Sunday, June 29, 2008

Barna: Five Significant Barriers To More Generous Giving


I was in a management team meeting for our daughter church  Potters Hands last week and we were talking about financial difficulty and stewardship preaching/teaching.  Maybe I'm odd (OK, yes...I'm odd) but I enjoy preaching on stewardship.  I think partly it is because I have seen time and time again the benefits that come to people who take seriously the challenge to be faithful stewards.  I want my people to be blessed, and I see God blessing when I/they give faithfully. we talked about how to get this toddler church to be more stable in their giving, the mention was made that George Barna had listed five barriers to giving.  A quick Google search came up with his list.  I scanned my copy of "How to Increase Giving in Your Church" by Barna and didn't find this list, so I don't know where it comes from originally.  But I think they are helpful...and I have seen them apply to our own church. 

1. Some people lack the motivation to give away their hard-earned money because the church has failed to provide a compelling vision for how the money will make a difference in the world. These are donors who can find other uses for their money and are not excited about simply handing money over to a church.

2. Those who see their giving as leverage on the future. They withhold money from the church because they do not see a sufficient return on their investment.

3. People who do not realize the church needs their money to be effective. Their church has done an inadequate job of asking for money, so people remain oblivious to the church’s expectations and potential.

4. Those who are ignorant of what the Bible teaches about our responsibility to apply God’s resources in ways that affect lives.

5. Those who are just selfish. They figure they worked hard for their money and it’s theirs to use as they please. Their priorities revolve around their personal needs and desires."


Brian said...

I think the first one is a big one these days with the younger generation. Young plant churches need to have clear goals and motivating visions and not keep changing direction every few months. The younger generation is more apt to give to causes and charitable organizations that have clear goals and are very transparent with where money goes. I am not saying it is right - just stating how it is. I think the older generation Christians that have been Christians for over forty years tend to have much stronger convictions on tithing and less mistrust of churches handling of finances.

However, the biggest problem right now is simply that we are in a recession and most people had over-extended budgets before $4/gallon gas. Now they are in crisis and are having a hard time cutting back on expenses and so unfortunately I think people tend to not give, or at least temporarily hold back on giving until they figure out how to stabilize their finances.

On average, I would guess that the younger generation is going to be in much more crisis financially than the older generation - and that is not good news for church plants like PH. A family in their 30's is going to have much higher mortgage and expenses than empty-nesters in their 50's that have small mortgage payments and lower expenses.

The big problem is that many of us in our 30's are trying to live the lifestyle of our empty-nester parents, so I think it is going to take some time but people are really going to have to change their lifestyle and habits and adopt more of a "Dave Ramsey-type" approach to personal finance. This isn't going to happen overnight, so I think church planters need to seriously consider being bi-vocational in order for the church to survive.

Brian again... said...

Let me just clarify my earlier comments...seems I am being misunderstood here.

I was not at all saying that Christians should not tithe or temporarily stop by any means - young or old; and I wasn't saying the perceptions and attitudes of the younger generations are right. All I was looking to do was state how I see the problem based on my experience, perception, and from talks with other Christians. I am realist and I can't stand when we are not honest and real in the church. I believe very strongly in tithing, so I was no suggesting people do otherwise.

You can take the hardline and preach all you want about it being a strict obedience issue and the need for immediate repentance, but if you want to bring about effective change in giving in the church you have to get down to practical personal finance, and unfortunately no one wants to talk about it...well, because it is PERSONAL and most of us are living outside our means. It is going to take a ton of humility and understanding - something the Church doesn't have a good record on - and it will get very ugly. Everyone has different circumstances and everyone has a different expense loads and levels of debt - some of it is the member's fault and other things may have been beyond their control. Plus, pastors have to expect their salary to be put into question because (to be perfectly honest) members talk about it quite a bit - especially when there are budget problems. That is a really ugly one because unlike career paths with very supported salary guides, church salaries are harder to justify and quantify. I don't even want to get into that issue here, but if we all truly get honest in the church and address giving and the budget, there are going to be a lot of ugly issues like this that surface.

Finally, I should have been more clear on my comment on church planters becoming bi-vocational. I was thinking of the new church planters starting churches, not churches already planted and more established. I just think that most new church planters coming on to the scene are going to have to be bi-vocational given the economy and the younger generation.

Every church is having to deal with this issue right now as even the Mars Hill size churches are not meeting budget, so it is only going to become more of an issue.

Hope that helps clarify my earlier post, although knowing me it probably confuses it further... :)

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