Christopher, J. Clif. Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 2008. Print.
Clif begins by reminding us that the number of not-for-profits is growing much faster than charitable giving.
In a increasingly competitive market place for the charitable dollar the local congregation is loosing. Why? Often it is simply because congregation members are not effectively asked for gifts.
Clif then explores why people give. He suggests that people do not give to balance a budget but to support compelling ministries around the world executed by organization in whom they have faith to spend the money well. This means that keeping the members very informed of the ministries of the whole church is a key factor in increasing gifts to the congregation.
Clif then talks about the pastor’s responsibility to monitor the member’s giving to be aware of sudden increases or decreases in giving in the same way a doctor would watch the vital signs of a patient or a teacher the test scores of the students. This is not to make a judgment but to respond to problems or growth.
The argument is often made that the pastor should not know about member giving so all members are treated equal. But we never treat our members equally, those with cancer get more attention than those who are well. The children are treated differently than the adults.
So a member who suddenly stops giving should get a pastoral visit just as someone who recently lost a loved one. Someone who dramatically increased their giving should get a thank you just as someone who completed a year of teaching Sunday school.
Yes, Clif sees the pastor as the primary fund raiser for the congregation. This will shock or offend many but Clif points out that in most not-for-profits the leader is also a fund raiser. In the remainder of his 89 page book Clif offers some very helpful step-by-step tips for helping people to be more generous to their congregation. Each chapter of the book ends with discussion questions and action items and would make for an excellent church council or stewardship committee study.
Pastor Mark A. Anderson
Assistant to the Bishop