I’m doing an interview tomorrow with Houston News Radio 740 KTRH on how churches are weathering the economic downturn (8:20 a.m. Central). Have you experienced a dip in giving? Attendance? A lot? How have you been managing it?
The question came up, “How can you ask people to give to the church when they’re having trouble paying their mortgage?” I took a "people need to give" approach, and talked about proportional giving, and how much we have in this country, from a global perspective, even in the midst of a downturn. What are your thoughts?
The interviewer seems interested in how churches are helping people in the midst of this recession. Are you getting a lot of requests for assistance? What kinds of things are you doing?
September 20, 2010 at 11:34 am
I found this website helpful in the conversation. http://www.globalrichlist.com/
As far as giving, we are flat, not down. As far as requests, we don’t have an increase, but for some things we have less participation like trips and events that involve shared costs with members.
September 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm
We have felt the impact of the downturn, but we find folks have been creative in remembering their commitments to the church. Some, recognizing the limits of the family budget, have volunteered to provide services the congregation previously purchased from others. Thus, the congregation’s service needs are fulfilled; the net outflow of funds is reduced, providing an opportunity to redirect spending.
September 20, 2010 at 8:42 pm
I can’t write from a local church perspective, but from the collective experiences of the team that is doing capital campaigns these days, people are actually apparently MORE generous now than before the Fall of 2008. My theory:
1) More focus on managing money and less focus on obtaining the next gadget to hit the market.
2) A realization that when it’s their turn to need help, they’d like a church to be there to help them.
3) A desire to connect to something large, old, relatively stable (I said relatively–quit laughing), and sometimes trustworthy. I think most people trust churches more than banks, but I don’t know that for a fact.
4) Though they seldom make the headlines, there are quite a few thousand churched people who live modestly, save frequently, invest wisely, and share generously in good and not so good times. It’s just what they do. I have been privileged to get to know a great many of them in my work in development.
September 22, 2010 at 8:44 am
Here is a response to your inquiry.
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Have you experienced a dip in giving? Attendance?
No. Not at all.
None. Nada. In fact, attendance has increased somewhat.
How have you been managing it?
With thanksgiving and gratefulness, awe and wonder.
John Julitz seemed interested in the tension of asking people to give when they’re struggling to pay the bills. Almost: How can you ask people to give to the church when they’re having trouble paying their mortgage? I took a “people need to give” approach, and talked about proportional giving, and how much we have in this country, from a global perspective, even in the midst of a downturn.
Our staff and leadership have taken the abundance thinking approach. In fact, we just added staff, a part-time youth director. Not only this, we increased his compensation four-fold.
He was also interested in how churches are helping people in the midst of this recession. Are you getting a lot of requests for assistance?
No more than normal. In fact, it has dropped off since last fall. Although the church pantry—an agency run by a coalition of churches–is experiencing higher volume than normal; the church pantry has increased their plea for donations; Our Saviour’s has increased her contributions.
So thanks be to God.
September 22, 2010 at 10:49 am
We’ve taken a decrease in giving of over 1/5 of our income from 2 years ago– related to economic recession, conflict in the church over staff changes, and sexuality vote. We were in crisis mode 6 months ago and went to the congregation with the hard facts and/or “absolute” transparency— either more income or staff salary cuts and/or staff cuts. The congregation responded positively and giving has increased.
Our approach now is to keep up the clear, concise communication (which we thought we were doing all along) and to approach giving from different emphasis (tithing to proportionate giving to amount giving) and giving various opportunities to give other than “just offering.”
Oh and by the way….. a great read on Stewardship…..Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson. Great job of questioning some myths around giving or lack thereof.