Ten Ways To Increase Giving At Your Church

“As a form of ministry, fund-raising is as spiritual as giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry.”  Henri Nouwen, The Spirituality of Fund-raising

Tears ran down Steve’s face as he stood before his congregation and shared his stewardship story. He had accepted the job of stewardship campaign chair simply because “if the Pastor asks me to do something, I usually do it.” Little did he know how being part of a stewardship campaign would change his life. For Steve, it all began with gratitude. Until now, he had never really stopped to think about how he had been blessed and how God’s hand had led him from growing up as the child of an addicted single mother, through medical school and on to a life filled with a loving family and very successful medical practice. “Everything I have comes from God and with great joy we will be giving the largest gift we have ever given in our lives. And truthfully, it won’t be enough.”

Now is the time to reconsider your stewardship message moving it from financial to spiritual, from mundane to missional, from painful to inspirational. Bounty will enable you to lead your congregation on a journey that not only raises money for your ministry, but will also grow your congregation spiritually in the process.

Throughout our combined thirty- plus years of working with churches, we understand that well-intentioned people with little or no experience are often charged with the seemingly insurmountable task of raising funds to cover the budget. Perhaps you find yourself faced with this exact charge. Now that you have accepted the job, you surely will be told about previous failed efforts, how the budget has been dramatically reduced and is now at a bare minimum. All you need to do is get people to increase their giving so your church can finally afford to fix the leak in the roof and give your staff their first raise in years. The finance committee is waiting in the wings preparing to finalize next year’s budget, which shows an increase of 25% over last year. And of course, over the last three years there has never been an increase in giving greater than 2%. As a member of the stewardship committee, it is expected that when all the pledges are in, you will begin developing a year round stewardship program, even though no one can really describe to you what that means. Miracles are expected to happen under your leadership, and you have no idea where to begin.

In spite of stories such as these, there are other stories—stories you will find in theses pages that will transform how you approach church stewardship. Whether or not you knew it when you accepted the position, the role of stewardship advocate is a vital one. Your role is to carry the banner of stewardship and invite others to join in the march. Clergy and laity who are charged with increasing awareness, understanding, and practice of solid stewardship principles carry a substantial responsibility—one that also brings satisfaction and reward beyond measure. The task at hand is challenging (Kingdom building always is!) but your work is holy work and has the potential to change you and your congregation forever. Your service will liberate those who are weighed down by their own wealth, and your efforts will change the hearts of those who want to live out God’s will rather than their own. Through your faithfulness, church members will deepen their faith. Lives will be enriched. The ministry will transform.

Our goal for writing Bounty was to honor and support stewardship advocates over the years in the churches we served. We now extend that same honor and support to you, so that the insights and practices found in Bounty will be effective for you and your church. Bounty envisions stewardship to be “grounded in gratitude, revealed in prayer, lived in faith,” Bounty offers the only approach to stewardship development that truly works long term—a spiritual one. At the forefront it entails seeking God’s guidance for the use of the blessings we have been given, bringing us closer to God. This God-given inspiration moves us from searching for the right annual campaign program, or the perfect sermon, to an entirely new way of thinking about who we are and what we are called to do. By incorporating the practices of Bounty, you will lead your church family to experience the genuine joy of generosity.

The ten best practices described in Bounty will guide you in your stewardship role. These practices will challenge you to replace ineffective number crunching with prayerful discernment. Both clergy and laity will benefit from Bounty’s explanation of how old habits can inadvertently sabotage efforts to raise money for ministry. In addition, Bounty’s teachings show how certain conversations, such as ones about tithing, can help or hurt your stewardship efforts. The countless examples we include here are drawn from our experiences; the practical tools we provide will help to lighten your load.

We’ve yet to hear anyone on a stewardship committee say they thought their job was easy. It’s not. Achieving all that God desires for you and your stewardship ministry requires a focused and intentional effort from you, your committee, and your entire church membership. You may even find yourself bucking traditions, eliminating long-standing unhealthy practices, moving out of your comfort zone, and, perhaps at times, being the lone advocate for stewardship and bountiful generosity. Yours is a sacred and significant responsibility. Know that we are rooting for you and, more important, so is our Creator.

Blessings on the journey,
Kristine and Scott

excerpt from: Bounty: Ten Ways To Increase Giving At Your Church by Kristine Miller and Scott McKenzie Copyright ©2013 by Abingdon Press. Used with Permission. Order information below.

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