Matthew 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Why Aren't Church Members Giving? Pastors Say Because Members are "Spiritually Complacent" and Just Don't Understand "Biblical Generosity"

Churches everywhere are hurting. Membership is declining, giving is down, and most churches are behind 5% to 15% in their budgeted receipts. Mega churches that built huge worship centers in the 1980s and 1990s, now are facing the expense of rising utility costs and the cost of repairing aging buildings. Some prominent churches are cutting staff, reducing what little ministries they WERE doing for the community, and struggle to pay their bills and salaries. I know. It is happening right here in Jacksonville, Florida.

And what is sad, is that pastors can't understand why. According to data released this month from the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability (ECFA), pastors believe that the number one reason for the decrease in giving is...get this:

"Spiritual Complacency"

Yes, the members are just not spiritual enough. Of course, how much money one gives to their church is a measure of spirituality, right? Not their devotion to their family, their career and profession, how they treat their wives or their generosity in giving time and money to their community. Nope. It's all about the Benjamins - and how many of them you are putting in the offering plate. Pastors actually believe spiritual complacency is the number one "obstacle" to the churches getting the money they need for their buildings and salaries.

Then, the number 2 obstacle is the "current economic environment", followed by, get this:

"Inadequate Understanding of Biblical Generosity"

This is ironic. I would say that the reason for the decline in church giving is the exact OPPOSITE of these two reasons. You see, Christians are wising up. They are realizing churches are poor investments for their charitable gifts. They are waking up to the reality that their church is NOT the "kingdom of God" as  pastors are trying to make members believe. The majority of the money given to churches is spent on professional clergy salaries and benefits, and on buildings that sit empty 6 days of the week. Not on actual ministry - at least ministry as defined by Jesus.

So it is not spiritual complacency, it is "spiritual maturity", pastors. Deal with it.

And make no mistake, when most evangelical holy men refer to "biblical generosity", they are referring to the idea that people must give a minimum of 10% of their income to the 501(c3) religious organization in order to be "obedient" and completely committed to Jesus. So to say members don't have an adequate understanding of biblical generosity, is to say they just don't understand the biblical concept or storehouse tithing. Hence, you get wacked-out sermons like this one from Ronnie Floyd, or the many we've highlighted here from Steve Gaines.

Here is a very telling quote from Steve Busby, the president of the ECFA regarding the data:
“Church leaders are extremely satisfied with how they manage financial resources. However, they are less satisfied with how they cast the vision for funding the ministry.”
There you go. Pastors need more money. So they will come up with ways to "cast the vision" to fund the ministry. Sound familiar? Has your pastor recently "cast vision" recently that involved your pocketbook? Of course.

How will pastors be doing this? What strategies will they use?

Gimmicks. Tricks. Cons. All sold as "visions" from God.

But the people in increasing numbers are catching on, with the help of social media and bloggers who are exposing their methods.

So stay tuned! More to come on this topic!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not just at the mega- church level people are not giving. My mother attends a medium sized SBC Church with three full time church staffers.
They have been asking for additional funding in order to meet payroll for the last year.
Two of the staffers are eligible for retirement. One has a position that actually should be reduced to part time.
The membership roll is down, thus fewer giving, yet, the church staff still has grand ideas of building a new building.
As my mother says, " two of the three need to go, and one needs to be part time." ( they would be better with a younger minister with less of a pay demand, and either one other full time staffer, or two part timers.)
It's not just her church, it is several other area churches with guys who are just hanging on, until they can retire...meanwhile, they've no drive, no ambition, to win folks to Christ, just draw a paycheck and do the minimum....

bobfelton said...

It's a lot to read, but this paper (Bankrupting the Faith, http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=pamelafoohey) finds that most church bankruptcies arise from poor leadership. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

I would suggest there is only one God given vision in scripture for the church at large and it is captured as the Great Commission.

Anonymous said...

I have bounced back and forth whether to type this...now I will in hopes of reaching some with a diff perspective.
I and my family are truly blessed daily by God and He is soooo good.
The current crop of "pastors" simply disgust me. Many have slowly slidden away from true "forsaking it all and surrendering to the ministry" to the current "its a JOB" mentality.
Ex. Our past church and unfortunately even our new home church.
My wife and I have been faithful to our work for years 40-50+ hours a week. Faithful to our church so much so that only our elementary age child is not involved in an actual working/leadership role. Faithful to ministry in that we actually have taken in an individual to help get them back on their feet. We do truly live within our means (by faith) with no credit cards/ debt. I could continue but you get the picture... ALL is to HIS glory!!!!!

Now after 10+ years wtih no vacation benefits (we did take 1 1/2 weeks in 2012), no health insurance, no retirement, no sick days - NO Benefits. We work mon-fri then take care of home chores and home schooling sat then basically at church all day Sunday (it is our "rest" and recharge).
So here is what Ive found... In order to not experience undue burden by hearing how they take Mondays off. Or are vacationing in south Florida. Or spending their umptenth family time at a major theme park since they have peace that they can one day "retire" with Association paid housing and retirement. I have found that other than at church I dont really speak to them much. We work and witness during the week. Corporate worship on sunday and back to it on monday. I really love my church but sometimes yea...it "hurts". Again, God is so good to my family but somwhere things/ ministry has gotten way off track.

Anonymous said...

The ECFA president is "Dan Busby" not Steve Busby.

Anonymous said...

So very grateful that you posted this information. It feels like progress, although small churches are likely to suffer the most from this paradigm shift. After enduring years of spiritual extortion I was finally able to see the truth regarding the "Blessed/Cursed Life" mainly due to blogs like yours. Aside from the whole Mosaic Law issue, what church "needs" to be taking in almost $2 Million per week? Gateway Church has a positive net worth of $116 Million already, yet Robert Morris speaks about giving every single week he preaches and BRAGS about this. How is this one church (5 campuses) taking in 9 figures per year under the threat of curses and demonic possession if you don't give a minimum of 10% of your gross pay, biblical? This is big business and their shameless tactics could make Morgan Stanley guys shake their heads then rub their hands and take notes. So many of these new mega church pastors haven't even graduated from a seminary. Nine figures a year is only going to attract more charlatans to this "profession." Frankly it appears that writers like you are the only thing standing between them and more deceived sheep. May God bless you for shining the light of truth in a world filled with mega church pastors drunk with avarice.

Squidaloopa said...

Hey guys

Well you all seem to be in the US. You’ll be glad to know it all happens here Down Under in Australia. Phrases like

“Tithing is a sign of spiritual maturity”,
or that you got to give BOTH tithes and offerings,
that the New Testament apostles didn’t talk about tithing because it “was just the beginning” (level of giving), or
“your maturity as a Christian is determined on your attitude to money”,
“Planting a seed of faith for your miracle breakthrough”
or my absolute favourite (which is not tested in Scripture) – “give your way out of debt!”. I mean, they’re just great aren’t they!

Buildings funds are rife, expanding churches buildings that probably don’t need to be, giving them tiered cinema seating, big LCD screens on the wall, so they can be hip and relevant to outsiders who probably won’t ever step foot in a church.

Now, I’m not against giving. I know God provides our needs as our Heavenly Father (whether you give or NOT), and yes He may or may not give you money back straight away when you give. But to use the old Malachi scripture to say we’re cursed just doesn’t cut it. Yes, Christians ARE waking up. People here are leaving the “contemporary” and hype churches more and more, and unfortunately often going nowhere.

Prosperity doctrine and fleecing money from people comes down to this: people are often poor, or don’t have as much as they’d like to. Preachers say that God has a ‘breakthrough’ for them if they plant a ‘seed of faith’. And people are so desperate for extra money they keep coughing up money, even putting their own families at risk, just to see this ‘financial breakthrough’. Yes, some probably do. Does everyone? No.

Finally - my parents (freely) gave faithfully for 40 years, and never had move than the 3 bedroom wooden house and 2 cheap cars, and they worked themselves to the bone to provide for us. And yes, God did provide miraculously; our fridge blew up. A few days later Dad won one in a Maccas competition. But they weren’t flush with money – they didn’t get given a brand new car, didn’t have a $1million house in Hamilton overlooking the Brisbane River (ooh, I’ve exposed where I live!)- does that mean they were spiritually immature? Did the widow who gave her mite suddenly get given a house overlooking Lake Galilee?