The danger signals are all there pointing out why the future church is in danger. There are many reasons but one major reason will be the decline in giving. The projections are that the current rate of decline in giving will mean Americans give only 1% of their disposable incomes to the Church by 2050. At that point many if not all churches will face the dangers of being able to keep the doors open. Yet few realize the danger and fewer still are writing or talking about it.
Christian leaders are consumed by immediate problems causing them to ignore future problems. It is not that the majority of leaders are ignorant of what is going on in giving. It is simply that they are too busy to give any of their valuable time to this. The Tyranny of the Urgent presses in upon them and thinking and planning for increasing giving gets put off for another day.
The reason for this is that declines in giving typically happen slowly over time. You think you have time to address it later, so you put off doing anything. Month after month, year after year, churches have done nothing to offset the decline. Ultimately, we will all pay for succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent.
Frankly if you have gotten this far reading this post you are one of a few. Most only read stuff on giving when they are in a financial bind. The majority of leaders wait until a financial crisis happens before they recognize it and ultimately try to do something about it. Frankly pastors and staff are uncomfortable talking about money and finances. It is simply difficult to get them interested.
Yet the first step to solving a problem is to recognize you have one. If we don’t recognize for instance how the differing generations are wired when it comes to generosity we will not avoid the train wreck that is ahead of us. That is what is driving my thinking and writing these past few months.
The next step is to begin a process of dealing with that problem in order to solve it. Here are some key thoughts to that end…
- We did not get into this mess overnight and there is thus no one step cure or action to get us out of the problem overnight. Think long term but don’t wait to act because…
- The sooner we start working on this problem the more likely we will survive the 1% train wreck racing towards most churches.
- Don’t treat every generation the same. Look for more on this from me in future posts.
- Think outside the box. We have to think beyond the weekend offering! What worked in 1980 will not work today. We have amazing new tools that can help us avoid the slump in giving.
- Old school thinking might not be all that bad. We must get back to a focus on making disciples not simply drawing a huge crowd.
- Focus on telling the story of what your church does and why giving to support it is crucial.
Experts tell us we have five years before the decline in giving will start catching speed and momentum. Now is the time to get to work to offset the 1% train wreck. I am here to help you but you need to get to work!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach