Hail Mary or holy moly: there’s got to be a better way to fund ministry

By Joel Mikell & Derek Hazelet


Most senior pastors or executive leaders approach church giving by looking for a Hail Mary or settling for a holy moly. We depend on someone to save us at the last minute — or, we accept managed decline.

But what if there were a better way?

Thankfully, there is.

Many church leaders have realized that data and technology provide new ways of thinking about how they can overcome their increasing financial challenges.

New challenges require a better way to fund ministry.

Today’s ministry leaders face a new series of challenges when it comes to church giving. If we want to identify a better way to fund ministry, let’s first agree on a few things.

• Church giving is declining while overall charitable giving is increasing. According to a recent report by the Atlas of Giving, overall charitable giving increased by 4.6 percent in 2014 while church giving declined by 1.6 percent.
• There is a remarkable change in behavior when it comes to church giving. Tithing is not the norm. The conditions of how people give, why people give, and when people give is changing.
• The cost of ministry is increasing … and so are the needs! Church leaders rarely feel like they have all the resources they need.
Many church leaders are uncertain about how to solve the problem. While leaders might be aware of the challenges, no one trained them on how to overcome them. It can be difficult to discern what the right next step should be. However, leaders can either bemoan the reality, or they can commit to taking action.

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Church leaders can benefit from a more intelligent way of
increasing generosity.

If you’ve identified with these challenges, it’s time to consider how data and technology can help. Even if you’re skeptical, let’s consider several ways every church could benefit:

#1: You’ll make smarter, more informed decisions. Taking the time to analyze they data and behavioral patterns of your church members can make a significant difference in the impact of your ministry.
For example, your church might be considering a capital campaign for a new facility. By taking the time to analyze your data, you might find that you can overcome the challenges you’re facing by adding another service, rather than going into debt to build a new facility.
When you take time to analyze the data and information, you can make smarter, more informed decisions rather than relying on your gut.

#2: You’ll break through the noise and clutter. Inspiring people to give is only half the equation. You must help them follow through. Technology gives you the ability to communicate and follow up with givers like never before. It allows you to guide every church member in the grace of giving, whether it’s a first-time giver or a financial leader.

#3: You’ll define a holistic process that uniquely allows you to enhance your disciple-making strategies. You have information that can be leveraged to help people grow in generosity. Sometimes that means challenging them and providing accountability. Intelligent giving strategies allow you to maximize the information you have to lead each individual church member toward being more generous.

Take the first step toward a better way
The days of waiting until the end of the year to “work it all out,” or hoping for the best, won’t be enough to engage the people in your church and move them toward extravagant generosity. Why wouldn’t we want to use every available resource to advance and fund Kingdom work?
Funding your ministry can be easier. Rather than praying for a hail mary, technology allows you to confidently lead your church members in generosity in more effective ways. Instead of being so overwhelmed by the increasing financial challenges that all you can say is “Holy Moly!”, data provides a new way of thinking for how you can overcome them.
The steps toward intelligent giving strategies are simple, but they require discipline. Are you ready to leverage your data and technology to do it in a smarter way?
Learn more about how your church can overcome your financial challenges with Intelligent Church Giving by downloading a FREE INFOGRAPHIC.

Joel Mikell is executive vice president and principal at RSI Stewardship. Follow him on Twitter @joelmikell, or find him on Facebook. www.facebook.com/joel.mikell

Derek Hazelet is senior vice president at RSI Stewardship. Find him on Twitter @dhazelet or LinkedIn.


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