I was having a conversation with a friend recently about her family’s giving. For some background she and her husband are in their mid 30s, her husband does well in a business that he owns and they have two small children.
One of her good friends from high school got married a decade back and they decided to spend their lives as missionaries in Africa, a brave decision indeed. My friend has given money to their ministry for a while but expressed concern to me. “I’m just not sure that what they are doing is making a difference, and we aren’t sure if we will continue giving to them.”
So you understand the situation right? A middle class to upper middle class family, with money to give, saying they may not give money to an old friend who is now in the ministry because they aren’t seeing the impact.
Does that family demographic sound familiar to you and your church? They do in mine.
So we have to make the assumption that many families in our church are making the same decision on where to give, and the major factor is whether or not the ministry in question is making impact.
Too often in churches, we assume that because someone calls our church their home that they will automatically give, and give generously. Unfortunately many of the assumptions that we make are now outdated. Most in the boomer generation would give to the church first, no questions asked. You still have those in your church, and financially they are the ones who have sustained your church for the past twenty or thirty years. But are you prepared for those in their 20s and 30s who are entering their best earning years?
You may ask, “How do we change our approach?” It can take a big shift in your culture, but let me give you one simple idea to incorporate. Celebrate the impact that your church is making, and be sure to tie it back to the money given by your members.
For example, the food bank ministry that your church supports… celebrate corporately how many people were fed and let your givers know that it wouldn’t have happened without their generosity. The teenager who was baptized after being involved in your youth ministry… celebrate that because of your givers generosity, you have a youth minister who can speak into the lives of those kids. You get the idea.
Your church is making an impact whether it be locally or globally in missions. If you aren’t telling your givers about that impact, they may question whether or not your ministry is the best place for “their” dollars (of course we know everything belongs to God). It’s a tough lesson to learn, but assuming that everyone will continue giving to your church because that’s the way its always be done, will only cause financial problems down the road. But show your people that lives are being changed, and you will see their hearts open.
This post first appeared on the Horizons Stewardship blog.