Bridging the gap between the business office and the pastoral office
By Brad Leeper
As a church leader with a Kingdom-first perspective, you likely have two goals that are the primary threads woven through the fabric of all you do within your church.
First, you seek to develop your people’s individual relationships with Christ.
Second, you aim to grow the size, scale and reach of your God-inspired, Kingdom-advancing vision, whatever that looks like in your context.
Do those initiatives sound familiar?
Odds are, similar goals to the ones above have been poured into and prayed over by your church leadership team.
Have you considered the degree of intersection between the two goals? How deeply is the success of Goal No. 1 dependent on the success of Goal No. 2? And vice versa?
The answer is a simple, foundational truth that most church executives fail to strategically act upon. The truth is: It’s impossible to separate the success of the second goal — accomplishing God-sized vision — from how well a church accomplishes the first goal — discipling its members.
In short, generosity development is contingent upon spiritual development.
In order to fund your church’s Kingdom-advancing vision, you must deliberately steward, disciple and move your congregation to be more generous. This can’t be done with a one-size-fits-all approach. Communications and programming must be segmented to reach the wide variety of giver bases that exist in your church, which is impossible without an analysis of individual giving behavior.
Much like the intentional discipling of new and long-time believers looks different, the way you move givers along a generosity journey is custom and individualistic.
Church leaders often use financial benchmarks that paint an incomplete picture of what’s happening in their churches’ giving universe. Questions like, “Are we ahead
of or behind budget?” are too simple or not comprehensive enough to be productive for a typical church that has different classes of givers. It’s increasingly important for leaders to have access to data that provides insight into the givers in their body in order to foster a healthier, more generous whole.
The ability to analyze individual giving behavior allows a church to decipher how it is able to connect with its giver base. With ChurchAnalytics.com, a new reporting and data analysis platform offered by Generis, church leaders can ask the right questions using data that truly matters. Leveraging compelling data and expert coaching, church leaders can work alongside Generis to begin asking important questions using measurements that matter.
Rather than being able to identify disengaged givers — and therefore the root reason why they have stopped giving — leaders often default to setting a budget and creating benchmarks to get to that budget. Or, if they exceed budget, they’re satisfied and don’t recognize if that success could be attributed to a single, large donor, and not a long-term success after all. Not identifying lapsed, growing or one-time givers misinforms your financial office and leads to applying a blanket communication strategy. When one-size-fits-all communication aims to rally an entire giver base around a single number, it misses key piece of building a spirit of generosity in each giver.
Simply put, the questions asked in the business office surrounding giving should be giver-focused rather than budget-focused.
If you’re focused on budget, your questions might look this like:
• What was last year’s total amount given?
• Are our aggregate gifts increasing month-over-month?
• How many households are giving? Is that number increasing month-over-month?
Instead of strategizing around collective numbers, it is integral to leverage data that gives a snapshot of what’s happening on a more granular level in your giving realm. This allows you to learn if several household or individuals comprise the vast majority of your overall giving, or if church leaders are among top givers for your church. A deeper dive into data also could reveal that your average household is giving less in a month than what they presumably spend on coffee.
Looking at the right data, the right way, reveals truths that aren’t immediately obvious in most business-office conversations. Asking the right questions and determining bands of givers within your church creates a bridge between the business office and the pastoral office that can be used as the foundation for the course of action that best makes sense for your church. It allows pastors to invest in the right time and communication for each person from a pastoral perspective, not just a business-office approach. Conversations around generosity in the lapsed giver sphere should look different than those taking place with the consistent, large check-signers. Much like the intentional discipling of new and long-time believers looks different, the way you move givers along a generosity journey is custom and individualistic.
Generis’ ChurchAnalytics.com tool shifts the conversation of what’s offered and what’s capable to your ministry leaders. It not only opens the door to a new understanding, it shifts the process of how churches look at giving initiatives and the generosity journey.
Encouraging giving is not about reaching a goal or asking for money; it’s a Kingdom-minded, intentional approach to developing the relationship and walk with Christ of every person who walks in your church’s doors.
Brad Leeper, principal and president of Generis, is drawn to serving larger, innovative, growing churches and the challenges of helping them expand in the area of generosity practically and spiritually. He earned a Masters in Theology degree from Dallas Seminary and a B.S. in Economics from West Virginia University. Leeper has diverse experience in church risk management, human resources, financial analysis, adult education, cross-cultural missions and strategic planning.
To begin an intentional look into your people rather than into your numbers, get a free data analysis at ChurchAnalytics.com.