There are many types of leaders in churches. Some are volunteer leaders, some paid; some are leaders by position, some by influence. There are also financial leaders, and they need a connection to you as much as any other group of leaders in the church.
Many of us are uncomfortable talking about money, especially with those who we perceive have a lot of it. It feels unfamiliar and awkward to imagine having deep, one-on-one conversations with financial leaders about the specifics of their giving to our church.
As uncomfortable as we may feel, our discomfort does not absolve us from leading, shepherding, and discipling people entrusted with large amounts of financial resources. In 1 Timothy 6:17–19, the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy very clearly on his responsibility to disciple those who are rich in this present world. There is a prevailing idea in our culture that people with money don’t have any problems. This thinking causes some church leaders to assume they can leave these individuals alone and focus on the poor, homeless, and destitute. That simply isn’t true. Everyone in your church, including financial leaders, need you to disciple and lead them.
Seven Most Common Questions
Here are the seven most common questions we receive surrounding financial leader ministry:
1. Who are financial leaders?
Financial leaders are those households that account for 40–50 percent of your church’s ministry funding. What tends to surprise church leaders is this group is normally less than 10 percent of active households.
2. Why focus on financial leader engagement?
To cultivate meaningful relationships with this critical leadership segment that invite them into a deeper spiritual journey and a closer connection with the ministries of the church.
3. Do most financial leaders have high giving capacity?
Not necessarily. Except in the largest churches, the majority of households that give 10 percent of their income or more will be among financial leaders, regardless of their financial capacity.
4. Should high-capacity donors who are not financial leaders be identified and engaged as well?
Yes. At Horizons, we identify high-capacity donors as any household that gives to your church and is in the upper 10 percent of U.S. wage earners ($118,400+) or who have accumulated wealth of $1 million or more. High-capacity donors have distinctly different giving patterns than other donor groups, and your church’s engagement strategy needs to take these differences into account.
5. Is it OK for me to minister directly to high-capacity donors?
Yes! Sadly, high-capacity donors are among the most poorly cultivated groups in the church. It is not uncommon for the majority of high-capacity donors to be missing from the list of financial leaders. Due largely to a lack of appropriate cultivation, high-capacity donors are increasingly shifting their dollars away from local churches to other nonprofits. Churches with high-capacity donors should have both an identification and engagement strategy.
6. Are wealthy households or financial leaders deserving of better treatment or more control of the church?
Absolutely not. Scripture is very critical of favoritism based on wealth (James 2:3). Jesus lifts up the story of the widow’s mite as an example of sacrificial generosity to challenge any notion that God is measuring generosity by the total amount given (Mark 12:41–44, Luke 21:1–4). Many financial leaders are not high-capacity donors, just faithful givers of 10 percent or more of their income.
7. Should we consider adding a ministry leader engagement strategy?
Yes! Ministry leaders share many of the same characteristics as your financial leaders, and you are equally dependent on this small group to make your ministries possible. In most churches, there is a great deal of overlap between ministry leaders and financial leaders.
If you would like coaching on developing a financial leader ministry, Horizons offers International Coaching Federation Trained Ministry Strategists who can guide your church or faith-based nonprofit.