Mark Brooks

Where Do We Go From Here? The Way Forward is Back

Where do we go from here was the headline of an email I received from a major denominational group. Everyone is asking that question. I believe the way forward is back.

There are no good old days. If you think about it the good old days were never as good as we remember. We forget past struggles when we are in a current struggle. We long for what we lost but the reality is, there is no going back to the way things were. Just like 9/11 forced us to endure changes, like airport security, so too will COVID19 force long term changes everyone must endure.

“We won’t be passing an offering plate for the rest of 2020.”   That was what a pastor told me recently as we were talking about the steps they were taking to open back fully.  My guess is you are in the same boat. The physical passing of a plate, bucket or basket might be a thing of the past. We might never be able to go back to the glory days of passing a KFC bucket by our attendees.

Is the offering dead?

“The Offering is NOT Dead; It’s Different,” is a title of a series of blog posts I am writing for my partner Gyve. https://gyve.com/2020/05/01/the-offering-is-not-dead-its-different/ One of my points is that the offering is meant to be a worshipful response of Christ-followers. How we collect the offering has changed but not the offering.

Moving forward, what is the best way to increase giving? That is the question you need to be asking. My friend Dennis Moses has called COVID19 The Great Reveal. What he means by this is that COVID19 did not cause strains on churches’ finances. It revealed existing strains that COVID19 exacerbated. Giving has been slowly declining since the late 1960s. Listen to my interview with Dennis here, https://youtu.be/6DhhxBs1NXQ

My answer to the question of increasing giving is to go back to the basics of teaching discipleship. Let me illustrate from data we have collected on church giving.

$50 a week is my benchmark average for healthy financial churches.  We track not individuals but family giving units. A healthy church financially will average at least a $50 a week per giving unit or family. Having worked with a wide variety of churches here is what I have discovered on average.

Seeker Driven Contemporary Churches typically have a low $30 range.  I believe this is so in part because they shy away from any talk about money. 

Mainline churches are typically in the $40 to $50 range.  In my experience most, mainline churches shy away from teaching tithing as a giving standard. 

Now consider the typical Southern Baptist and Assembly of God church that almost always has an average at or way beyond $50 per giving unit per week.  Why is this?  I am sure there are a multitude of reasons but traditionally these denominations have been strongly Sunday School focused.  Their attendees get a regular healthy teaching on biblical stewardship.  You can see the results in their offerings. 

The churches that are doing better financially through COVID19 are those that teach tithing and giving as a part of discipleship. Seeker driven churches are more prone to struggle through recessions and pandemics.  My point is that churches that teach biblical stewardship, call it generosity if you want, always have fuller offering plates.  Discipleship is a major reason why.  You should yearly have your small groups or Sunday School classes working through some study on Christian stewardship.

The key for future financial security for your church lies in going back to our basics, making disciples. We have for too long been only concerned about attracting a crowd. Let’s make disciples. In time of difficulty crowds disperse. In time of difficulty disciples step up. Let’s go back to a focus on making disciples!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

What do you think?