Post Pandemic Giving Trends
About The Episode
“For most churches, if you take 50% of your givers off the list, you’re only losing 2% of the gifts… Rather than talking about fear and anxiety of the coming recession, what if we talk about the real issue? Being broken-hearted about the spiritual condition of our people when it comes to money and possessions.” Meet Jim Sheppard, CEO & Principal of Generis, a firm passionate about coaching churches and creating contagious generosity. Today’s episode wrestles through some very current economic trends like inflation and recession while guiding church leaders on how the disruption of the pandemic will require churches to change their playbooks and update their scorecards. This is a must-listen and one you’ll want to share with your team as you head into fall.
Welcome to Episode 063 of the Leaders in Living Rooms Podcast with Sean Morgan.
Insights From Jim Sheppard
Recession and Inflation
- The pandemic was not an interruption but a disruption to the way we do church in the future. Interruption would mean that we’re going to wait it out and then go back to the playbook we were using in churches before March of 2020. That isn’t going to work.
- “The effect of inflation is more likely to land on our staff than it is on our givers.”
- Executive Pastors should be thinking: what can I do to soften the blow of inflation for my staff?
- In every church there is a relatively small group of people who are contributing a disproportionate amount of the total. For most of these people, their giving is not going to be impacted by inflation.
- This is not a classic recession-driven out of an economic cycle. Much like the recession of 2008 which was not driven out of an economic cycle, but rather out of an abundance of subprime loans that had to be flushed out of the system. A lot of the inflation we’re seeing out there is a supply chain issue that came out of the pandemic. As the supply chain begins to loosen itself up, we may see inflation begin to correct as well.
Advice for Church Leaders on the Topic of Generosity
- Our fear and anxiety drive us to think about solutions that are not always the best solutions.
- We’re now paying the price for years of not teaching our people well what the bible says about giving, finance and possessions.
- American churches have focused too much (maybe 90% of our time) on what the money goes TO, not where it comes FROM (the surrendered heart of a transformed Christ follower). Jesus and Paul spend 90% of their time in the NT talking about where money comes from.
- Rather than talking about fear and anxiety of the coming recession, what if we talk about the real issue? Being broken-hearted about the spiritual condition of our people when it comes to money and possessions.
- “Our giving has the power to transform us, if we allow it to happen.”
Takeaways for Preaching On & Supporting a Culture of Generosity
- Take a couple of topics that on the surface don’t appear to be about giving, but have principles of the important qualities and characteristics of giving and stewardship.
- Some examples are: honor, trust
- “It’s not a stewardship series, it’s a series about life.”
- Churches have seen the number of people in their rooms go down significantly, but their giving numbers haven’t changed that much.
- I think we had a lot of people in our rooms who looked like their roots were going deeper but then their lives got hard and they backed out.
- We’re seeing the parable of the soils played out right before our eyes.
- More givers relative to the number of people in the room, but fewer givers overall.
- Most churches, if you take 50% of the givers off the list, you’re only taking 2% of the money
- The value of a new giver right now is higher than ever. Engage them!
- Resource: Generis New Givers ebook. It’s mainly about gratitude. About connection with them and appreciation for their gift.
- “When it comes to giving, I’m more concerned about what happens within the four walls of your church than I am about the external factors.”
People were leaving the room before Covid…
- Church avg attendance numbers were broken. Frequency of a worshiper was higher 10 years ago than it is now.
- When it comes to church attendance, our scorecards have been outdated for a long time and we just haven’t acknowledged it.
- What does your engagement look like? Not just your attendance.
Are you retaining first and second-time donors? Get a free copy of the Generis Ebook: First-Time Givers for your team at the Ascent Leader website here.
Check out more about Generis
Get Jim’s book – Contagious Generosity
Intentional Churches – Connect with Doug Parks & Bart Rendell for member engagement beyond attendance.
Are you in Transition or have one on the horizon? We encourage you to check out more about our cohort work and how you can get signed up at: https://theascentleader.org/cohorts/
Who Is Jim Sheppard?
Jim Sheppard is CEO & Principal of Generis, a consulting firm passionate about helping churches inspire and cultivate generosity through giving development, coaching, and strategy. After college, Jim passed the CPA exam and pursued a career as a financial executive. Though he grew up in the church, Jim was not a believer until he was 28. That part of his life intersected with his business life in 1991 when he thought he might be called to the pastorate. This came at a time when he was at a very high level in a major financial services company. After an intense spiritual period in his life, Jim realized that was not where God was calling him. Seven months later through a corporate buyout and a series of providentially inspired events, Jim moved from the corporate world to giving development for churches and ministry organizations. Jim is a student of generosity and is passionate about spreading it throughout the Church. For the last 27+ years, he has devoted his life to coaching pastors especially in navigating the resource limitations that restrict their ministry potential. Jim understands the financial challenges that churches face today; annual giving, debt, capital projects, and planned giving. He is a positive force in bridging these needs with the power of spiritually motivated stewardship. Cumulatively, Jim has partnered with his clients to raise over $1.7 billion for local church ministry. Jim is a frequent writer and speaker on generosity and ministry funding. He is co-author of Contagious Generosity: Creating A Culture Of Giving In Your Church. Jim and his wife, Nancy, live in the Atlanta, GA area and they have two married daughters. He is actively involved in his church where he serves as an elder and provides guidance to the Generosity Ministry Team.
Instagram: @jim_sheppard and @generisteam
Thanks to our sponsor: Food For The Hungry.
Combine your church’s heart for the poor and Food for the Hungry’s global experience at fh.org/churches.
The Art of Leadership Academy – https://careynieuwhof.com/the-art-of-leadership-academy/
Quotes From Episode
“The effect of inflation is more likely to land on our staff than it is on our givers.”
“Our giving has the power to transform us, if we allow it to happen.”
“It’s not a stewardship series, it’s a series about life.”
“When it comes to church attendance, our scorecards have been outdated for a long time and we just haven’t acknowledged it.”
“All givers are the same, but not all gifts are the same.”
Listen to Recent Episodes
About the Host
Sean Morgan is a coach and speaker with a national reputation as a catalyst of fresh vision. His passion is to help ministries navigate obstacles and turn them into opportunities.
Throughout his career, Sean has pioneered initiatives impacting thousands of leaders across the country. He started out serving as Executive Pastor and CFO at New Life Church in northern California.
As host, Sean gives you access to amazing conversations, hard-won wisdom, and poignant insights from world-class leaders in intimate “living room” settings.
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