Finance Fridays: Acting Like a Church
Earlier this week I on Jeff Brooks’s blog I read a post entitled “Act like a church for better fundraising“. The article is a riff off of a post at Get Off The Couch about what non-profits can learn from the church. As I read these I am reminded of the Starbucks concept of a third place, and how that idea is straight from the church: a place of community and being together. To be honest, these kinds of things always irritate me a little bit… not because I have an issue with other organizations learning from the church, but because I have an issue with the church not recognizing and using the incredible strengths and gifts that we have been given!
Brooks’s post briefly states how the church does four things that he tries to help non-profits do in order to better raise funds:
- Churches understand the value of the human connection.
- Churches regularly gather their membership for common experiences.
- Churches foster a deep, emotional connection.
- Churches understand the influence of a multi-generational family.
The difference between the non-profits that Brooks is consulting and the typical church? The non-profits will talk about money.
Now, I am not saying that we should be building these four things into the lives of our churches in order to have a fuller offering plate on Sunday mornings, but I am saying that since we are already building these things into the lives of our churches that it gives us the credibility to be able to talk about money with our congregations.
Recently I was sharing Chinese food with a church planter when we started to have this conversation. As we were munching mouthfuls of boneless spareribs and General Tso’s chicken he mentioned that his offerings have gone way up ever since he started talking about giving, stewardship, and generosity on a regular basis at the church. Now, he is not beating people over the head about giving, he is not locking the doors on Sunday morning until the correct amount is given, he is treating money exactly how it needs to be treated: as a discipleship issue.
Over the last eighteen months I have had hundreds of conversations with church leaders about funding ministry in our current economic environment. I have found that there are several churches that are doing quite well. These churches are consistently communicating a huge vision for the church, talking about generosity as a spiritual discipline, and acting in ways that demonstrate competence when it comes to making financial decisions and tracking financial data. Among the churches that are struggling I have noticed that they generally are either NOT talking about money at all (whether out of fear of offending people, or just not knowing how to do it), or when they do talk about money they are talking about how badly the church needs money so that it can pay its’ bills (not all that inspiring).
In this day and age, in our cultural context, money is a big deal. We are a wealthy nation, a nation full of “haves” who typically define themselves by how they use their money. If we refuse to talk about something that is such a big part of our congregation’s it is no wonder that we can not fund our church’s budget. While an underfunded budget is a bad thing, what is much worse is the silence of church leaders refusing to shepherd their flock through an issue that impacts their lives like none other.
How do YOU work to disciple your congregation when it comes to their finances?