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This article first appeared in Religious Product News

Church Stewardship: Seven New Trends on an Old Subject
By Dr. Brian Kluth

Stewardship teaching in churches has been around for 2,000 years, but stewardship is definitely in need of a biblical makeover in how we present it in the 21st century. 

The days of faithful and generous giving to one’s church has certainly fallen on hard times. In many congregations, the “stewardship law of thirds” is a reality that is causing many churches to limit or cut programs, staff, and facility improvements.  The stewardship law of thirds means that 1/3 of your congregation gives $0, 1/3 gives less than $500/year, and only 1/3 gives more than $500/year. 

Because a majority of people in most churches are not faithful and generous givers, each church needs to determine how they are going to help reverse the downward slide of tight giving. Here are seven cutting-edge trends that any church can review to determine which action items they can utilize in their congregation.

1. Conduct a Church-Wide Generosity Emphasis
For many years, churches have concentrated their stewardship programs on “getting” money for the church’s budget, bills, or buildings. This form of “transactional” fundraising may have gotten some dollars in the plate, but it hasn’t gotten God’s Word in people’s hearts. Today more than ever, church leaders need to decide to inspire their congregations to greater levels of generosity and increased giving by giving their people Bible-based resources that will make the generosity message one of spiritual transformation.  Go to: www.GenerousLife.info  www.GiveWithJoy.org

2. Help Lift People Out of the Money Pit
Many people sitting in your church each weekend are drowning in a sea of financial mismanagement and growing indebtedness. They desperately need the truth of God’s Word to shine a light in their darkness as it relates to managing finances and giving faithfully. Some of the best ways to teach church members is through seminars, small groups, or Sunday school classes. Today there are many quality financial curriculum materials you can review and then decide which one would be the best for your Sunday school classes or small groups.    Go to: www.crown.org  www.DaveRamsey.com www.goodsenseministries.com

3. Use Inspirational Generosity Materials
In some churches, mentioning finances in the worship service means something dull and boring, like having the church treasurer stand up to tell everyone the church is behind in their budget. While this may shake a few shekels out of some tight-fisted people, this approach doesn’t help people see their giving as an act of worship. People need to know that giving is more than just writing a check or putting cash in the offering plate; it’s about involvement in the Lord’s work – and that can be rewarding and joyful.  www.MAXIMUMgenerosity.org 

4. Focus Some Stewardship Activities Toward the 90%
Research shows that 90% of a person’s financial wealth is not in their cash flow but instead is in a person’s assets and estate. Yet nearly all of a church’s stewardship focus only concentrates on getting money into the Sunday collection plate.  www.MyFamilyOrganizer.org  www.Plannedgift.com

The biggest gifts a person will ever be able to give to their church during their lifetime or at their death is from their assets/estate (property, vehicles, investments, business interests, jewelry, artwork, life insurance, etc.). However, 90% of the people in your church will pass away without having given anything to your church from their assets, will, or estate plans. It is time for churches to include communications and resources that help people properly steward the assets God has given to them over their lifetime.

5. Create Electronic Giving Options
When I taught on finances and giving in churches in India, I noticed they had the largest offering baskets I had ever seen. When I asked them why, I was told that they made the baskets big enough so that people could put in a portion of whatever the Lord had blessed them with during the week. Their offering basket held things like bread, rice, eggs, money, and more!  In one church, they even had “storage houses” next to the church so people could bring a tithe of their crops to church. www.vancoservices.com

In America, I’m afraid our baskets are “too small.” We need to create bigger baskets, so people can be faithful and generous in their giving in other ways. I recommend we create “bigger baskets” by creating a variety of ways people can give. If we face the facts, there is a great cultural shift in how people “do” money.  If you ask the average 20-year-old to “write a check,” they will tell you they don’t own any checks. The younger the adult, the more likely they are operating more and more electronically with all or most of their financial transactions.  

Church leaders need to adjust their thinking and create more electronic giving options. The issue in generosity is not in the method someone uses to give, but the fact that they are faithful in their giving. Online giving, electronic funds transfers, giving kiosks, stock brokerage accounts, and Christian community foundation accounts are all part of a growing trend to allow Christians to be more faithful in their generous giving to the Lord’s work. 

6. Preach God’s Word on Finances
Studies show that 85% of pastors are uncomfortable preaching, teaching, or talking about money. One of the main reasons for this is that more than 90% of seminaries in America over the last 30 years have not taught a biblical approach to personal and church finances.

The good news is that there are 2,350 verses on finances and material possessions in the Scriptures (so there is a lot of material to choose from). When you examine the Word for spiritual leaders who helped encourage financial teaching and generosity in their generation, the list is a veritable “Who’s Who” of Bible characters.

While it was common in the past for churches to have an annual stewardship message, many pastors today are teaching whole series on finances covering a full range of topics from a biblical perspective – earning, savings, debts, materialism, generosity, investing, and more. There are some helpful ministries that can greatly assist pastors in this important area – and they offer valuable insight and free resources for a biblical approach to finances and generosity.   www.MAXIMUMgenerosity.org   www.Generousgiving.org 

7. Empower Those With the Gift of Giving
The Bible teaches that God has given some people the spiritual gift of giving. While all Christians have a responsibility to give from whatever resources the Lord entrusts to them, some individuals have uniquely been given a special gift of giving. This normally means they are able to make significant amounts of money, they choose to live on less than they earn, and they are internally motivated to help fund or resource kingdom causes. Just like someone with a gift of leadership, service, or teaching, these people also need opportunities and encouragement to use and develop this supernatural gift God has given them. There are a number of resources and ministries that God has raised up to empower these individuals to great levels of generosity and service.  www.GenerousGiving.org

Money and generosity are an essential part of spiritual life, and with the information and resources provided here, you can be used by the Lord to powerfully and effectively impact your congregation’s giving and financial health. The outcome will be transformed lives and more fully devoted followers of Christ, perhaps the best results for which pastors and church leaders could ever ask. 

Dr. Brian Kluth is a pastor, inspirational guest speaker, bestselling author, and leading media authority on church giving. His 40 Day Spiritual Journey to a More Generous Life has become a bestseller with 320,000 copies in print and translations underway in more than 40 foreign languages, www.kluth.org.

 

Kluth’s web sites can be accessed at www.MAXIMUMgenerosity.org  and www.GenerousLife.info

 

 

 "MAXIMUM Generosity" -  21st Century Biblical Generosity Resources and Training by Brian Kluth ( www.kluth.org )

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