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:
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!