What Any Church Can do to Increase Their Giving | Dave Bennett

David Bennett - Director of Finance and Development

I recently met with the board of one of our NextGen churches, during which they asked: "What can you do to help our church increase its income?" My mind raced as I immediately thought of ideas. However, instead of unloading information, I decided to focus on what they really needed. I realized that if they needed to raise their funds significantly, we would need to take a dramatically different approach. 

I asked them, "What kinds of things do you need money for and how much do you need?" They responded, "We would like to remodel the front of our sanctuary, but in the first 6 months of the year our giving is 40,000 under budget. Their spending was under budget as well, so they pointed out that they were still slightly cash flow positive. Their board also wanted to do some significant capital improvements, which would cost 4 million. They then asked: "How should we solve these issues and how can we raise this money?" I knew this was a significant among of money and would need a significant level of focus and planning. I suggested that we do an overall financial plan for the church, which would include becoming clear on the churches tangible goals with date specificity. We would follow by writing a step by step plan for these goals. Normally, this level of planning would cost a church 25,000 or more, but because this was a church that supports NextGen, this service would be free to them. 

The church proceeded to ask for examples of what can be done to accomplish these goals. I had attended their worship service and offered my observations that their offering could be taken up more effectively.  I suggested the offering time can intentionally praise the Lord instead of any type of pressure to give. Some people think that all churches want is their money, and this isn't the message they want to send. There are various ways to address and change this issue. One option is to offer giving boxes in the back of the auditorium if electronic giving is not used. Another option is to tell stories of how God is working through the church. A pastor I had worked with previously implemented this idea, and his congregation's giving doubled even though attendance had plateaued. 

This pastor shared his story of how he went on a drive-along with his police officer friend late through the night. He saw what he expected; drug deals and prostitution, but the other thing he witnesses surprised him. He saw children playing in the streets. In order to reach these kids, the pastor began a food program from the hours of three to five in the morning. One morning, a disheveled man approached the pastor. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill. "This is for meals for the kids," he said. The pastor was touched, and shared this story with the congregation. It was their giving that made these meals for the children possible. 

Testimonies like this communicate to the congregation what God is doing in a community through the church and can really make an impact. Giving makes such a difference. Sixty seconds can be powerful and communicate a significant vision which can influence giving. 

How often would I recommend giving these testimonies before the offering time? How do you come up with these stories? Who should tell them? That will be the subject of next month's article, so stay tuned! 

I am so 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, feel free to contact me, David Bennett, at bennett5000@aol.com. 

- David Bennett, Director of Finance and Development 

Missio Dei Oakland | Church Plant Update

Alex Schweng, Pastor, Missio Dei Oakland

By: Alex Schweng

We are Missio Dei Oakland (MDO): a church plant in East Oakland. Mike Tyson's famous quote summarizes our journey well. "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. " Yes! You have all these goals, a mission statement, core values, a big vision, etc. Then reality uppercuts you in your grill and you're just trying to survive. And then small, subtle temptations to compromise creep in. That's happened to us a lot. However, we have managed to stay true to three big commitments from the get go. Here they are and what we've experienced in the process. First, the poor. MDO only serves the poor and struggling. We feel this is our calling from God and we've fought hard to stay true to it. It brings up financial challenges, but it also brings us into relationship and solidarity with the poor and how hard life can be.  What our people go through can be crushingly sad and horrific. Their stories humble us, change us, and break us. Serving the poor also means our church is made up of dishwashers, day laborers, fast food workers, janitors, warehouse workers, the unemployed, and everything in between. Violence, trauma, crime, and family brokenness are found in many of their lives. They are often looked down upon or simply ignored in our world as people who don't matter. But God loves the poor! And it is a beautiful thing to see a person's life changed by the mercy, dignity, and power the gospel provides. Second, MDO only serves unbelievers. Meaning, when we meet Christians we kind of give the cold shoulder. Not because we don't love our Christian family! We just really wanted to see if a church plant could grow through evangelism alone. This has made our growth slow. And  small. And difficult. Additionally, some of the folks in our neighborhoods can be violent, sometimes crazy, and be in lots of trouble. So we are often at the jail and psychiatric hospital and continuation high school for ministry. But God is powerful! Some of our conversion and discipleship stories are crazy beautiful. Dramatic. Amazing. We have extreme highs and lows. But our highs are pretty crazy high. Plus, in serving only unbelievers, no one comes with church baggage. That's been kinda wonderful! Third MDO is an urban house church network. We are not Sunday centric but community/neighborhood focused. We plant house churches for small social networks and then gather everyone together on a monthly basis. So although we are small we are incredibly diverse. Currently our church is made up of folks who are Mexican, African American, Russian, Vietnamese, Native American, Filipino, Colombian, Chinese, Cambodian, Salvadorian, and Korean. As an urban church we wanted to reach the diversity of the city. The evangelistic house church approach was our best idea for seeing that happen. 

We are grateful to be in ministry with NextGen!