6 Signs Your Congregation is Financially Healthy

dollar-sign-1317230-mLast week, I wrote a blog about Stewardship and Discipleship: Two Sides of Same Coin. Stewardship is the way we use our God-given gifts – talent, time, and treasure – to carry on Christ’s work in the world. We are his disciples.

As part of stewardship, it’s important to understand the financial health of your church and its members. The decisions you make about money are part of stewardship and discipleship.

Here are 6 signs that indicate a church congregation is financially healthy:

1. Understands the concept of stewardship
Do your members understand that all giving – of themselves and their resources – is a result of God’s goodness and generosity? We are meant to spend our lives as disciples of God, growing and learning in our faith.

2. Discusses money in worship
A church must be able to discuss money in the context of worship instead of considering it as a subject only discussed in financial meetings or separate from the congregation. Church members need to believe that the church’s financial health and well-being matters to every member in every pew.

3. Considers offering part of worship
Your congregation should feel that the offertory is an integral part of the worship service. Just like the wine and bread are gifts we bring to God’s table, we present ourselves as an offering through our financial gifts.

4. Talks openly about money
Church members and leaders need to be able to talk openly about money and church finances. How we use our money – as individuals and as a collective – says a great deal about our values and priorities.

5. Engages in mission
Financially healthy congregations engage in mission beyond their own doors and include mission in their stewardship plans. When people see their money being used for God’s work, it reinforces the joy and culture of generosity.

6. Plans for the long-term
A church with a financial vision and long-term plans can see the future of stewardship. Developing a budget and conducting a capital campaign are both long-term processes that require a complete understanding of your church’s financial goals and objectives.

Think about your congregation and where you are in your stewardship efforts. Do you have areas you can improve? How can you challenge your members to do more?

To talk more about your church’s financial health, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 today.

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Stewardship and Discipleship: Two Sides of Same Coin

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 2.32.04 PMI have been thinking about discipleship recently and the enduring saying, “Stewardship is everything I do after I say, I believe.”

Stewardship IS discipleship – it is a complete reorientation of our lives toward God. Stewardship and discipleship are synonymous with each other. The decline of discipleship may be one of the gravest threats facing churches today.

1 Peter 4:10:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,
as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

It’s important for churches to recover the discipleship message that proclaims every legitimate human activity is a response to a call from God. Every human being is called to be, in all of life, a steward of God’s creation. As disciples of God, we are stewards and caretakers of God’s gifts. Everything we have is a gift from God, and God asks us to use it all for His purposes.

One part of the definition of stewardship that often gets overlooked is that the gifts we have, whatever they are, we have them because God has given them to us. We have spiritual gifts – Gifts of prayer, artistic ability, and organization. But what about our time or our money? Our time, talents, and treasure are from God. It’s up to us how we use those gifts, including how freely we give them away.

In the church, our worries about stewardship tend to focus on money, but stewardship is also about mission. It’s about explaining to people that the church is doing God’s mission and that it will truly transform our lives and our communities. Each of us – and our gifts – is an integral part of that mission.

What stewardship is…

  • Sharing in God’s mission with a glad, generous and grateful heart
  • Prayerfully responding to God’s call
  • Using our gifts – whether it be time, talent, or money – to help the church achieve its vision
  • Transforming lives in our community
  • Something that makes us blessed to be a blessing

Is your church creating a message of stewardship and discipleship as two sides of the same coin? To talk more about your church’s stewardship message, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 today.

How Do You Show Pastoral Leadership in Stewardship?

Originally posted by Andrew Kukla in his blog, “Wrestling with Discipleship.”

Today I would like to address you not as a pastor but as a father. To do that properly, I first want to address you as a son. People ask me if I became a minister because my parents were ministers. Yes. Though not as they mean it. My parents were never paid by a church.  But I grew up there. My parents were present in all facets of church life. They taught Sunday School, led youth mission trips (my dad using vacation from his family run printing business to do so), served as deacons and elders, and at various points even as volunteer coordinators.

I was never made to go to church. I loved being there. I remember running from elementary school and stopping at a friend’s house to have snacks before continuing on to church choir. I remember not only going to Sunday school but volunteering as a youth helper in the younger Sunday school classes and nursery (we were that family that spent 3 to 4 hours at church every Sunday morning and then would come back for youth group on Sunday nights). I remember strange “old” faces of people (I was a kid, everyone was old) I would never have met in any other ways but they were interested in me. They helped raise me. I could rattle off names that go to faces I can’t recall and faces whose names I maybe never knew. These people fed me, laughed with me, taught me, formed me… they loved me. I owe my life to them. It’s no wonder I wanted to live my life for the church that has lived its life for me.

Fast forward to being a parent. Three years ago Caroline and I started a call process to find a new church. Not a job. Not a place of employment. A place to raise our family and a place to give life to, just as it gives life to us. We were determined that our calling would be to a place that would raise our children – would raise ALL children. And God found us just such a home.

Now I’m raising children who love church. I mean it. My kids love being here. When Wednesday rolls around and it’s hard to get them out of bed in the morning, all we have to do is say: “Tonight is LOGOS.” And our kids give a shout of glee and start getting dressed. I am not kidding. This is a father speaking and that is a gift I can never repay. I love seeing my kids love something that I love and that has loved me. This is why I give my life, why we give our lives, to the church. Because on fundamental level we know our lives are better for it. This is the joy I experience in giving… is that it’s always receiving. Our life together is all about mutual love and support and the more I have given the more I have received.

Caroline and I talk every year about our pledge. It was something I grew up with and was more new to Caroline when we first started out our life together. Every year we do our best to increase our pledge. And I do not do it because I work here. I do it because “here” loves me – my family – and the world. And that is value I place above all others. But our pledge isn’t just about money. It’s about cooking in the kitchens, it’s about thanking Sunday schools teachers… maybe even becoming one. It’s about INVESTING in love with our whole lives. Investing in a community that exists to love us. Investing in a community that loves us and teaches us to love others.

As a father of four children who know deep in their hearts that they are loved, I thank you.  I thank all of you who are a part of any such community for the essential part you play in fostering that. Your investment in helping me raise my family. I thank you that you let my kids – and all our kids and adults – know that when life turns bad, when they feel guilt or shame, when they are lost, even when they get to place where they are angry at me and I’m the last person they want to talk to: they have a place to call home that loves them, where they are welcome and safe, and where the faces in the crowd are interested in them.

This is the joy of giving that is really all about receiving. This is why, on this Sunday when we dedicate our pledges of time and money for the coming year at our church, Caroline and I will do so joyfully. Because this community is a joy to us and we want to make sure that continues to be so for anyone who walks through our doors. Thank you!

Grace and Peace,
Andrew

Why Millennials Spend and Donate Differently Than Any Generation

offeringplateI recently read an article in the Huffington Post called, “Why Millennials Don’t Put Money In The Church Offering Plate.” The article was written by Henry G. Brinton, Senior Pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church.

At Church Campaign Services, we have written about the importance of “Speaking the Language of Millennials.”

Millennials spend and donate their money differently than any other generation so far. It’s important to adopt Millennial-sensitive approaches to fundraising, while not alienating Baby Boomers and older generations.

According to the Huffington Post article, here are three ways millennials approach giving at church in their own way:

Millennials demand electronic giving options
This younger generation is more likely to give online through a church’s website or set up the ability to make automatic payments.

Millennials don’t carry much cash
Older generations consider the passing of the offering plate to be an act of worship. Millennials don’t carry much cash, and many have moved away entirely from writing checks. They would rather pay bills online and want their congregations to allow the use of debit cards, credit cards, and online giving.

Millennials want quality and authenticity in their churches
This generation of consumers is not very interested in brand names, and in a similar manner, they will not support a church simply because it is part of an established denomination. Younger adults will give because of the quality of music and preaching, hands-on mission projects, and a congregational vision that aligns with their beliefs.

To talk more about reaching millennials in your church’s stewardship efforts, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873 today.

Show Your Thanks – And Recognize Generosity in Others

Thank-YouDo you look your waiter in the eye and thank him or her for good service? Do you show your appreciation to a store clerk for their help? Are you thanking your church members for all that they do?

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. We assume that those around us know how we feel. Yet, it’s important to take the time to show our thanks. We should recognize generosity in others. When those around us give of themselves with an open heart, we need to take the time to acknowledge and praise it.

Here are a few practical ways you can connect with your campaign supporters and say thank you:

Show your gratitude all year
Everyone wants to know they are appreciated. Create a message of gratitude to your church members and campaign donors all year long.

Send an email
Write a regular email that provides details of how much your members’ donations are impacting your church’s vision and plans. It’s nice to hear how things are going and reinforce that each gift is helping to reach the overall goals.

Write a personal note
The best church thank you’s are friendly, warm, and specific. Take the time to write a short, personal note to donors and volunteers.

Pick up the phone
If you want to go a step farther, pick up the phone and give them a call to let donors know that their continuous gifts are appreciated. Explain that you’re calling just to say thank you for supporting the church.

Visit in person
For leadership gifts and larger donations, you may want to visit in person and talk about how their generosity is making it possible to achieve the vision and your plan for ministry. Ask for feedback and insight, and take the time to let them know they are valued.

A thoughtful thank you makes donors feel special and creates a positive response. Members will know their gifts matter and feel inspired to give again.

What Are Your Most Important Habits?

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.24.15 AMI recently read an article in The Presbyterian Outlook called, “Three Habits of Highly Effective Pastors,” by Becca Messman. Becca is the associate pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon, Virginia.

I was most moved by Becca’s comment that “ministry is about making a meaningful difference in the lives of people and being faithful to the God we serve.”

She talks about three ways effective pastors do this: remembering names, silencing their devices, and not waiting to be asked. These are habits we can use not only in our church lives, but in our everyday lives as well.

Everyone wants to be remembered. Especially in a church community, it means so much to know that the pastor and church leaders recognize you and know you by name. Take the time to get to know the people you meet. It can make someone’s day to have you call them by name and ask how they’re doing.

Technology is taking over our lives. Even though churches are often behind the curve in adopting new technology, most of us are connected to our smartphones or tablets. We jump to check our devices every time they make an alert sound. If you’re in a meeting or having a conversation, give those people your absolute attention. You can check your device later. Remember the days before mobile phones and voice mails? You answered the phone if you happened to be there, and otherwise the person just called you back later.

It’s easy to become reactive rather than proactive. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you can do to take the initiative in your church or in your daily life. Do you have new ideas to expand your church’s mission or ministry? Is there something you could be doing to support your community? Take the first step and get started!

What are your most important habits? What would you like to do better?

How Much Money Can Your Campaign Raise?

ID-10085522There are many factors that will contribute to the success of your church’s capital campaign. You can change or positively address some of the factors while others are out of your control.

Following are 6 primary factors that have the greatest impact on how much money you can raise and how successful your campaign will be:

1. Urgency
How immediate is your need for funds? Do you need to initiate ground breaking or want to retire debt in order to expand your opportunities for ministry? You may want to time your capital campaign plans with other goals for the year. You may feel that delaying your campaign may negatively impact your results.

2. Focus on stewardship
Giving that is spiritually rewarding to the giver is more likely to be supported by your church members. Many churches today are struggling with the concept of stewardship and generosity. So, how do you balance being sensitive to the needs of your members with the desire to live generously? Read more in our blog, “How to Create a Culture of Generosity.”

3. Compelling Vision and Case for Support
When you embark on a major capital campaign, you need both a compelling vision of what you want to accomplish and a plan for how to get there. Without a clear vision, you will struggle to capture the imagination and hearts of your donors and volunteers. In addition, your members must believe wholeheartedly that the vision can become a reality.

Your Case for Support will bring your donors and volunteers on board to support and promote the campaign. The specific objectives of the campaign need to be outlined so that everyone is on the same bus going to the same destination.

4. Inspiring Leadership
Your leaders are the backbone of your campaign. From the pastor and the campaign chairperson to the sub-committee chairs and volunteers, everyone must be working toward the same end result. Through trust and confidence, the leadership will inspire others to join in the vision and achieve your campaign goals. Strong leaders turn a vision into reality.

5. Timing/Economic Uncertainty
The timing of your campaign can have an impact on the amount of money you raise. Your campaign funds may fall during a recession when finances are strained and money can be tight. While it may affect the results of your campaign, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed to have a poorly-performing campaign. If the vision and leadership are strong, you can build a successful campaign even in tough financial times.

6. Campaign Readiness
When you’re preparing to conduct a capital campaign, you need to be sure you’re asking the right questions. Use the “Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign” questionnaire to decide if your church is ready to move forward.

Keeping the factors above in mind, here are the typical Capital Campaign Financial Expectations:

Initial Campaign
New construction or an addition: 2-5 times annual contributions
Deferred maintenance: 2-3 times annual contributions
Debt retirement: 1.5-2 times annual contributions
Endowment funding: 1-2 times annual contributions

Subsequent Campaigns
Phase II – 60 to 70% of the first campaign (adjusted for potential loss of major gifts due to death, retirement, etc.)
Phase III – 50 to 60% of first campaign, adjusted.
Long Term – an amount equal to debt service on loan if the case is made.

Download a PDF version of the Capital Campaign Financial Expectations.

To talk more about planning your church’s capital campaign and how much money you can expect to raise, please email or call Church Campaign Services at 888.558.6873.

What’s the True Meaning of Christmas?

nativity-sceneOver the years, how we celebrate Christmas has evolved. In many ways, we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas. We focus on ourselves and what we want. We worry about finding the most impressive gift, hosting a great party, or having the house with the biggest light display.

What’s the true meaning of Christmas? It’s all about love.

John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love.

As we’re fighting the crowds to buy last-minute presents or stressing about whether everything is ready for Christmas dinner, take a few minutes to reflect on what’s really important. Out of gratitude for what God did for us, we remember His birth by giving each other meaningful gifts, worshipping Him, and being especially conscious of the poor and less fortunate.

Give thanks for family and friends, the food on our tables, and the time we are able to spend together.

Have a safe and very Merry Christmas!

Setting New Year’s Resolutions for Your Church

praying-hands-1427667-mDo you make New Year’s Resolutions? According to usa.gov, here are some of the most popular resolutions that people make every year:

  • Lose weight
  • Volunteer to help others
  • Quit smoking
  • Get a better education
  • Get a better job
  • Save money
  • Get fit
  • Eat healthy food
  • Manage stress
  • Manage debt

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000. A new year means new beginnings and a feeling of a fresh start. Most likely, your church members will be making a few resolutions for 2015. They may include praying more, reading the Bible every day, or attending church more regularly on their list.

Have you ever considered making New Year’s resolutions for your church? Here are few suggestions to jump start your plans for 2015:

Stay focused on the vision
The new year is a good time to evaluate where your church is going. Are you hoping to start a capital campaign in order to expand your church’s ministry? Maybe you’re in the middle of a campaign and need to create a new sense of excitement and support. Make it a point to maintain the focus of your church’s vision.

Connect with members
It’s easy to get stuck in a routine. Take the time to connect with your church members and understand their hardships and plans for the future. When you know more about what’s going on in their lives, you can communicate on a more personal level.

Provide opportunities for stewardship
You can help members grow their spirituality and individual gifts by providing them with opportunities to give and help others. Your members will be able to honor and improve upon the blessings God has given them in life.

Serve the community
Reach out and involve the community in your ministry in 2015. Encourage your church members to connect with others in the area and spread the mission and vision of your church. Open your doors and share the Holy Spirit.

Be open to change
The world is changing rapidly these days. Technology is making our lives easier and providing new opportunities. Be open to using technology to expand your ministry. For example, we have more ways to communicate and share our message. You can reach younger members through social media and texting. You can make it easier for members to donate on a regular basis by offering electronic funds transfer or online payment options.

What is most important to your church for 2015? Think about ways you can create a fresh start in the new year.

Have you made New Year’s resolutions for your church? We would love to hear them!