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CHOOSING TO LIVE Financing the Future of Religious Body Headquarters by J. David Schmidt Christian S


In Choosing to Live author J. David Schmidt reports on a study underwritten by ... People live at the edge of their checkbooks, their workweek, their evenings. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: CHOOSING TO LIVE Financing the Future of Religious Body Headquarters by J. David Schmidt Christian S

CHOOSING TO LIVEFinancing the Future of
Religious Body Headquartersby J. David
Schmidt(Christian Stewardship Association,
1996)Reviewed byG. Edward Reid, Stewardship
DirectorNorth American Division
  • In Choosing to Live author J. David Schmidt
    reports on a study underwritten by the Lilly
    Endowment and supported by the National Council
    of Churches, the National Association of
    Evangelicals, and the Christian Stewardship
    Association. Throughout 1994 and 1995 an
    extensive survey questionnaire was sent to more
    than 220 Protestant denominations in the United
    States. Thirty one (31) denominational
    headquarters responded, including the Seventh-day
    Adventist Church. The 31 denominations represent
    about one-third of all U.S. Protestant churches
    and a third of Protestants in the country.

  • According to the Yearbook of American and
    Canadian Churches, denominations represent
    roughly 65 percent of all Protestant churches in
    the United States. About a third of all
    Protestant churches could be classified as
    independent, non-denominational, or not aligned
    with a specific denomination.

The Bottom Line Big Question
  • What choices need to be made now to provide the
    funding needed to perpetuate the appropriate
    functions of denominations into the future?
  • In other words, what do denominations need to do
    now to maintain the financial support of their
    pastors and local churches?

  • Choosing to Live gives an unbiased look at
    financial problems confronting denominational
    organizations today. Best of all, they give
    solutions that work from churches who have
    successfully met the challenges.

A Time of Change
  • The author indicates that the most significant
    factor affecting the financial support base is
    the fact that We are in the midst of some
    tectonic changes which nullify old response
    patterns. Accordingly, maintaining a status
    quo, is no longer an option.

9 Forces of Postmodernism
  • The research indicates that there are nine
    eternal forces that are having a serious effect
    on the financial support of denominations by
    people in the pew and the pastorate. They are as

  • 1. An Anemic Worldview.
  • Many church members have a secular worldview
    that is almost identical to our modern culture.
    The words, Does it work? have replaced, Is
    it right? If it works for you, then go right
    ahead.Another question frequently asked is,
    What does God have to do with my money?

  • 2. Privatization.
  • People are more concerned about themselves
    than others. Look after number 1. It is Meet
    my needs on my time schedule. There is a loss
    of institutional loyalty. People pick up and go
    where they think they will receive the most
    value. Privatization is seen in the pervasive
    sense that people want to be left alone on the
    weekends. People become more interested in local
    needs such as choir robes, new carpet, paving the
    parking lot, etc. than for the fulfillment of the
    great commission.

  • 3. Pluralism.
  • Whatever you are into is o.k. Pluralism is an
    extreme tolerance for multiple worldviews,
    different religions and consequently, multiple
    ways to achieve salvation and eternal life.
    Pluralists are uncomfortable with proselytizing
    or even with people with strongly held views or
    with those who challenge the views of others.
    When this view is held, people fail to see the
    need to evangelize the world or to spend money
    to extend the gospel.

  • 4. Relativism.
  • In a realistic world, there are no moral
    absolutes or immutable truth. Whatever a person
    believes is deemed o.k. by others and society at
    large. Tolerance is the politically correct
    position. Tentatively held beliefs are not
    strong enough to hold people together. There is
    no accountability. The narrow way is not part
    of the vocabulary.

  • 5. Loss of Margin.
  • The preferred currency today is time not
    money. People seem to have the same lack of time
    as they do money. Living without a margin of
    time or money is part of our lifestyle today.
    People live at the edge of their checkbooks,
    their workweek, their evenings. They even cram
    their weekends. Even their church life is
    frenetic. Such people are no longer concerned
    with building a better world. Instead, they
    simply want to survive another day.

  • 6. Socioeconomic Fermentation.
  • There is an increasing split between the
    economic haves and have-nots. Rising divorce
    rates have unbalanced the family. Saving is out.
    Credit cards and debt are in. Job security is a
    memory. Demands for a better lifestyle makes
    responding to the need of the church and others
    nearly impossible.

  • 7. Information Technology Advancement.
  • Many people are so connected to their pagers
    and cell phones that they use them in the
    cafeteria line, while walking to their cars or to
    an appointment, or even to interrupt a
    conversation with another person. There is also
    a demand for relevant and savvy information.
    Many people rely on their computer and the
    Internet for much of their information.

  • 8. Rising Value of Oral Communication.
  • Television has taken many people away from
    reading and made them dependent on oral
    communication. The value system of the
    entertainment industry is now the value system of
    our culture. Many churches are not set up to
    share the stories of their members.

  • 9. Hyperbole.
  • Given all of the above and its compounding
    effects, many of the forces in our lives seem to
    be exaggerated. People have begun to believe
    that these forces are much stronger than they
    actually are. With the resulting higher stress
    levels many people become disillusioned with
    institutions even the church.

  • These nine forces of postmodernism just listed
    are having a measurable impact on church members
    and their church involvement and giving habits.
    Denominational leadership must recognize these
    factors that affect the lives of church members
    and devise methods of dealing with them.

CHOICE 1 To acknowledge cultures impact on
  • To really make a difference in the financial
    support in churches, the following changes must
    take place
  • 1. Younger people would have to practice
    stewardship and get a better understanding of how
    their church works.

  • 2. Pastors and churches would have to teach
    stewardship, biblical financial management
    principles, and tithing.
  • 3. Denominational leaders would have to do a
    better job of communicating the needs, purposes,
    vision, and projects of the church. They would
    have to lead, teach, model, and mentor
    stewardship principles. They would have to
    challenge pastors more and give churches more

  • Leaders already know. Biblical stewardship.
    Stewardship principles resources by the
    denomination, taught by the pastor, and caught
    and practiced by the attendees.
  • It is wishful thinking on the part of the
    denominational leaders to think that non-givers
    will somehow magically start giving once their
    kids are raised. If they havent practiced
    giving in the past, they will not, without major
    effort, be transformed into givers.

CHOICE 2 - To acknowledge the sovereignty of the
  • The pew is not always right or mature, and does
    not always have a complete picture. But
    understanding the pew, and appropriately
    responding to it, is critical to future financial
  • The survey found that pastors are relied upon
    more than any other channel of communication in
    the denominational cause.

  • The survey found that 60 percent of pastors
    could be considered supporters of the
    denomination. But what was most significant was
    that 40 percent of pastors are considered passive
    or hostile!

CHOICE 3 To serve your real customer, the
church (and pastor)
  • A new level of service from the denomination
    will be required. This service will need to be
    spiritual and exhibit vitality. The denomination
    will need to clearly communicate the vision of
    the church and what is being accomplished by the
  • Teaching Biblical values and an ongoing
    stewardship education program is a step in the
    right direction.

CHOICE 4 To respond to new realities
  • Donor attrition must be faced squarely in every
    denomination. There must be intentional steps to
    replace lost donors. The recommended points are
  • - sufficient evangelism.
  • - stewardship training of all ages which results
    in a new set of givers.
  • - provide a range of giving opportunities to
    stimulate new donors.
  • - working closely with pastors will pay

CHOICE 5 To get out of fundraising and
  • The survey found that denominations that pursue
    parachurch fundraising methods like direct mail
    solicitation will continue to be short of
    necessary funds.
  • Direct mail cost would be much better spent on
    stewardship education to develop the number of
    committed stewards.
  • The future will belong to those groups which are
    willing to take the long view and develop their
    expertise in raising up people with stewardship

1. God has provided ALL our resources.
2. God has given each of us the responsibility
to manage these resources as stewards.
3. God will ultimately hold us accountable for
how we use His resources.
Of all religious bodies, the denomination is
best positioned to influence and develop
stewardship values in their constituency. Yet
this distinctive is largely underresourced in the
majority of denominations.
  • Historically the emphasis on missions preceded
  • stewardship emphasis. Missions presented the
  • need. Stewardship met the challenge. Through
  • years the prosperity of the one has been
  • on the other. This link between extension of the
  • gospel and church and stewardship should not be
  • dismissed lightly.

  • It is rooted in sound Biblical thinking about
  • - Giving is a part of worship. Ps. 11618, 19
  • Mal 310
  • - All believers need to personally experience
    the truth of Jesus words that it is more
    blessed to give than to receive. Acts 2035
  • - All need to have their hearts focused on
    heaven which results from giving here on earth.
    Lk. 1234
  • - All need to be the recipients of Gods
    special love which flows to the cheerful giver.
  • 2 Cor. 97
  • - All need to recognize that God is the owner
    of everything. Ps. 241

  • 2. It is structurally sound.
  • Everyone who works for the denominationat all
    levelsshould recognize that stewardship is an
    essential task in every congregation.
  • Pastors of local churches must see stewardship
    education as part and parcel of Christian

  • 3. It is culturally relevant.
  • Effective stewardship education today has to
    be I a language people understand. It must tell
    stories people relate to.
  • People must understand that a non-tither is
    still an outsider. He is a guest in the home.
    Tithing makes one an insider. One is now part
    of the team, sharing with other gladly and
    unselfishly the responsibility of keeping the
    doors open and spreading the gospel.

  • It focuses on values development.
  • Stewardship education helps people become
    aware of the mission of the church and respond
    to it. It helps people prioritize their

  • It meets people at their point of spiritual need.
  • People fundamentally want to have their finances
    under control. Much of the material distributed
    by denominations is still about the program
    what a person can do for the denomination.
  • An effective stewardship education program from
    the denominational office must have, as its
    focus, the spiritual vitality (in the area of
    managing life resources- of the people it is
    intended to serve. Any agenda otherwise will
    cause a misfire.

  • It is segmented to meet the spiritual
  • needs of people at every life stage.
  • An effective stewardship education strategy
    will provide services and resources for all ages
    of church members children, teens, singles,
    parents, retirees which is targeted to the
    maturity level of each group.

  • It is resourced at the proper level of urgency.
  • This is the acid test. If the need is truly
    recognized, resources will flow to meet it.
    Every denomination has the funds to strengthen
    its stewardship education. It takes active
    choosing to tap reserves, change policy, sell
    unusable property, and drop no-longer-effective
    programs to free up new resources.

  • It is done with excellence.
  • Cant be mediocre. Cant be boring or poorly
    produced. Low budget communicates low priority.
    It must be age, gender, and ethnically balanced.

  • It is sustained.
  • Stewardship education is not a triennial
    affair. It must be viewed as an ongoing,
    never-ending process not an occasional event
    which is planned for the future. To be
    effective, churches must be provided with a
    calendar and matching resources which allow the
    church the regular opportunities to utilize.

  • It is mass-customized.
  • Pastors should not find it difficult to use in
    their local field.

  • It holds leaders responsible.
  • Holding leaders accountable on certain values
    sends the message that those values are
    important. Pastors are notorious for avoiding
    the topic of money even when handed highly
    effective stewardship education resources.
    Annual evaluations conducted by conference
    personnel should include helping pastors be
    accountable for the development of stewardship
    values in their churches.

  • It is multimedia based.
  • An effective strategy must utilize multiple
    media today. Each piece must follow the same
    theme/logo and be a part of the marketing plan.
    A professionally developed strategy and tool mix
    is essential. Telling stories in every practical
    media with excellence is vital to your overall

  • Recognize those who cooperate.
  • Pastors and churches which are deeply
    committed to developing stewards should be
    publicly acknowledged for their commitment.

  • It must be a win/win for all involved.
  • The pastor must see any stewardship training
    for himself or his people as a win for his
    personal finances, his church, and the
    denominational cause.

CHOICE 6 To sow seed of stewardship and reap a
harvest of stewards
  • Denominational leaders really need to empower
    their professional development office to design,
    implement, and work the strategy. This is a
    major issue and perhaps why so few denominations
    have strategic development plans. Too many top
    leaders only look at the bottom line.
  • Shared vision pulls people together. An unclear
    or diverse vision leads to frustration.

CHOICE 7 To organize for the results you
  • 8 Action Steps for Running a More Effective
    Development Department
  • 1. Develop an appropriate mission list of
    expected results.
  • 2. Invest in matching people to their area of
  • 3. Make ongoing training a part of the job
  • 4. Insist on and provide funds for regular
    national research of constituents and pastors.

  • 8 Action Steps continued
  • 5. Provide funds for stewardship education,
    development, and distribution.
  • 6. Insist on annual written plan.
  • 7. Provide play money funds for bold,
    outrageous experimentation.
  • 8 Fuel the team with outside resources using
    consultants and qualified pastors.

Denominational leaders should understand and
be able to articulate what business the
denominational headquarters is really in.
  • What do churches get back for
  • being legally bound to the
  • denomination?

  • One of the major problems that has troubled the
    financial underpinnings has been the tendency of
    some denominations to drift away from their
    founding cause. Restating the original mission
    and an adherence to it will strengthen the
    financial vitality of the organization.
  • The denominations mission must be clear.
  • The question which every denomination must
    wrestle with, with both courage and intellectual
    honesty, is, What is the relationship between
    our present condition and whatever drift has
    occurred from our original mission and beliefs?

The return to the denominations basic roots is
key to funding success because
  • Money follows authentic ministry.
  • People will pay for dialogue only so long.
    Eventually authentic ministry must be the basis
    for giving.
  • New money must come from new people. And this
    means evangelism! New money can come from only
    two places
  • a. Current non-giving younger
    members/attenders who need to catch the
    denominational vision
  • b. New people who are currently outside the

A Bottom Line Problem
  • In functional terms, the church has not obeyed
    the Lords commission to make disciples. Because
    of this disobedience, it is suffering. Our
    churches are populated with members who are not
    ready to evangelize others. Many pastors have
    failed to equip their members to carry out the
    task. Many members are superficial consumers who
    love affluence and themselves too much to break
    patterns and reach the lost.

  • Stewardship training has not been part of the
    conservative or evangelical discipleship paradigm
    for decades. As a result a whole generation has
    grown up with little or no Biblical framework for
    making money decisions. In its most basic form,
    evangelicals must discover that how they handle
    paychecks is a reflection of their discipleship.

There is shared responsibility for teaching
financial faithfulness.
  • Whether or not a lay person drops a check (his
    tithe and offerings) in the offering is the
    responsibility of
  • - the local pastor, who in turn should be
    held accountable by
  • - the local conference leaders, who in turn
    should be held accountable by
  • - the union and division leadership, who in
    turn should be held accountable by the General
    Conference Committee.

The surveys concluded that
  • Never, never, never, should anyone be invited to
    be a member of a church board or committee at any
    level who is not already a generous giver.
    Where your treasure is, there will your heart be
    also. Why should a person be a leader in an
    organization if his/her heart is not in it?

CHOICE 9 To solve problems systemically
  • In order to fix the stewardship problems the
    entire denominational system must be involved
  • -Seminaries -Communications
  • -Laity -Trust Services
  • -Pastors -Stewardship
  • -Conference Leaders -Administrative Leaders
  • -Treasury -Foreign Missions

  • Two thousand years ago, a woman reached out and
    touched the robe of a rabbi named Jesus, who had
    the power to heal her. She chose a course of
    action. And in that moment of faith and
    touching, she found the freedom from her pain.
    Long before the first denomination ever came into
    existence, this same God was at work in the lives
    of men and women, proving Himself faithful to
    anyone who would call on Him. He remains the
    same for us. For it is in choosing Him and His
    ways that we will find new life for ourselves and
    our denominations.

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