A Book I Wish I Would Have Read After Seminary

David Bennett, Director of Finance & Development

Our Mission is to resource high-level leaders. We serve leaders of new churches and established churches going through transition and transformation.

Recently, I asked a pastor, "What would be helpful for you and other pastors as I write my blogs?" I expected him to say he wanted to hear updates on churches I've helped or tips on fundraising or how to launch a fundraising campaign, etc.  However, he was asking for tools or books to save him some time in research. 

A few years ago, I came across a book that I wished I would have read years ago. If I had, it would have provided me with techniques and strategies for expanding my ministry.  As I read it, I knew this book would be very valuable for pastors, executive pastors and stewardship ministers.  Not Your Parents' Offering Plate by Clif Christopher and published by Abingdon Press shows the change in demographics and reasons people give today versus why they gave in the past. It explained the roll of the pastor in fund-raising and gave concrete next steps for pastors who don't see this as their roll and don't want this to be their role.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on the 3 pockets of giving. Normally, when I hear of giving pockets, I think of different things people will give to. People will give to missions, buildings, disaster relief, poverty, or certain kind of ministry like youth. Just because someone gives in the weekly offering, doesn't mean they won't give to some other project. People will not normally (even though they do sometimes) take what they give from weekly offerings to give to disaster relief because it is a different "pocket" they give out of. The "pocket" chapter has a different perspective. It doesn't look at pockets people will give to but pockets of resources they give from.

Christopher gives three sources people will give from and those three sources will receive different sizes of donations. People will give out of their "earned income" pocket whether through a job, pension, social security, etc.  From this source, people will tithe or give a percentage of what they receive. The second pocket Christopher mentions is the "capital pocket" which has to do with saving, investments or other assets like life insurance cash value or real estate. The third pocket is the "estate" pocket referring to donations when one passes away. An interesting question he asks is, "What would happen if half of a congregation tithed on their estates?"  If an American has an estate worth  $500,000 including life insurance and retirement plans, then a tithe would be $50,000. If a church has 100 households represented in their congregation, and if half of those households tithed on their estates that would represent $2.5 million in donations. This chapter implies that if churches are only receiving gifts/donations from members' income, they are probably receiving 1/3 or less of what they could be receiving. 

I really liked the final chapter "Top Ten Things I would Do Now," Christopher lays out an annual system for teaching stewardship, presenting the budget, sharing testimonies, instruction in personal financial management, changing members' mindset toward money and giving, preaching, cultivating/training top givers, and how to say , "Thank you."

I appreciated the thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter. Christopher provides a section at the end of each chapter called "Things To Do" which list practical next steps for implementing the principals in each chapter.

I am grateful to our churches and individuals who support our ministry making it possible to resource and serve high level leaders. If you are interested in discussing how you could increase the income/stewardship/generosity of your church please feel free to contact me or make plans to attend our NextGen Financial Seminar, September 27th. Click here for more details.