With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. ”

— MARK 4:33–34 MSG

2020 looks to have been a banner year for charitable giving! According to the second-quarter report of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, charitable giving was up 7.5% from the previous year. Unfortunately, giving to churches fell 4.4% according to a study by Lake Institute. This is not a new trend.

Giving to religion has fallen by 1.7% over the last two recorded years, while eight of the other nine major giving categories grew between 2.7% to 14.4%.  

Why is giving to religion falling while most of the other giving categories are seeing robust growth? I believe it is largely because so many churches fail to share their stories of impact and to ask donors to invest in their ministries in ways that resonate with them. 

Follow the Storyteller’s Example

In his book, A Better Offering: 5 Unmistakable Habits of Generous Churches, Horizons Senior Vice President, Donald Smith, invites church leaders to: “Say Hello to Storytelling.” In other words, to follow the example Jesus set. He goes on to say, “We, the church, have lost the art of storytelling and, in doing so, may have forgotten that the One we claim to follow didn’t speak to people without telling a story.”

Whenever your community gathers for worship, telling actual stories with life-changing impact through your ministry just makes sense. Don offers five reasons why. Sharing stories…

  1. Connects your ministry impact story to financial generosity—those who generously give will gain greater clarity, one story at a time, as to how donor dollars are invested
  2. Provides an opportunity to say thank you—to the people whose contributions have been used by God to impact the life-change you’re celebrating
  3. Inspires and invites people to give—those who gave generously before as well as new donors who feel compelled to give, so life-change can be multiplied
  4. Reminds people of the various ways to give—check, cash, online, recurring, etc.
  5. Provides an opportunity for people to bring the offering—for the work of God and the generosity of God’s people just celebrated

Few people in your ministry are fully aware of the impact of their collective generosity. Follow Jesus’ example and embrace the art of storytelling. It will grow understanding, deepen ownership, inspire additional generosity, and attract new givers.   

If you would like to go deeper into rethinking the offering time, I highly recommend Don Smith's new book, A Better Offering: 5 Unmistakable Habits of Generous Churches.

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