One of a pastor’s toughest challenges is fundraising. Frankly, I tried to avoid it for years due to insecurities and fear. I have since learned that Biblical giving and stewardship are a part of what it means to make a disciple. (In fact, be sure to check out what Will Browning from NAMB has to say about this in his article “Pastors Who Truly Love Their People Preach on Giving“). In my experience, when believers begin to make giving to church a regular practice, they often double down in their spiritual maturity and commitment to Christ. This has been especially true with men.
According to stewardship experts, only 5-10% of churchgoers follow traditional tithing behavior. Consequently, there has also been an explosion in competition for people’s dollars. In 1995, the United States had approximately 600,000 501c nonprofits, most of which were religious nonprofits. In 2022, that number jumped to 1,800,000! This means that church leaders can no longer rely on people “knowing better” when it comes to the stewardship of their resources.
I love the local church and want to see The Church in America tap into the vast financial resources available to do great commission work. Below are three things you can do in 2024 to help inspire increased giving in your church.
Develop a Stewardship System
Medical science tells us that our bodies are made up of 11 major organ systems that operate thousands of other subsystems to make the human body function properly. When a body is not well, it is usually because something in one of the systems is not working as it should. A similar analogy works with the body of Christ. Stewardship and giving should be a regular part of your system of discipleship. James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits” paraphrases Peter Drucker, saying, “You do not rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.” This is why every good church leader should consider implementing a stewardship component into their discipleship structure, which should include a regular cadence of teaching on stewardship. At Clovis Hills, we intentionally teach about giving 3 to 4 Sundays a year. We schedule these in:
- August (September begins our fiscal year),
- Late October (pre-empting Giving Tuesday and prepping for year-end giving), and
- In the spring before Easter.
- We also offer Crown Ministries or Financial Peace University classes annually around the same time.
Finally, it is also an intentional section in our men’s and women’s discipleship structure. For 2024, we have set a goal to present two stewardship testimonies for our church to hear.
Does that sound overwhelming? Me too. The thought of creating the system and talking about giving gave me nothing but anxiety. Let me encourage you to start and take it one step at a time, or as Eugene Peterson says, “a long obedience in the same direction.”
This is an easy one for Southern Baptists. Special offerings allow church leaders to talk about giving and allow the church, as an organization, to model what it looks like to give over and above your regular giving. The California Southern Baptist Convention offers all kinds of media and literature for the Lottie Moon Christmas, the Annie Armstrong Easter, and the California Missions offering. These are offered strategically in the spring, fall, and winter to fit into your church’s stewardship system. One-time love offerings for local ministries or other kingdom causes are also helpful in teaching and capturing a believer’s heart of kingdom giving.
Capital Campaigns or Gospel Initiatives
Capital campaigns are financially focused initiatives within your ministry (typically set for a predetermined amount of time to help fund a large project that requires a larger amount of capital) and a great way to jumpstart a culture of stewardship in your congregation. Most churches promote campaigns to build new buildings, remodel existing buildings, or pay off debt, which, in turn, can encourage over-and-above sacrificial giving from the congregation’s regular giving. These are great at capturing the hearts of new kingdom givers. Because a campaign is typically 1-3 years, it helps create and develop the spiritual discipline of giving in a newer believer or an attendee who does not yet give.
Years ago, we did a 3-year capital campaign that raised money solely for evangelism and missions, and we labeled it a “Gospel Initiative.” We set an evangelistic and missions goal, developed a strategy to reach it, and after counting the cost, we laid the vision before the congregation like we would a traditional capital campaign. The results changed the face of our church. We saw more kingdom activity during that 3-year period than in the previous decade. Capital campaigns and Gospel initiatives take much pre-work and energy, but the long-term kingdom results are well worth the effort.
Dr. Shawn Beaty is the Senior Pastor of Clovis Hills Community Church and the Hills Church Network. Shawn hosts the “Shawn Beaty Podcast” and serves as a consultant for Cultivate Stewardship Group.