Culture Shifts in Congregation Budgeting

Piles & Bags of MoneyWith so many articles being written lately about declining receipts in church giving, I’ve taken some time to think about why I believe giving has been strong at Fairhaven Church. We exceeded our 2009 budget by a large amount and we’re ahead of budget this year, all that on top of an $8M capital campaign that’s on track.

  1. Present the budget with stories, pictures, media, vision and enthusiasm. Make it exciting!
  2. Stay out of the weeds. However you need to do it, move the congregation away from discussing details that are too specific to add any value. In my opinion, you should never discuss specific account budgets in a congregational setting. Present the vision and stay at the 50,000-feet level.
  3. Be sure the tools are in place to ensure that the church family can give with confidence such as, an annual audit by a qualified CPA. When that audit happens, use it to affirm the church family and your desire to be wise and trustworthy money managers.
  4. Make your money, stewardship, or generosity (whatever you call it in your church) sermon series an annual, multi-week, high-impact event. Make this series as intentional and strategic as any series you’ll present all .  One
    four-week series we offered was called A Generous Life, which included
    built-in response tools to help the church family ACT on their desire to be
    generous with their lives and their stuff.
  5. As you periodically report finances, connect financial information with vision and results. Finances should never appear as disconnected from the ministry of changed lives. Include metrics if you use them.
  6. Tell stories of impact and transformation. Tell stories of people reached, lives changed and vision made reality. Generosity cuts against the grain of our popular culture, especially in a recession. People need to know that their generosity is accomplishing something eternally significant.
  7. Communicate to the congregation how the church is being generous to the community. Make sure you’re walking the talk. You must model generosity to inspire generosity.
  8. Affirm the congregation’s generosity every chance you get. People need affirmation. That’s just human nature.

You can’t create a cultural shift overnight, but you can move people’s thinking a little at a time if you stay focused and consistent. It’s happening at Fairhaven, though we’ve got a long way to go. But the exciting thing is what can happen down the road.

Paul Clark is executive pastor of operations at Fairhaven Church, Centerville,  OH.

You can tap more of Paul’s wisdom and experience by visiting his blog Vision Meets Realitywww.visionmeetsreality.org , or follow Paul on Twitter, where his Twitter identity is paultclark.

Shared with the author’s permission.

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