My work with coaching churches in matters of stewardship and generosity reveals consistent behaviors and patterns. Denomination, non-denomination, large, small, across the country… there are many similarities throughout the church in the Unites States. How does Generis uncover these behaviors and what can church leadership do about it?
A Generosity Audit is a one-day assessment of the opportunity for accelerating generosity in your specific church. The Audit is a holistic approach regarding all areas of giving, including everyday (think general fund, weekly offerings), opportunity giving (capital campaign possibilities) and legacy generosity. The work is designed to assess quantitative data (much data and information is collected prior to the one-day onsite), as well as, qualitative input from focus groups and leadership segments that have impact on the generosity conversation at your church. For more information on a specific description of a GenAudit, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the top findings from Generosity Audits in 2015?
- Database systems are too often built for the convenience of bookkeeping and rarely consider care and communication to givers that resource the church. Your internal systems need to work and have a high level of efficiency. However, the ongoing relationship to those who faithfully and generously fuel the ministry at your church should be of paramount priority. Say “Thank You” regularly; communicate updates on vision; invite them in to extended conversations (see #5 below).
- One or two specific ministry areas dominate the weekend celebration moments. I see this in the vast majority of churches. Churches have a specific weekend dedicated to this pet ministry/outreach; a special offering is taken for only this ministry. While obvious in its impact and priority, the perceived value becomes higher than the mainstay weekly ministries that have direct impact on local discipleship. This behavior can inadvertently create silos for giving in the future.
- Churches are scared. Leadership is fearful of talking about money (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFnFr-DOPf8). Leadership is fearful of looking in the mirror at their own level of generosity. While this fear does not lead to the Dark Side, it does place handcuffs on growing generous followers of Christ. The fear motivators are varied, but this fear stands tall and distinct in too many churches. This impacts everything from preaching on money to the offering moment.
- A lack of giving options keeps many weekend attenders on the sideline instead of providing an option to participate in giving. Slowly, churches are incorporating mobile giving options, but not enough churches are adopting this game-changer. I don’t carry my checkbook (I probably haven’t carried my checkbook in 15-20 years); I rarely have more than $20 in cash. But I always have my smartphone. (The landscape of mobile giving options is changing rapidly; more competitive and better mechanics to match your current systems. Send me an email if you would like specific recommendations for your specific church).
- Financial PaceSetters are too often ignored and mistreated. Over and again, this group is presumed upon to just keep giving without any investment in relationship from church leadership – specifically the Lead Pastor. To be fair, the Lead Pastor has been burdened with so many expectations that could/should be delegated to others, that the tyranny of the urgent pushes these relationships to the margins. Regular intervals of connectivity with this group develops trust and confidence; not because they are “rich”, but because they are living the life of a generous Christ-follower and they can influence others.
- Church leadership has convinced themselves of self-fulfilling prophecies. “Our people don’t have money.” “We attract hurting people and it takes them longer to get to a place where they can give.” These attitudes are permeated through verbal and nonverbal communication. The attitudes become accepted norms and the bar is lowered for everyone. I have also seen these excuses used as a cover up by leadership that does not want to talk about money.
What can church leadership do to change these behaviors? The outcome of the Generosity Audit is a Strategic Plan for Accelerating Generosity. This Plan brings the intersection of faith and finances to a meeting place with current realities at the specific church. A tool box of best practices from abundantly funded churches and consultant experience is available for building a six month plan to address shortcomings, build on available systems and initiate new collaborative methods for normalizing the generosity conversation within the framework of discipleship.