WINCHESTER, Va. – A new survey from ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) reveals that most churches lack a written strategy for inspiring people in biblical generosity.
The first annual “Church Stewardship Survey” (www.ecfa.org/content/surveys) found that more than two-thirds of churches have no written biblical generosity strategy, and nearly 60 percent said they did not have a written philosophy for teaching people what the Bible says about money and possessions.
“The survey findings should trigger thoughtful discussions among pastors, stewardship pastors, senior staff, church boards and elders,” said Dan Busby, president of the ECFA (www.ecfa.org). “We encourage church leaders to study the stewardship and generosity trends and practices in other churches and then establish their own priorities for increasing effectiveness.”
Spiritual complacency was ranked as the greatest obstacle to increased giving. Church leaders were asked to rank the top five areas that currently are the greatest obstacles to increasing giving. Just over 48 percent rated “spiritual complacency among members/attenders” as the “#1 Obstacle,” yet “current economic environment” had the most Top 5 votes. The third greatest obstacle was “inadequate understanding of biblical generosity.”
The executive summary of the survey includes 10 highlights and 14 strategic observations.
“Church leaders are extremely satisfied with how they manage financial resources,” said Busby. “However, they are less satisfied with how they cast the vision for funding the ministry.”
The survey identified a segment of “leading churches” that experienced increased giving in 2013 and were in the top 25 percent of per-attendee giving among survey responders. Several characteristics were common among these leading churches:
- The per-attendee giving of leading churches is 74 percent higher than other churches.
- Leading churches set their budgets about 10 percent below their giving levels, indicating a fiscal conservatism; other churches set their budgets just one percent below their giving levels, leaving little cushion.
- Leading churches are also more likely to use three giving channels: kiosk giving, text-based giving and face-to-face/personal visits about giving.
- As part of being intentional about thanking givers, leading churches send personal thank you notes, they call givers and express appreciation, and they disciple and engage givers with meaningful gifts.
“This first survey is one of many resources in ECFA’s continuing commitment to provide stewardship resources for churches,” said Busby. “As we review best practices and trends, church leaders can better discern how to raise Kingdom resources in God-honoring ways.”