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.
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.
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":
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.