The push or pull of change

I heard someone talk about change last week. He asserted that change happens for one of two reasons. It is either pushed by fear or pulled by vision.

In terms of church finances there has been very little “business as usual” in recent years. Attendance and membership in mainline denominations is already dropping. And the economic situation has decreased many of our members to give less. So we have fewer people making smaller financial gifts.

Would you be surprised to find that many churches have seen their offering income decrease? Probably not. But you may be surprised to find that others have seen their income increase.

Consider the church whose pastor made a plea in the fall of 2007. The stock market had already begun to slide. Unemployment was rising, both locally and across the region. He made it clear that in these times the church would need to be more missional. This was a time when local hunger centers would need more financial support, not less. When mission giving through apportionments would need to go up, not down. And while some in the church would lose their ability to give at their current rates, those in better financial circumstances would need to increase their giving.

This was a courageous request. It would have been easier for this pastor to offer excuses and invite members to retreat back into themselves, to play it safe and focus on the church’s inward survival. But he didn’t. His members responded and that church has offered not only financial resources to local agencies but also volunteer time and expertise.

Giving in that church wasn’t changed based on fear. It changed because of vision. And more importantly the congregation grew stronger during this time, not weaker.

As the economy improves, is the change in your church being pushed or pulled? Are you operating out of vision or fear?

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