Monday, April 22, 2019

You're Likely to See More Financial Growth from Current Givers than from New Givers

By Warren Bird, Ph.D.

For churches that are growing in their giving, would you guess that they experience higher amounts of giving from: (a) attracting more new givers or (b) inspiring current givers to grow in their generosity? No doubt you’d like to put energy into both options (please do!), but to help educate your planning process, which is more likely to generate the greater financial impact?

The answer is: (b) inspiring current givers, according to stewardship research conducted by ECFA. Churches whose giving is growing tend to emphasize strong teaching on giving, which increases the per-giver amount. Thus rather than expecting that the generosity of new attenders will mature quickly, these churches supply training in biblical generosity for believers who are already progressing along a pathway of spiritual growth.

All churches teach stewardship at some level. “Every church has a stewardship culture, either by design or by happenstance - a set of beliefs and values regarding an individual’s relationship to their money and possessions,” writes Dick Towner in his book Revolution in Generosity: Transforming Stewards to Be Rich Toward God.

The question is how much training do they do, and how specifically do they offer that training? The table below shows what churches with high levels of per-attendee giving said in an ECFA stewardship survey:

Beyond Training, What Else Can Be Done?

Even among senior pastors who are strong in teaching biblical stewardship, many need improvement in developing relationships with major givers, according to the survey. More than 77% said their senior pastor’s ability in teaching biblical stewardship was either extremely effective or very effective. Yet almost half (47%) said their senior pastor’s ability in developing relationships with major givers could be improved. Specifically, 53% rated their senior pastor’s ability in this area as strong (22% selected “extremely effective” and 31% “very effective"). However, the remaining 47% indicated a need for improvement (26% selected “moderately effective,” 16% “slightly effective,” and 5% “not at all effective”).

Translation: Just as you encourage those with gifts of teaching to teach, and servers to serve, likewise encourage givers to give (Romans 12:8). One way to develop relationships with givers is to set up a council of givers that meets quarterly or twice annually. Call it your Stewardship Team, Dreamers’ Council, Mountain Movers, or another name. Open it to anyone, but specifically invite those who seem to have the gift of giving. Over breakfast or dessert, share your heart and vision and thank them for their role in making it happen. Then continue by sharing upcoming plans, and dream aloud and together of what could happen as additional finances materialize to support those dreams.

ECFA Is Here to Help

We offer many resources that support the financial stewardship of your church. To start, see

See also these earlier blogs in the Large Church Trends series:
Smart Churches Assess Themselves - In Groups and Regularly!
Effective Boards Spend MORE of Their Meeting Time on the FUTURE