stewardship-perspectivesAdvice is sometimes like eating at different restaurants. Even though the food is good at one, doesn’t mean it’s not good at another. It’s better to seek variety. The same is true of advice.

When it comes to advice from professional consultants; not everyone has the same perspective, content, or message to share. Each professional has their own blend of training, experience and perspective that together create a unique viewpoint on how to achieve success. For this reason, we are continuing our series of roundtable discussions with another perspective on how to conduct a successful stewardship campaign for your church building project.

Introducing Mark Brooks

Our consultant for this two-part roundtable discussion is Mark Brooks, Founding Partner and President of The Charis Group. After 20 years of pastoral experience in both large and small churches, Mr. Brooks worked for another stewardship organization before launching The Charis Group. This breadth of experience, on both sides of the stewardship campaign process, gives him a powerful perspective for offering advice to church leaders who are seeking to fund their own church building or renovation projects. The Charis Group specializes in tailoring stewardship campaigns to the individual needs of specific churches and their situations.

Two Paradigm Shifts in the “New Normal” Stewardship Campaign

Mr. Brooks believes that there are two major changes in giving patterns since the “great recession” began in 2008. The first is a trend toward more conservative pledging. Church members, naturally, want to make sure that they can fulfill their commitment to the church. With an economy that is still in the recovery process, people are less certain that they will be able to fulfill their pledges, and thus they are making more conservative commitments.

The second trend is that there is a larger percentage of church members who are unwilling to sign a pledge card at all. Often these people have been directly impacted by the recession, and they are not sure they will have a job for the entire period covered by the pledge drive. Usually they will give single gifts to the campaign, or periodic gifts as they are able. However, they are unwilling to make a pledge commitment of any kind to avoid making promises they might not fulfil.

Some Generational Church Building Pledge Trends

There is always a difference in what each generation is willing and able to commit to a stewardship campaign, and Mr. Brooks is seeing these differences become more pronounced in the current recession. Senior adults are all but absent from pledge drives these days, and if they give at all, they are giving little because of concerns that they will outlive their money. This is a major issue for church building campaigns, because older adults used to be the main drivers of such campaigns.

Millennials, on the other hand, are driven by a need for information, asking lots of questions and wanting to verify that their funds will be used appropriately, and that the money is truly needed. They are also less likely to make a long-term pledge commitment because they feel less secure about the future than older generations.

Stay Tuned for Part II

The result of these trends is a marked decrease in pledge totals. How then should a church approach the stewardship campaign? Stay tuned for our next post, where Mr. Brooks will share his wisdom on this question. To stay connected with this and other current church building and remodeling issues, look for our 2015 i3 webinar schedule coming in December.