Resources For Pastors

We recommend to pastors and church leaders that you take the time to "step out" your congregational giving this year. Using a chart like the one in the photo (from Herb Miller's Grow1 Stewardship Program), you can easily see how people are supporting the church as well as challenge members to consider moving up a step. Many congregations share the concern that only a few members are generating most of the church's gifts; at a recent conference we heard from a pastor whose church has 10% of the members giving 45% of its budget. Analyzing the giving through steps can help church leaders identify opportunities for growth in generosity as well as give the congregation a simple and clear picture of their contributions.

When I work with congregations in our “Grace, Generosity and Gratitude” stewardship program, I’m often asked these questions:  How do we move forward? How do we grow ministry? What do we have to continue to do? What do we have to stop doing?  What should we add?

In our churches we often talk about what’s broken – what needs to be fixed. Then, if there’s time left over, we continue to do what we’re good at and what we do well. And what happens? You guessed it. Nothing changes.

In an op-ed about planned giving in the Winston-Salem Journal last winter, there was a statistic that I found interesting. The author (Mike Wells) said that roughly 70% of Americans give to charities of some kind during their lifetime, but less than 6% give to charities at their death. He went on to say that “perhaps all of us should give more thought to providing financial support beyond our lives for those efforts or organizations that advance the values and principles which we hold dear”. [Wells, M. (2014, December 6). Remember Charities in your Estate Planning.

When we meet with church leaders about encouraging their members to remember the church in their estate plans, we sometimes hear from people who think planned giving efforts are for larger, wealthier congregations that are "better off". This isn't true! To emphasize this point, we share the following story from Michael Reeves, author of "Creative Giving":

A congregation in a small farming community received word that a former resident and church member had included the church in her will. Her declining health had required her to relocate from the community several decades earlier in order to be closer to her family.

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"
 
God is a real world God, which means God is in the common things of this world. These common things show us God’s genius and provide opportunities for our transformation.
 
Money is one of these things. Money is neither positive nor negative. Money is simply a tool. If the Bible says anything about money, it says that this tool, used wrongly, will
wound our souls and our communities. Jesus talked a lot about money.
 

From the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, verses 13-21: Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But Jesus said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

Paul, Laura and I have had two very productive meetings with the South Branch RCC. For our Northern Province readers, the 2010 Southern Province Synod created Regional Conferences of Churches (or RCCs), which are small clusters of congregations and fellowships that meet together to enable communication, build unity and expand community throughout the Province.

If you are considering making a gift to a Moravian church or agency, and you have stock which you have held for more than one year which has appreciated in value, thus making it capital gain property, you might want to consider making a stock gift.  In most cases, contributions of capital gain property can be tax-deductible at the fair market value on the day the gift is made.  For more specific information, please see page 11 of IRS Publication 526 - Charitable Contributions.  Please note that we are not in the business of giving tax advice, and every situation is different, so check with your accountant, stockbroker, or financial adviser on your specific financial picture.

"The single biggest factor determining whether a church is going to get healthier is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the pastor."

Pastors are the key to change and transparency in their congregations; if the pastor isn't leading the way, change can't take place. What sets pastors apart as leaders? According to the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving:

They lead from the front. They are more than cheerleaders; they personally embody the values and the vision of the congregation. They build a cohesive leadership team, demand organizational clarity, and inspire and birth trust.

The Federal Reserve recently reported that household net worth in the United States is at an all-time high. The growth in 2013 alone was $9.8 trillion, or 14 percent. The ongoing economic recovery has led to a drop in unemployment figures and a rise in the value of real estate, stocks, and other investments. Improving economic conditions such as these have historically led to a boost in charitable giving.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word "campaign"? Politics? The military? Or, do you think of money, as "campaign" is often paired with "capital"? Many churches resist considering capital campaigns as they involve money and are a lot of hard work. Luckily we found several Moravians eager to talk about their recent experiences with capital campaigns for their churches, or, in the case of one, for Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp in the Southern Province. An article about these conversations will be published in an upcoming issue of The Moravian magazine, but we're excited to give you a preview of them on our website over the next few weeks.

Paul addressed the Southern Province Synod last week and hopes all pastors, lay leaders, and members will consider the questions he poses at the end of his remarks.

Good day, friends and colleagues. I am delighted to bring you greetings from the Trustees and staff of your Moravian Ministries Foundation.

A few weeks ago Chi-Chi and I had the pleasure of leading a session on Growing Generosity and Gratitude at the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries' Leadership Focus held at Friedberg Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC. As you know from an earlier blog post, we are participating in a program on religious giving at the Lake Institute in Indianapolis; we are very excited about what we've learned and are eager to incorporate it into our work for the Moravian Church.

Do you open your church board meetings with devotions? We especially like this one, titled Seeing Abundance, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's 2004 Devotional Guide for Congregation Councils and Committees by Stanley J. Meyer.

"The Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him." Exodus 16:8

Many churches have found the narrative budget to be a useful tool for connecting money with ministry as well as talking about the future needs of the congregation. As its name implies, the narrative budget tells a story: the story of how specific components of the church's budget contribute to the life of the church as a community of faith and assist it with fulfilling its mission. Rather than simply seeing a line item dollar amount for electricity, for example, the narrative budget shows what that amount means in terms of ministry; it divides the expense into areas such as worship and congregational care.

In September 2013 a small group of Moravian clergy from the Northern and Southern Provinces gathered in Winston-Salem to discuss the important connection between money and ministry. We later asked those pastors to reflect on the conversation, and Rev. Russell Williams shared these thoughts:

If you are looking for some thought-provoking reading this year, we recommend the following titles:

Good to Great and the Social Sectors by Jim Collins: This monograph explains why business thinking is not the answer for what makes non-profits succeed, and it provides you with a new way of looking at your church, its leadership and how it can become "great". By exploring what you are deeply passionate about, what drives your resource engine and what you can be the best in the world at, Collins gives churches a way to focus their energy to discover what lies at the intersection of these three "circles", which is crucial for long-term viability.

Is your church considering a capital campaign? If so consider conducting a feasibility study. Moravian Ministries Foundation Vice President Chi-Chi Messick explains why:

A feasibility study determines a congregation's readiness to launch a capital campaign. More specifically, the consultant gathers answers to three questions:

  1. How knowledgeable are the congregants about the proposed project?
  2. What questions or barriers remain which must be addressed before launching a campaign?
  3. How much money are congregants likely to contribute to the proposed project?

Why?

Are you or is someone in your congregation considering a gift of appreciated securities? This article explains the advantages and can be used in your church newsletter and on your church's website.

There are definite tax advantages in giving property that has appreciated in value and has been held long-term. Here's how it works:

Tom has 200 shares of ABC Corporation stock that he purchased for $20 a share three years ago; the current value of ABC Corp. stock is $47 a share. If Tom sold the stock, he would have a taxable long-term gain on the transaction that can be calculated in the following manner:

          $47 minus $20= $27 capital gain per share

          200 shares times $27= $5,400 in capital gains