By Gary Rohrmayer
It is a fairly common statistic that 80% of funding for your ministry comes from 20% of the people in your church. Though some experts are seeing the trend move to 90/10 ratio in giving. The startling statistic for me is that the rest of the funding comes from only 30% of the congregation. Revealing that 50% of the people who call your church their home church and receive spiritual nurture and care don't contribute anything to the ministry. Dave Ramsey reinforces this by asserting that 53% of Christians have not given to their church in the last month. Click here.
Why is this?
Here are a few reasons I have discovered:
1) People are in financial bondage.
The reality is that most of your congregation is up to their eyeballs in debt. According to a recent study conducted by the Black Rock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income in the United States is now 154 percent. Your people have no margin to give anything. They can't see beyond the bills, late notices and creditors. Incredibly, 43 percent of all American families spend more than they earn each year.
Larry Burkett wrote, “Over the last decade, giving overall in Christianity has increased about 20% — but recreational spending increased almost 125% and debt spending increased 550%." Click here.
How are you going to address the financial bondage people are facing in your church?
2) People don't know how to invite God into their financial life.
The lack of understanding on why's and how's of financial management and generosity can be directly traced to the fact that two-thirds of churches have no written biblical generosity strategy. In the latest research it was discovered that only 31% of churches said they had a written strategy for inspiring people in biblical generosity. A surprising 58% said they did not have a written philosophy for teaching people what the Bible says about money and possessions. The church needs to think though and document how they will educate and inspire their congregation through the pulpit, seminars, small groups, and one on
Who could help you in putting together a comprehensive plan to accelerate generosity in your ministry?
3) People don't know why they are to give to the church.
Show me a church where there is no vision and I will show you an underfunded ministry. Most churches think the vision is achieving the mission of God. This is true but I think it is a secondary vision. The primary vision of the church is to promote love for God, worship of God and honoring God in our lives as followers of Jesus. Do we clearly present a vision that promotes our giving as a personal act of devotion? Paul praised the Macedonian churches in that "they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us" (II Corinthians 8:5). They gave out of love first then mission second. Developing disciples who understand that their dealings with money reflects their relationship with God. As Billy Graham say it, "A checkbook is a theological document; it will tell you who and what you worship."
How are you going to encourage your church to become worship givers?
4) People don't see a big enough need.
If a congregation can't see the needs in your community, country and world it reflects a small and ineffective vision. Is your vision big enough to inspire your people towards sacrificial giving? Is your vision deep enough to grab peoples hearts? Is it broad enough to expand their horizons? Doing a year-end giving campaign is a great place to start in casting a broader vision for your congregation. If your church has done year-end giving campaigns well, it might be time to think about doing a 3 year capital campaign to expand your vision and release a spirit of generosity.
How do you determine if your vision is too small or too big?
5) People don't think the church cares about their gifts.
Recognizing and affirming the giving of your people is critical to the health of your church. Two things pastors can do to show people they care. Thank you notes and quarterly updates make a big impact. I really believe that the best thing a pastor can do to increase the giving of their people is to write a personal thank you at least once a year to every giving family in the church. I also believe that a vision letter accompanied with their quarterly giving report sent April, July and October as well as their year-end tax letter can make a huge difference showing people your care and concern for them.
What steps can you take this week to show people that their giving matters?
Finally: Remember Billy Graham’s insightful challenge, "A checkbook is a theological document; it will tell you who and what you worship."