On May 18, 2014, Powhatan Community Church (Powhattan, VA) enjoyed its largest single giving day in the church’s 13-year history. And, founder and Senior Pastor Brian C. Hughes reported that the church was on budget to make the most aggressive budget increase in 10 years. All this exceeded the giving increase for which Hughes and his staff’s planned and prayed.
Having enlisted the coaching of Suwanee, GA-based Charis Group in late December 2013 — and Mark Brooks, its founding partner and president — Hughes says giving at PCC is “up in the stratosphere.” True: average year-to-date giving at the church is up more than $70,000 (an 18-percent increase) compared to the same period last year, and up 10 percent over 4Q 2013.
So, what worked? We asked Hughes to loop us in.
May 18, 2014 was the church’s “largest single giving day in its history.” For what was the church raising funds at that point?
Hughes: We had a very aggressive budget goal for 2014 — almost a 30-percent increase over 2013. We had worked very hard to promote and teach better stewardship, and people responded. What they were giving to that day was our general offering.
On a coaching level, with whom on the church staff was / is Brooks working?
Hughes: Primarily just me, as senior pastor. But he has done a little work — at my request — with the rest of my senior staff.
Looking back on the process, what are the most instrumental tenets or takeaways you’ve gained?
Hughes: The most significant teaching we’re received — by far — is the “connecting of the dots” every single Sunday. We used to treat offering time as sort of a pause in our service. [Brooks] helped us to see that this can be a significant and motivating moment if we’ll help people see that when they give here, great things happen!
Second, [Brooks] helped us see the power of a coordinated, multi-layered communication approach when it comes to stewardship and giving awareness — through emails, social media, “snail mail” letters, program information, et cetera. He helped us develop a coordinated approach.
Third, [Brooks] helped us emphasize and invigorate our online giving. When he began with us, our online giving represented between 3 percent and 4 percent of total giving. Now, it’s at 16 percent!
What kinds of increases has your church seen in its giving as a result?
Hughes: Giving increased in 2014 by almost 30 percent — $370,000. [Brooks] coached us the entire year.
What are most rewarding ongoing aspects of this generosity coaching?
Hughes: First, there’s a renewed sense of energy and a reduction or elimination in the sense of dread when it comes to talking about money, giving and generosity in our church.
Second, we’re far less stressed about making our budget from week to week, as there’s now some margin.
Finally, there’s great inspiration in the stories we’re hearing about people who are learning the blessing of being a generous giver.