It was a pretty serious phone call. A minister said that he was very concerned about his church’s stewardship program and asked if we could meet for an hour in a few weeks. I agreed and he offered to send me information about his last several years, both giving and expenses. On a hunch, I asked him to include the last several bulletins as well.
When we met he told me what the church was doing. I knew he was a subscriber to this blog, had come to nearly all of our stewardship seminars along with lay leadership. He shared that he had taken to heart what he had learned, the narrative budget, mission speakers, good offering introductions, etc.
He had seen a bump in his giving, and his budget was balanced, but he had a sense that giving was coming as a transaction, not from the hearts of his members. His efforts to increase the number who tithe or at least those moving that direction were largely ineffective.
I’m not arrogant enough to believe that simply following my advice will fill your pews with tithers, but his progress was significantly below where many other churches are.
As I read the church calendar in the bulletins I saw lots of committee meetings, even a weekly cub scout meeting. I saw no mention of adult Sunday school. There were no weekday small groups, other than the choir.
“How do you move your members forward with their relationship with God?” I asked.
He stopped and thought. He indicated that he tried to do that with his sermons. But he admitted that this was not a priority in his church.
You’ve read it here many times, someone’s giving to the church is a reflection of his or her relationship with the church and with God. If we’re not discipling that relationship, why would we think their giving will increase? Or in other words, if wallets are connected to hearts, if the heart is barely through the door, can we really expect the wallet to be any further in?
Spend some time this week looking around in worship or those committee meetings. Pick out an individual and ask yourself what your church is doing to disciple that person.
Just turning on the Disciple Bible Study DVDs won’t do the trick. If you are going to reach your whole congregation it will take a number of approaches and options. And please don’t do this just to get them to give more.
But I would remind you that the Great Commission is not to go out and make worship attendees. We are called to made disciples.
Go make some.