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Creating a Climate For Giving

Creating a Climate for Giving brings a vision for encouraging a giving climate.  Joiner explores the subsystems through which a church leads its members to give or not to give. He advocates moving from "fund-raising" to "funding ministry."

"Living in this society takes money, but giving through the church is about more than money. It is about lives being changed. It is about never feeling lonely or unloved. It is about helping others. It is about children and youth. It is about personal salvation. It is about what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. It is about God's grace in our everyday lives. Giving through the church is about supporting the ministries of our church in exciting and glorious ways. Few people are born givers. For some, being a generous giver is a gift from God; for others, it was learned from parents who modeled tithing. For most, though, giving grows because of what church leaders do, and do not do, to help people learn what it means to give."

The strength of this books lies in its emphasis upon the need to develop a system for people to respond favorably.  He includes some strong and helpful stewardship principles.

Joiner combines a theoretical understanding of systemic stewardship with  eleven practical Stewardship Principles for Funding Ministry:

1. "People who are part of our churches are there because of a response to a spiritual quest in their lives to find meaning in God.
2. Christian stewards have not reached the apex of their spiritual journey.
3. Christian stewards who have received the love of God in their lives want and need to give.
4. The need of a person to give, or share, is more basic than the need of the church to receive.
5. Understanding oneself as a steward requires no less than a conversion of attitude toward one's possessions.
6. People enjoy knowing what monetary transactions make possible.
7. The church that knows what God wants them to do (vision) will have an easier time funding the ministry for which that church is called.
8. The church that thinks of money positively will find ways to help people give.
9. A church whose leaders are on a spiritual journey (exemplified in their giving, attendance, participation, prayer life) are part of a financially healthy congregation. In other words, when the leaders lead, the congregation will follow (Joiner's Law).
10. A church's stewardship will influence the members' stewardship.
11. A pastor who models giving will find a congregation following that lead."

The author differentiates between fund raising and funding ministry.
When you are "fundraising," the emphasis is on ownership in the individual, while in funding ministry the emphasis is on God's ownership.  The "Fundraising focus" is on institution, money, budget, member obligation and shortfall," while "funding ministry focus" is on the individual, ministry, results, donor relationships and possibilities."

The author points out that his study of per-member giving shows that more than one-half of the congregations have abandoned the annual campaign.  He says, don't abandon it, but expand the scope of the annual campaign to a year-round objective of giving birth to Christian philanthropists and funding ministry.  An effective financial campaign 1) makes a case of the ministry of the church, 2) communicates that case to the membership and 3) invites people to make a response.

The problem with the annual campaign is that after it is over, the committee disbands and forgets to do anything else.  

Joiner writes, "In recent studies of churches across North America, I made the following discoveries:
1. Churches that invite disciples to be stewards of all of life have financially healthier congregations.
2. When members connect activity, program, and even worship to that
church's mission and vision, then attendance, volunteering, and giving
3. People give when they are convinced there is something good happen-
ing with their giving. That message cannot be told only once a year
during an annual campaign.
4. What people put on their commitment card is not the most they will give to the church.
5. People give to people, ministries, and results, not to budgets, statistical analyses of spending, and reports.
6. Different people and demographic age groups (generations) listen, see, and hear the same information differently."

Joiner further elaborates on each of these points.  

The book would work well with for a discussion by a group who have a long as well as a short range perspective.

Comments by Jerry Hoffman


Donald W. Joiner is an ordained clergyperson serving as Operations Officer and Director of Fund Development at the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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