Trends in Giving, Part Two

At Servant Solutions, we are more than a just retirement and financial planning organization.  We work hard to focus on the broader Kingdom and what we can do to support you in ministry.  As part of this focus, we are sharing Part 2 of a two-part series looking at trends in giving.

As an influencer for the Kingdom, many of you either lead a church or are a major part of the leadership team of your local church or parachurch organization.  And you know that resources determine much of what we do in ministry.  Many times, those resources are equated in dollars, which leads many organizations into an unhealthy, dollar-centric focus.  Below are excerpts from John S. Dickerson’s book, “The Great Evangelical Recession”.  In our last newsletter, Part 1 of our series offered perspectives on our present realities in many of our churches today, and the impending crisis if we continue with present dollar-dependent ministry models.  Although some may feel these are dramatic claims, we feel the questions are worth asking: Is American evangelical giving declining? And what, if anything, can we do about it?  Part 2 of our series below offers some of what Dickerson identifies as most important in heading off these trends. It is marked by love for the church, confidence in God’s Word, and solid pastoral instincts. Each chapter suggests adjusted ministry priorities to match each area of decline.

If you would like a detailed PowerPoint presentation on this book, please email us at info@servantsolutions.org and we would be glad to email it to you.  Thank you for allowing us to “Serve Those Who Serve”!

Four Practical Ways to Do More Ministry with Less Dollars

1.    Hybrid Ministry: Learn and launch ministry models that do not depend solely on paid staff.

  • Still runs on donations, but requires less money to do more ministry
  • Careful about output (building and other overhead costs)
  • Use “alternative energy source” in unpaid staff – trained, called, qualified, and gifted staff and pastors, who work tent-making jobs and do not draw FT salaries
  • They won’t put in as many hours, but there is an unlimited supply
  • This is how the Apostle Paul served the New Testament churches Christ called him to plant and feed (Rom 12, 1 Cor. 12, Eph 4, and 1 Peter 4, 2 Timothy 2:22)
  • The solution is disciples (primary engine of the early church), not dollars (primary engine of the modern church)

A. Benefits of Hybrid Ministry

  • Prepares for financial stability over next 15 years
  • Propels staff to Christ’s disciple-training ministry model
  • Awakens dormant spiritual gifts in non-staff servant leaders
  • Eliminates “career” church workers
  • Attracts true Kingdom servants who have no other motive than to serve Christ
  • Pleasantly surprises younger Americans, who suspect church staff to be after their money

B. Will we spend the next decade working harder and harder at fundraising – or working harder and harder at disciple making?

    We must plan to do more with less.  If we don’t, we will end up doing less with less

2.    Conservation: Avoid Debt Obligations Beyond the Next 10 Years

  • If you knew your salary would be cut in half in 15 years, would you take out more debt?
  • If you expected your income to decrease, wouldn’t you set aside additional savings now? (Joseph anticipated Egyptian Famine)
  • Before donation crisis worsens, build up ministry savings and reserves
  • Will not cover losses indefinitely, but will carry ministry through tough months and years

3.    Preparation

  • Teach mature givers about the impending crisis
  • Create legacy vehicles (bequeathals, ministry trusts, etc.) so their gifts can outlive them
  • Essential – Kingdom work world-wide could be “made” or “broken” by gifts from the two eldest generations
  • We must be intentional or we will waste away this resource

4.    Abandon: Disciple the Church in Life Surrender and Biblical Tithing

  • If all Christians tithed, we would add $139 billion more to Kingdom work
  • Crisis is not a shortage of funds, it is a shortage of commitment
  • We don’t believe in tithing or generous giving
  • If we did, we would get more excited about giving money away than about hoarding it for ourselves
  • Long-term solution – serious reproductive discipleship in micro-relationships
  • Only within a framework of committed disciples does biblical generosity make sense

CONCLUSION:

Successful ministries will survive the donation crisis by discipling their people into biblical living and giving.

1.    Not desperate for donations – due to their investment in hybrid leaders/lay leaders

2.    Not be mortgaged by earthly assets – cautious about taking on debt

3.    They will have healthy savings and reserves in place in anticipation of the crisis

4.    They will inherit unexpected funds from bequeathal gifts as informed older saints make investments that will outlive them

 

For a thorough study of this topic, we recommend you read the Great Evangelical Recession, by award-winning journalist and pastor John Dickerson.

https://www.christianbook.com/evangelical-recession-factors-american-church-prepare/john-dickerson/9780801014833/pd/014833

 

Trends in Giving

At Servant Solutions, we are more than a just retirement and financial planning organization.  We work hard to focus on the broader Kingdom and what we can do to support you in ministry.  As part of this focus, we are sharing Part 1 of a two-part series looking at trends in giving.

As an influencer for the Kingdom, many of you either lead a church or are a major part of the leadership team of your local church or parachurch organization.  And you know that resources determine much of what we do in ministry.  Many times, those resources are equated in dollars, which leads many organizations into an unhealthy, dollar-centric focus.  Below are excerpts from John S. Dickerson’s book, “The Great Evangelical Recession”.  Part 1 of our series offers perspectives on our present realities in many of our churches today, and the impending crisis if we continue with present dollar-dependent ministry models.  Although some may feel these are dramatic claims, we feel the questions are worth asking: Is American evangelical giving declining? And what, if anything, can we do about it?

If you would like a detailed PowerPoint presentation on this book, please email us at info@servantsolutions.org and we would be glad to email it to you.  Thank you for allowing us to “Serve Those Who Serve”!

Present Realities:

  • The generation that gives almost half of total donations began passing away in 2010
  • In 15 years, 50% of all donations will either be at risk or already redirected to heirs
  • Their children have not been taught tithing and generosity compared to their parents
  • Evangelical ministries (national, regional, and local) will see closures or radical downsizings (Remember Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral?)

Four Factors Leading to this Crisis

1.    Ministry models overly dependent on dollars

2.   Giving on the whole has been decreasing for years

3.    Evangelical giving may drop around 70% during next 25-30 years

4.    Each ensuing generation is increasingly unreliable, unpredictable, and less generous

 

1.    Dependence on Dollars

  • Leaders count dollars instead of disciples
  • Dollar-centric deformity of the gospel
  • Expect dollars to fulfill Great Commission, which originally had nothing to do with wealth
  • “If we are in the black financially, then we must be doing OK”

Goers and Senders Structure

Goers = Professional Christians charged with doing the “real” work of evangelism and discipleship

Senders = Financial Supporters charged with giving money to the Goers, thus feeling they “have a hand” in the fruit of new believers and disciples

  • This structure is under gradual decline and is collapsing, resulting in widespread Goers layoffs
  • More pastors, teachers, professors will leave ministry to make ends meet
  • Precarious Position – Goers who are best trained will scramble to make a living, while the Senders remain largely untrained in serious evangelism and discipleship

2.    The Trend of Overall Decreased Giving

  • American Church has more wealth, assets, and technology than it has ever in its history, yet it is declining at home
  • Half of all pastors, parachurch employees, etc.… will be unemployed in ministry work in next 30 years
  • Newest generations weaned by a consumer culture both inside and outside the church
  • Today’s Senders have less commitment and spiritual maturity (Because older generations did not teach them)
  • Have little concept of consistent or sacrificial giving
  • Some ministries will surge financially, attracting a larger share of a shrinking pie, but this phenomenon is NOT a national trend

3.    The Death of the Biggest Giving Generation

  • Age 75+ give 4x more of their income than those ages 25-44
  • Older generation is 19% of national church, yet gives 46% of all donations
  • They are the financial core – most generous, faithful, and capable generation
  • Lifetime of values that discouraged debt, encouraged saving, and gave sacrificially
  • 20% of all evangelical churches are in North America, yet hold 80% of global evangelical wealth
  • Decline of giving in America will have global spiritual ramifications
  • Giving Percentage by Age 65=46%, 55-64=22%, 45-54=17%, 35-44=11%, <35=4%

4.    The Unreliability and Unpredictability of Ensuing Generations

  • Each younger generation is increasingly stingy
  • Give less than their parents did when they were the same age
  • Younger generations don’t just give less, they also give less consistently
  • They are growing increasingly suspicious of institutions, including churches
  • They are egocentric, spending more on themselves instead of giving to others
  • Only 17% of all Christians say they tithe, yet only 3% actually give 10% or more to the Lord’s work
  • Not a money problem, the drop in giving follows the pattern of the drop of involvement
  • Failing to make new converts and training them into transformed living/giving has led to this crisis

Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this series coming in 2018 on what we can do to stem these trends.