Offer a 90 Day Giving Challenge

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As summer approaches days get longer and ministry gets slower.

Pastor, if you haven’t already you’ll start to see attendance numbers drop over the next few weeks. Days at the lake and vacations will soon consume the lives of your church folk. With the drop in attendance you may also see a drop in weekly giving totals as well.

Now if you’re offering an online tool where people can setup an automatic payment that’s one way to help, but what are some other options you can use?

Here’s a quick suggestion that my pastor has used and had some success.

Now I’ll admit, this suggestion isn’t for everyone. I can see how some pastors may have animate objections to this idea so just take it for what its worth before you comment.

The idea is to offer a 90 Day Giving Challenge.

The premise is to encourage non-givers to give it a shot. God has already shown us that giving is the one area we can test him.

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” – Malachi 3:10

If you’ve been around church long enough you know what the frustration that talking about giving can be. You’ve heard the negative comments when you preach about generosity. It’s no doubt that this area is one of the most difficult parts in our spiritual development.

So how do you present the challenge?

It’s basically this. Preach a sermon about generosity. As part of that message, make an offer to the congregation and the offer is simply this.

If you’re not a tither currently, start today and let me (you the pastor) know you’re taking the challenge. If at the end of 90 days you have not seen the blessings that God can provide or you’ve not been taken care of by taking an amount of your income and giving it back to God, I’ll give you a full refund of the amount you gave.

Now pastor, this challenge will take some fortitude on your part. You have to stand by your word and give the money back if they ask. (But I’ll add, in all the times we’ve done the challenge no one has ever come back and proved it wrong)

Secondly, we’re not talking about prosperity Gospel, health and wealth or any of that crap. If you’re planning to use this for that then just stop reading here and open your Bible.

Ok, rant over!

Seriously though, we’re not talking about God’s blessing monetarily like some cosmic bank deposit where suddenly a mass of money as a blessing from God is going to show up for the person taking the challenge.

What we’re talking about is the reality that God takes care of those who are faithful. Does that mean he’s going to magically provide a new car because we’ve suddenly started tithing? No way.

We do know, however that God is going to meet our needs. It’s amazing how God takes what we have and multiplies it to fit our needs when we’re faithful. As a businessman, it makes no sense to logically look at the facts of living of 90% of our income when up until now, we use every dollar that comes in.

But the truth is, it works. God provides and we’re on track taking that next step in our spiritual development.

OK, back to the challenge and experiences we’ve seen.

In most cases, the people that took the challenge not only didn’t ask for their money back, they also have turned into faithful givers. We even had skeptics take the challenge to prove us wrong.

Now I’ll admit, there’s a level of subjectivity here and that has to be taken into account. I’ll also concede that some will not agree with this method and call it a gimmick or heresy. You’re right, it’s not for everyone and every ministry.

I present the idea as just that, an idea to help encourage giving in your church and during the summer when giving gets tight, it’s a good time to remind people of the importance and blessing that giving back to God can be.

This is also not a hard fast, proven system. It’s open for refinement and customization for your congregation and ministry.

Ministry is hard and as a pastor you may feel sometimes like you live in a silo. While there are somethings we’re unable to help with for you we hope that we can speak into the financial management of your church and help you be better at wearing that hat.

If you try the challenge with your church, let us know. Comment below and tell us you’re going to try it and then follow-up and let us know the results. When we work together to build better ministries, the Kingdom is blessed in the strength of our numbers.

The Real Cost of Free

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This post originally appeared on our previous website at AxessNetwork.com, https://www.axessnetwork.com/blog/2011/08/11/the-real-cost-of-free/

One of the greatest fallacies in our culture is the perception of ‘free’ when it comes to church help. That simple word sounds so good to people, yet few realize that it is actually a misnomer. There really is nothing free. (Except salvation through Jesus Christ, but even that cost Jesus his life.)

Every time something is offered for free, someone, somewhere, somehow had to pay for it.

Many churches are operating under the assumption that their volunteers are free labor. The truth is that the free labor comes at a cost. While it may not cost in dollars directly, the intrinsic costs of volunteer labor can be substantial. Let’s look at a few examples.

If you have a volunteer that agrees to fill a need in your church that is awesome. But what if another need comes up; do you have a volunteer base that can pick up the slack? What if the first volunteer would be the best person for the new job, yet they are stuck in their current position and have no more time to give? Now what does that volunteer cost you? On the opposite side, one instance we’ve all dealt with is what if that volunteer likes the position they are in and think they are doing fine but they are not good at it? How do you tactfully tell them the truth?

Let’s say you farm out your churches website to a volunteer to design. Sounds great right? Well there are some additional costs involved in a website. In order to have a public website you must have a domain name and hosting account. Both these items will cost money. Let’s just say that you choose the cheapest domain registrar and hosting company. Your volunteer designed the site for free and it is now live. Low cost, inexpensive way to get a web presence right.

Wrong.

While it is true there are many discount web services out there, they relative cost is actually very high. This cost often comes in lack of service, lack of availability and flexibility and their template is plagued with ads. We haven’t even gotten to the user experience when they visit your website. Since you were cheap and went the inexpensive route you now have a website with low bandwidth meaning your pages load slowly and the user doesn’t get a good experience. The average user visit to a website is 7 seconds. If your page isn’t even loaded by then, the user is long gone never to return AND they have formed a perception about your church.

More labor talks. Let’s say you have some knowledgeable people in your church and you decide to have a Saturday work day to renovate some rooms. Great, skilled labor is expensive and keeping the work in house saves money right?

We met with a church that built their own building. Well, they had the shell built professionally but they finished out the inside. Only problem was that the pastor, who was in charge of design, missed the first work day. Another person stepped in and decided they could fit extra classrooms if they reduced one foot from all the rest. More room, Great! Only problem was that now none of rooms are adequate to fit the average size of their small groups. What seemed like a great idea at the time and may not have been given much thought is now coming back to bite them and they are regretting that decision.

Volunteer quality. We all know that there are plenty of people ready and willing to help their church. After all, we are called to be servants right? However, what happens when we have a person ready and willing, but unqualified to fulfill the task? What if they are adequately qualified, but their tastes are different than that of your congregation? What if they cannot meet the requirements but they are trying their best? How difficult is it for most people to confront another and tell them they are not doing something right? What if that person’s husband or wife was a key leader in the church? Now how much did that decision cost?

I have listed all these things in a way which I realize is very cynical. In many ways, I was sarcastic and brash. However, every scenario is real and something we have dealt with in one church or another. Here is our suggestion.

Take some time to analyze what areas of your church you are willing to use volunteer labor and then allocate the others to professionals. While on the surface, free sounds good, there are many times where free is actually more expensive than the alternative.

What is the value of the perception and image of your church in the community? Is it low enough to rely on free to maintain it?

Budget Line Hierarchy Bug

With the most recent update that fixes the pull down of your budget lines for expense recording, we have found a bug that prevents the selection of a child budget line if it’s more than 1 step deep.

We are working to fix the issue and will provide an update once complete.

For the interim, if your Account Manager hasn’t already mentioned to you, please select the next higher budget line and provide any pertinent child lines below detail that you intend.

For instance:

Ministries > Children > Preschooler Cookies

the pull down will reflect:

Ministries
Ministries > Children

To select Preschooler Cookies, do as follows:

Select Ministries > Children and put Preschooler Cookies in the Memo Field.

Sorry for the inconvenience and we will update once the issue has been fixed.