don’t have to be rich in order to have the gift of giving.
  • We have to invest personally in these people in order for them to trust us enough and the vision of the church enough to give the big gifts.  Big gifts are treated outside the planning of the budget.
  • You should challenge people to give sacrificially.  This shouldn’t be an every week request, but you can effectively make it a couple of times a year.  Sacrificial is OVER AND ABOVE the level of tithes and offerings you give now.  Sacrificial giving is consistently giving over and above the tithe.

2.  IDENTIFY WHERE OUR CHURCH IS STRONG AS WE LOOK AT THE ABOVE AREAS.

  • After identifying each area within your church, which area identifies the highest percentage of your people?
  • Are there factors that have caused one of the five areas to be higher or lower because of the area where you live?

3.  IDENTIFY THE NEXT STEPS WE NEED TO TAKE TO MOVE TOWARDS DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF GIVING WITHIN OUR CHURCH.

  • What needs to take place in order to begin to make giving a bigger part of your church culture?
  • There are some related articles at the end of this blog that could give you some ideas of some steps to take to develop a culture of giving.
  • You can encourage the gift of giving, just as you would encourage any other spiritual gift.  If someone gives beyond a threshold, send a handwritten note from the pastor thanking them for their sacrificial giving.  Keep records of who it goes to so it doesn’t go out more than once.  Send an annual gift to recognize their Kingdom investment.  This could be a book about something that could inspire rest or something that would benefit them; a DVD of baptisms (visual of how their money made a difference); or even a book on giving.
  • You can take key givers out for a meal together.  Just as you would invest in developing any other ministry gift in the church or any other leader in the church, you should invest in this as well. This shows that you are willing to invest in them – ask key questions (know about them –family, where they serve, work, etc…):  How can we better minister to you as a church?  Do you have any questions about the direction of our church?  How can I pray for you?  By answering these questions it gives them value but also clears up unanswered questions that may also be hindering their giving even though they are key givers.  (Note: Don’t try to raise money at these gatherings.)


Identifying these types of givers at our church and a plan to move people forward has had an impact on not only our church as a whole, but the spiritual growth of many within our church.

Related articles


What’s Your Plan for the Offering?

There is one part of our worship service that is often an overlooked part of worship.  This is the time when we receive the offering.  Scripture teaches us that giving our tithes and offerings to the Lord is an act of worship.  As such, we should make this part of our service a continuation of our worship.  It’s not an add-on, an extra, or a break in the flow.  It is an act of worship.  As such, this is a time where people freely give their offering to God and as a church we receive the offering. (Often referred to as “Taking the offering”, but this creates an image for me of people with ski masks and guns taking what they want.)  We should have a well thought out plan not only of how we’ll receive the offering, but once it is received have a process in place that creates integrity in handling the gift.  Let’s explore three areas together:

1.  Preparing to Receive the Offering:  Have a plan of what you will do during this time.  Think intentionally, what are you talking about before you take the offering?  Script this out. This can include an orientation to the materials that you use or even direction to how the offering will be received and opportunities available for giving at other times (i.e. online, mailed in, foyer kiosk, etc…).  Also you can cast vision by telling them “Everything we do at the church happens because you give generously.”  Continue to cast vision for what the offering will be used for as they give.  Tell them things they made happen including testimonies, videos, baptisms, vbs, missions trips, community involvement, benevolence, outreach, etc… You can also tell them, “As part of your own personal accountability, we encourage you to use an offering envelope.”  Bottom line is we need to spend time before the offering preparing to receive it in a way that will bring honor to God.

2.  Receiving the Offering: Don’t surprise people by taking the offering at random times.  During the welcome, you can tell people about when the offering is going to be received.  This helps them get prepared for that time.  Remember that the offering is worship.  As a result, you should make it easy for people to give and be involved in this part of worship. I have heard many well meaning pastors at the time of their offering encourage first time guests not to give.  We wouldn’t encourage them not to praise God in singing or to listen to the message and respond, why would we encourage them not to give as an act of worship.  For some first time guests, the best thing they could do would be to give.  It may be what they need to do to open themselves up to God.  People aren’t offended by the fact that we receive an offering, it’s how we receive it, what we say, how we say it and present it (that’s why it is important that we think this through before we get to the offering).  As you are speaking during this time, don’t make it dark in the auditorium when you tell people to fill out their envelopes.  This works against what you’re trying to accomplish.  Give a minute warning before you take the offering so people can prepare to give.  We don’t want to rush the process of giving, but we also don’t want to get stuck here either.  You should be able to receive your offering in 45 seconds to one minute.  You can do this by placing a basket/bag  per row in your auditorium prior to services starting.  This can be placed under a chair/pew or a bag can be placed at the end of each row.  By doing this, everyone can ‘pass the plate’ at the same time and the ushers simply walk through and collect the baskets/bags.  Note: If you do not actually receive the offering during services, you lose money and your people miss out on a blessing.  If you use the tithe box, people forget to use them once they leave their seat.  Because of this, you don’t need to dismiss your service until the offering is completely received.

3.  After you have received the Offering: Take it from the floor to a secure room that is not in public traffic area.  Have a minimum of 2 counters (a few more could be helpful).  You can have all the ushers go to this room and count or just a few of them.  Once your in a secure place, I have found a good practice is to have this group pray for the offering, those who gave it and for God to use it for His glory.  Have a process in place for counting the offering.  Once that is complete, have those who counted sign of on the cashout sheet, envelope or any paperwork that is used in counting.  It is good to have a safe to keep your receipts in until it can be taken to the bank.  Once the offering is counted, place it in a bag and place the bag in the safe.  (A safe that does not require a code to place something into, but requires a code to get the money out of the safe is a good one to use.)  At no time in your process should you have only one person handling the money.  This is good to protect the church as well as those who are responsible for handling the money.  It is good to have a written plan of every step the offering takes from the moment it is collected until it is deposited into the bank.  By writing it down, you can identify areas that are needing improvement.

I believe that God honors our efforts as we build integrity into this process.  I have seen what has happened at our church as we developed a solid process of handling funds as they are given.  We have seen more first time givers and increased giving in general.  I can’t help but believe that God is pleased with our desire to be good stewards with what He entrusts with us.  If there is no system in place and things just happen from week to week, it is difficult to have integrity in place. (I know this, because of where we were before we developed our system.)  But if we’re faithful with the offerings and givers we have, I believe God will honor our faithfulness.

Resources


The value of a Ministry Rotation

One of the best ways to include more people in ministry is to create a rotation for your ministries that alternates weekly.  At present, we have a 6 week ministry rotation at our church.  This was started because as we continued to grow, we began to notice two things.  First,  the people who were involved in ministry were getting burned out from serving every week.   Second,  it was becoming harder to find valuable ministry opportunities for people to become involved in as they began to come to the church.  We started looking for solutions.  We realized our Children’s Ministry Director already had a 6 week rotation in place for her ministry that was working effectively.  It didn’t take us long to see that this was something that needed to be implemented into every ministry.  Instantly we had more opportunities to serve than we had people to fill the opportunities.  But this also gave us room to continue to grow and develop.  We also saw that people were able to serve in 2 and 3 ministries without conflict because of this style of rotation.  This helped them to be able to use a variety of gifts throughout a 6 week period.  Below are a five things I’ve noticed that having a ministry rotation has done at our church:

  1. It creates opportunity.  We don’t want to have people doing something just to fill a spot, but to feel valuable.  There are a lot of things that must be done every week both on site and off site in order to fulfill the mission of each ministry.  By rotating people in each week, we have provided opportunity for more people to become engaged in the ministry. They also become more fulfilled by serving in a way that can have a Kingdom impact.
  2. It creates ownership. It’s amazing to see that as people get plugged in through serving, their perspective changes.  It may seem like a subtle change, but it is very significant.  Often, before they get connected through ministry, they talk about “the church” they attend.  Once they have connected and have a responsibility, they talk about “their church”.  They have ownership and realize they are a part of something bigger than themselves.  They, in fact, are an active part of the body of Christ!
  3. It develops depth.  Let’s say that in order to accomplish the tasks of one ministry each week, we needed five people to serve.  By providing a six week rotation, we now move from five people in this ministry to 30 people overnight.  As we add these people into the ministry, we automatically change our thinking.  Instead of asking the question “How many do we need?”, it becomes “How many can we involve?”  We also have looked at breaking up the responsibilities of the ministry from having a large amount on one person to having it divided between multiple people.  This has helped us create even more depth within our ministries.
  4. It builds leaders.  In this structure, because we’re able to involve more people, we have a need to develop more leaders for each weekly rotation.  This is actually a good thing because as you build leaders in your church, you are creating a stronger foundation for growth.  Instead of needing one leader for a ministry team, we now see the need to have six team leaders, one for each week, who work with the ministry coordinator/leader.  Multiply this across your ministries and you quickly see more leaders rising up within your church.
  5. It builds ministries.  This is one of the best side effects to a ministry rotation we have seen.  As we have involved more and more people in ministry, it has freed our staff from some of the details of the ministry and allowed them to broaden the scope and reach of various ministries.  Because of this, we have been able to build more ministries to reach more people and provide more areas of opportunity to serve.
I think as we examine Scripture, we find that a shared ministry approach is a very Scriptural model for us to implement in our churches.  God moves and works in ways that often we don’t understand.  At times, He will move some of our key people out of our church because of another ministry opportunity, a job or another reason.  By having this ministry rotation in place, along with a way to develop leaders, we have discovered that when this does happen, we’re not left picking up the pieces and scrambling for who can help.  We already have leaders in place to help with the void.  My prayer is this post has been helpful as you develop opportunities for people to be used to impact the world around them.

Are you ready for a first time guest?

A first time guest in our services shouldn’t be just a pleasant surprise, but an expected part of the services.  In fact, a portion of our preparation for Sunday should be making sure we are inviting people to join us for services and encouraging our people to do the same.  With that said, we should be expecting new people to walk into our doors every Sunday.  Because of this, there are a few questions we should be asking ourselves.  I want to spend some time exploring these questions in this post.

1.  What are we doing to make them feel welcome?  It is a hard thing to walk in the front door of a new place and not know where you’re going or what waits on the other side of those doors.  Making a choice to visit a church requires our guest to ‘put themselves out there’.  You may be comfortable at your church, but this may be the first time in years that your guest has walked in the front door of a church.  There are a few things we can do to help them feel welcome.  We can start by having a team of people who are available for our guests to open the doors, give direction, help orient people to the building (restrooms, children’s, worship center, etc…), and provide a warm welcoming face as well as their name that our guests can know as soon as they walk in the doors.  Some churches have put into practice having guides available to walk with guests as they move through the complex to help them find their way around.  We also need to be sure that we aren’t just welcoming those who look like us, but we welcome everyone that Christ died for.  It’s not our place to pick and choose who has a right to worship or hear the gospel.  We should welcome everyone God brings through our front doors regardless of their outward appearance.

2.  How are we engaging them in the services?  One of the best things we can do to engage our guests is let them experience the services like everyone else.  Having guests stand up and draw attention to themselves or ‘remain seated in a seat of honor’ helps them feel more like outsiders.  I have been in services where, as a guest, I was asked to stay seated while the regular attendees and members were encouraged to greet each other and those who were sitting down.  It is an awkward place to put a first time guest in.  (Note: depending on your culture, you may find that this works great, but let the culture dictate it.)  I have found that encouraging opportunities for everyone to greet each other is good, especially if you encourage everyone to find two or three people they don’t know and introduce themselves.

3.  Is there any plan in place to follow up with them after the services?  Let’s be honest, follow up is where we normally drop the ball.  But follow up is a very important part of anything we set out to do when we’re ministering to people.  When we follow up with first time guests, it lets them know that we value them and also gives them an opportunity to find answers to any questions they may have.  This is also a great time to not only thank them for coming but let them know about how to connect in an upcoming event, groups, or ministries.  If you don’t have a plan for follow up, you can look at Our Church Assimilation Process for a plan we have used for the past few years and found it to be very effective.  All of it may not work for your church, but it may be a good place to start.  Doing something in the area of follow up is better than doing nothing at all.

4.  Are we genuinely interested in them or in the ‘numbers’ they bring?  Numbers are important for one reason and one reason only.  Every number represents a person.  Every person is an opportunity to see God do something in and through them that only He can do.  When you look at Scripture, you see that Jesus fed 5000 and that 3000 were added on the day of Pentecost.  We find accounts of numbers throughout Scripture which means that someone took the time to count how many were there, because numbers matter.  But we also find in Scripture that numbers matter to God because He is genuinely interested in people.  So much so that He sent His Son to die for them.  When we work with new comers, we can work a plan or a system, but realize that each person has a different background and a different gifting from God.  Keep this in mind as you begin to pour into them and bring them into the church.

5.  What would make them want to be a second time guest or even become a regular attendee?  We should know that every first time guest that comes through the door will not become a second time guest for one reason or another.  But the primary reason for that should be because God has another church He wants to use them at.  We should do what we can to create an atmosphere where God’s Word is not only proclaimed boldly and truthfully, but it is lived out in action on Sundays as well.  We should seek to create an environment where people are genuinely welcome no matter their status.  In the eyes of God we all are sinners who have the opportunity to be accepted in Him because of His grace and His grace alone.  Let’s treat everyone like Christ died for them and we’ll see more first timers become regular attendees.

I’ve noticed seasons where we didn’t seem to have many first time guests coming to our church.  When we looked into it, we discovered that either we weren’t inviting people to come or we weren’t prepared for them to come.  Let’s get ready for first time guests this Sunday and see what God will do.


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