Measuring Church Health: How much money should people give?

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They may not say it out loud, but I’ve talked with enough pastors through the years to know their are two key numbers they’re interested in–attendance and giving. Attendance matters because it’s one measure we have of the impact the church is having in a community. Ironically, giving may actually be a better measure, though, of the real heart change that Jesus is having in people’s lives.

With that, let me share the data from the church’s we’ve served. I have a feeling this is going to be very sobering for some of you.

Per Capita Giving

That’s right. For the churches we’ve served over the years, the average giving per person per week is between $37 and $45. You can ask Ryan who has helped me with the data and analysis. This is the one benchmark I’ve asked him to recheck on several occasions. That number is much higher than I would have expected.

Now, as you might imagine, there appear to be several variables that will impact this measure. For example, location matters. There are regions of the country where the cost-of-living and wage levels will drive this number up or down. Who you’re reaching also matters. If your church is reaching people outside the faith, it takes time for them to get to the point where they’re ready to give.

That said, your stewardship strategy also matters. Churches that have experienced increases in per capita giving have engaged several of these intentional actions:

  • Identifying a champion for stewardship systems and strategies at the church.
  • Annually teaching a series of messages on biblical money and stewardship principles. And by “series” I mean three to five consecutive messages, not three messages spread out during the year.
  • Providing coaching for people who need help getting to a healthy place with their personal finances.
  • Engaging stewardship campaigns with companies like RSI Stewardship, one of my strategic partners, to fund their vision. They do stewardship every day, and they know stuff you don’t know.
  • Connecting giving with vision. Connecting giving with stories of life change. Connecting giving with spiritual disciplines. Generosity becomes a value that’s not only important to the church’s health–it’s priority for helping people take their next steps toward Christ.

What are you doing to intentionally help people embrace biblical stewardship principles and apply them to their lives? Are you helping people take their next steps in their area, or are you avoiding the issue for fear of how people will react?

Let me just offer this. If people are stuck financially, they’re looking for help. If you engage this topic with a biblical approach, people will respond in a very positive way. In fact, don’t be surprised if your series helping people tackle financial challenges also grows your attendance. I’ve seen it happen many times.

Want to learn more about measuring church health, here are the previous articles in this series:

Need some help connecting your giving strategy to your mission and vision? We’d love to serve you with a Strategic Operating Plan. You can’t accomplish vision without a strategy to get there. Contact us if you want to learn more.

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About Author

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.

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