June 1-7 , 2009



Increase Your Income

By Tuck Aaker

It seems that the most often requested question that I have had over the years about stewardship is "How can we increase income?" The answer to that question can take many paths, but to "cut to the chase", there are three ways to increase income in ANY congregation:

1. Increase your attendance/ membership.
2. Increase the amount of the gifts that your present members are giving.
3. Increase the number of present members that are giving.

As you can see this doesn’t require "Rocket Science", but it’s surprising how many people have difficulty figuring it out.

When I mention increasing attendance, they complain, "but that’s not Stewardship, that’s Evangelism!" O.K. I agree, so what? The question is how to increase income, not which path we are going to follow. The fact is, if you want to increase income you had better have your evangelism plan in motion too, because they work in harmony most of the time. People want to be a part of a growing congregation and when they see the growth, it affects their giving as well. So new members or increased attendance acts as a stimulus for the present members as well as adding new income from the additional people.

It seems that we have a "one track mind" when it comes to revenue streams because when we think of generating more income to fund our ministries, we always go directly to the size of member’s gifts as the only source available. Of course, it is the easiest of the three to change, since most people will increase their gifts if asked in the right way.

The key here is to inspire them to focus on THEIR NEED to show God their appreciation for their lives, rather then the CONGREGATION’S NEEDS to use the money and if this is done the results are almost always positive.

But don’t just focus on the size of member’s gifts alone because you will be missing the other two potentials that will strengthen your stewardship results overall. It’s obvious that adding new members will strengthen your congregation and your financial position as well. Adding ten new members in a year is probably equal to receiving a $10,000 bequest or a 10 percent increase in giving in many congregations.

And converting people who don’t give or give only sporadically into generous members, not only helps the financial picture but does wonders in building a "winning team".

he "bottom line" is that there is more than one way to increase income and it’s absolutely necessary to use all three of these methods to build a generous congregation.

If you are looking at your congregation’s stewardship and there is something missing ---- chances are it’s one of these three. Meet with your Evangelism Team Chair and lay out a plan. Review your plans for an appeal to motivate your members to give to say thanks for their blessings and add some ways that will invite those that are not participating to join your team. And most important of all --- ask God for his guidance --- that’s just good stewardship!

Tuck Aaker is a retired businessman who now consults and specializes on stewardship issues for the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the ELCA. He shares his expertise in Stewardship Now, a column he writes for ELCA Stewardship Resources.

New This Week:

Local Church Planned Giving Manual
Giving Manual CoverWow! The UCC declares it, “The quintessential Planned Giving resource!” And it’s not just hype. Here’s everything you may ever need to know to set up a planned giving ministry in your church. Available for free PDF download, the manual covers bequests, wills, endowments and other key issues. Click here for “Local Church Planned Giving Manual,” from the United Church of Christ financial development office.

Stewards in a Slump
Church of EnglandHere’s a great resource – available as a camera-ready booklet in color or black-and-white – listing seven stewardship reflections for Christians to consider during the economic crisis.  For instance, there’s “Learning Contentment” and “A Financial Downturn Can Be a Spiritual Upturn.” Click here for “Stewards in a Slump,” from Parish Resources, run by the stewardship office of the Church of England.

Lectionary Reflection: Ready or Not … Here We Go!
Sharron Lucas“Oh, yes, you can hide all you want, but ultimately God will get you. God will call you. God will name, claim, and send you in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Click here for “Ready or Not ...”. It’s this week’s lectionary reflection from Pastor Sharron Reissinger Lucas. Click here to read her archived columns.