Gauging The Health of Your Church Members
There are many ways you can assess the spiritual health of your church members. Faith, regular church attendance, and engagement in community groups are just a few of the behaviors that reveal the health of a church member. But perhaps the most revealing indicator is one that’s impossible to fake.
A church member can appear to have faith even when he doesn’t. He can attend church regularly, but not allow it to transform and impact his life spiritually. And, he can be part of a community of believers but remain distant and disengaged. All these a person can fake, but he can’t fake generosity. He either gives or he doesn’t. Giving or the lack thereof is a clear indicator of the health of your church members and your church.
Giving to Churches
A study by Nonprofit Source on online giving revealed the following related to giving to churches:
Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of an average congregation.
Christians are giving 2.5 percent of income.
The average giving by adults who attend US Protestant churches is about $17 a week.
37% of regular church attendees and Evangelicals don’t give money to the church.
In Luke chapter 7, there’s a story of a woman who goes to the house of a Pharisee named Simon, where Jesus is a guest. She goes behind Jesus and proceeds to wash his feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. She then kissed his feet and finally poured perfume on them. The story says that everyone in town knew of this woman’s sinful life, including the Pharisee who was hosting Jesus. The Pharisee then thinks to himself, surely if Jesus were a prophet, he would know the sinfulness of this woman, and He would not allow her to touch him. Jesus, knowing his thoughts, shares a story.
Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Knowing neither could pay him, he canceled both of their debts. Jesus then asks Simon, “Now which of them will love him more?” To which Simon answers, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus confirms he’s responded correctly. Then turning to the woman, he says to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman from the time I entered has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven - for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
How much has God done for you? What condition were you in when He found you? Romans 3:10-12 reminds us that “there is none righteous, no, not one;” We were enemies of God, opposed to His rule over our lives, living selfishly, apart from God. It was then that He reached out to us and saved us. He sent Jesus as a sacrifice for our redemption. No one has been forgiven a little.
Generosity, or the lack thereof, especially in this time of abundance, is the clearest indicator of where a Christian’s heart truly is. When a person is truly committed to God, giving is a form of worship (love expressed) practiced often. The lack of giving in our churches should be of great concern to church leaders because at a minimum it reveals a lack of complete trust in God, or worse, a lack of genuine commitment to God. Even if this is not an issue of salvation, it is, however, an issue that reveals an unhealthy condition that church leaders should not ignore.
Developing healthy givers
There are two main reasons why people don’t give — ignorance is one, and the other is inability. The good news is both can be addressed and corrected.
In Romans 10:17, we learn that “faith comes by hearing.” In other words, for people to learn and put their faith in God regarding their finances, they need to hear someone preach/teach on the topic. The verse goes on to say, “and hearing by the word of God.” Fortunately, the Bible, the word of God’s, has over 2300 verses on money and possessions, and 16 out of 38 parables that Jesus taught are about this topic, so pastors should never run out of things to say on this topic.
I have found that most people whom I’ve counseled in this area of stewardship and generosity have a desire to give. What they lack is the ability to give. Seventy-eight percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and 60 percent have less than $1000 saved to get through an emergency. No wonder they are not giving! Most of your members have not been taught to manage their money. Most are living beyond their means and don’t know how to get ahead. Teach them to manage their finances God’s way and giving will not be a problem.
I see this as an excellent opportunity to serve your members. By teaching them how to manage their finances, you are freeing them up in more ways than you can imagine. Because financial stress and anxiety cause so many other problems, helping them overcome in this area will have a positive impact in many areas of their lives. And there are many great resources specifically designed for churches that you can use. Dave Ramsey, Compass-finances God’s way, Good Sense Movement, are just a few of the organizations that exist with the sole purpose of providing you with resources to help you educate your members.
CSN’s mission is to encourage, teach, and connect church and stewardship leaders in the local church. If you want to know more about starting a stewardship ministry in your church, let us know. We’d love to help!