‘It was different because it was better’
It takes more than a tithing sermon from Malachi 3:10 to create an effective annual stewardship campaign in your church.
An effective effort requires a major time commitment to plan, enlist volunteers, establish committees, design materials, conduct meetings and prepare sermons. Ministers serious about issues larger than raising a budget – such as teaching stewardship and leading a congregation to grow in generosity – must do all of this while keeping all their other ministry plates spinning.
This is where I can help you.
Two pastors of churches that recently conducted highly successful annual stewardship campaigns utilizing the resource development services of The Columbia Partnership confessed that they could not do it all.
Davis Chappell, pastor of the 8,000-member Brentwood United Methodist Church, realized he had “so many wheels turning” in his second year at the megachurch that “I really needed someone I could count on who could help us.”
“As a pastor, you say you can do that in addition to your other duties, but you cut corners,” Chappell said. “The more you have someone who can take some of that off you the more successful you’re going to be.”
Chappell led the church’s annual giving campaign the previous year himself and saw growth. “We could do it ourselves,” he said. “But we’re stronger when we have a consultant who comes in to help.”
Bruce Cochran, pastor of 250-member First Baptist Church of Seymour, IN agrees with Chappell that the professional help they received increased their effectiveness, developed leaders, freed them for regular pastoral duties and resulted in significant financial gains to support church ministries.
Cochran said the difference in conducting their campaign internally as they have done, or in using a TCP consultant “was polish, professionalism, efficiency and comprehensiveness.”
“It was different because it was better,” Cochran said. “It was communicated better, participation was better, and it was not just the pastor standing up and saying we should do this.”
First Baptist’s priority was to return to the place where it could again devote 20 percent of its income to missions – an historical standard the church had to back away from during the recession. Results were so positive the church is again giving to missions at that generous level.
The Brentwood church also gives missions high priority and dovetailed one of its satellite churches into its annual campaign effort with Larry Sykora.
“The benefit of having Larry to help, as opposed to a ‘fundraiser,’ is his pastoral experience,” Chappell said. “He’s not going to do anything to embarrass us. He brought us a pattern and a stick-to-it-iveness.”
Chappell said stewardship is about trust, first an expression of trust in God and then of trust by the donor in their leadership.
“That’s a blessed burden,” he said. “We’ve got to live up to that.”
During their annual campaign the church did not emphasize a financial goal or the need to fund a budget. “We pointed out that the stronger our generosity the deeper our outreach,” Chappell said.
The result was a growth in commitments of “roughly 340” new giving units and an $800,000 increase in committed gifts. “That is “really significant” for us, he said.
The satellite church, which was conducting its campaign at the same time, saw an increase of 65 percent – or $100,000 – which was “enormous.”
“They had never done an operating campaign,” Chappell said. “We are very, very excited that our daughter outpaced us.”
Chappell encourages pastors to address stewardship as a spiritual discipline. Besides, he said, “everybody’s talking about money” and the conversation is better directed from the pulpit than in the parking lot.
“The only thing worse than a church that always talks about money is one that never talks about money,” he said. “I’ve never known a person who accidently tithed. Discipleship is not an accident, it’s an intention.”
In Seymour, Cochran originally was planning a capital campaign but he liked the idea of “getting a head start” by doing an annual giving emphasis first. TCP consultants are finding many churches electing to teach generosity through annual stewardship before beginning a capital campaign.
After an outstanding success in their annual giving effort, First Baptist held a Legacy Campaign and secured $600,000 in planned gifts through which they will fund long-term physical plant and mission needs.
TCP consultants like me are ministers with extensive consulting experience in churches of many denominations, and non-profits of diverse focus. For a no-obligation conversation, call me at (919) 607-4991 and we’ll discuss the possible.