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Know your Audience (Funding Your Vision #4)

I went to a seminar last year let by a pastor who leads a Millennial church.   He made an interesting remark.  He said that their weekly offering was far higher on Monday morning than on Sunday morning.  He went on to say that no one in his congregation carries checks or cash.  While they do still pass the plate, the givers simply ask, “What’s in my wallet, and how much do I need to keep back for lunch?”.  Heck, I’m considered an older Gen-Xer and I myself haven’t carried a checkbook in over 20 years!  This church has done an extraordinary job in building a quality APP.  Every Monday morning, they send out a notification that lets its attenders be reminded of announcements, with a link to the message, small group questions, “and by the way, if you forgot to give yesterday, no problem! You can do so right now.”  As the recipient is sitting at her desk, she says “Oh that’s right!” and 2 minutes later, she has given and then goes back to work.

What do you really know about your people?  Do they carry a heavy debt load? Do they understand how to live on a budget?  Do they understand the theology of generosity? Are they more likely to give to specific items over a general budget?  How much information do they want to have?  How much is too much?

Below are a few generosity principles when it comes to Knowing Your Audience.  If this is your first time to this Funding Your Vision series, begin with Funding Your Vision Part 1

  1. Generosity is the New Sexy.  I believe it is harder to lead a church now than ever in American history.  I also believe the church is better off for it.  It used to be far easier to be competitive and self-centric.  I think it was easier to run a church service before now, without having to cry out to God that the people would show up and engage.  Heck, the church had its traditions down pat that they didn’t even need God to show up to have a great service!  I believe that the changing trends will force the church to go back and look at what is really biblical and necessary.  The irony is that there is far greater of a demand from our weekly guest that we really are what we claim to believe.  One of those demands is that the church is not all about themselves, but truly loves the community and investing in true transformation and reconciliation.  Call me crazy, but I think Jesus might agree with this idea; in fact I think He even has something to say about this concept. Your first-time guest wants a church that is generous and they actually want to be taught how to be generous.  They want to be a part of something greater than themselves.
  2. There Are Apps For That.  When I planted my church in the mid 90’s, any technology you could bring into your worship service was cool and attractive.  Now less is more, but what makes sense better be there.  To not have a strong website, giving kiosk, well laid out apps, and other smart ways to engage with your community is no longer about being uncool; it is like the equivalent of finding out the contractor you hired showed up to the job site without any tools.  It just doesn’t make sense and causes a lack of confidence. 
  3. Know Your Audience’s Heartstrings.  Please hear me, I am not suggesting that a church should bend the Gospel, quite the opposite!  As noted in Funding Your Vision #2 you can’t do it all, so it is critical to clearly understand what makes your community unique.  Sounds obvious?  Maybe.  You would be surprised though how many “do church”, with the expectation that newcomers adjust to their culture, rather than the church have great sensitivity to the local community God has caused them to reach.  Here’s a litmus test: can you name one or more things that makes your church unique compared to most churches you know?  If so are those things reaching people to Christ?  If not, you probably have not done the hard work of really understanding how God has called you to reach your neighborhood. 
  4. Help The Givers Out of Their Own Financial Crisis. To teach generosity and not give them clear pathways to financial freedom is a guaranteed formula for guilt and shame.  That is not the goal obviously. There are tons of programs out there. I have personally had success running Financial Peace University in my Church.  A word of warning though:  a good biblical financial program will teach godly principles.  The upside is that you will see tithing increase.  The downside is if you are not running your church budget according biblical principles, you will be called out on it.  I’ve seen on more than one occasion church leaders move from excitement to disillusionment, when they discover that the very church that recommended the financial freedom program is not operating on what was taught.   I am not saying this is a bad thing, I am just giving you fair warning!

Next Post: How to Lead in Funding The Vision.

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