God bless the individuals who have made this commitment and practiced it so much that it has become an unconscious act of compassion. There are many such individuals in our churches on Sundays. The challenge is, we as churches, in our discomfort to talk about money, and our lack of asking, have not encouraged members like these to prayerfully re-consider their giving regularly, and certainly not annually. The question that is being raised in many churches these days is, can the Church afford its members giving the same year after year?
The answer, of course, is no! We know the answer. We have struggled with the reality of it for years. We all realize that we are losing more contributing members than we are gaining. We know that newer members tend to give less than long time church members.* But have we considered the ever changing spending power of our regular contributions? Have we thought about how inflation is having a major effect on our ability to do ministry?
When I was a teenager I would marvel at how much you could buy for a dollar years ago. Mom and Dad told me that when they were teens they could buy a soft drink, a bar and a bag of chips for a quarter. The two o’clock movie at the theatre was 10 cents! Why, when I was a teen things cost more than double that! Think about today then, how much can you get for a dollar today? Not a lot! The reason -- inflation!
Back to my example above. If this Mom and Dad were giving $20 a week say thirty years ago, they were giving a significant amount! Today, not so much. Over the last thirty years inflation has risen by an average of 2.5% per year. So to buy what $20 could then, you would have to give $41.31.** More than double! Ok thirty years is a lot. Let’s not be so extreme. Let’s just see what the change in $20 is over ten years? The answer is $23.96. True, that is not as dramatic, but the same result is produced – a decline in spending power. A Congregation with a budget of 100,000 will need, just to keep everything the same, $102,500 next year ... and $105,062.50 the following year.
So what is the answer? How do we get folks to consider this fact? I think we need to talk about it … and the best way to do that is to do some Stewardship Education in our churches. This is best practiced, in my opinion, with an Annual, or even Semi-Annual Stewardship Campaign.*** Give your members an opportunity to prayerfully reconsider their present level of giving? Is it possible they might be able to increase their giving? The truth is many of us in the church may not have thought a lot about it. We have become creatures of habit, contributing about the same as we did last year … and the year before. But friends, at some point that may need to change. Best to start now.
*Research indicates that it takes 8 new church members to match the giving of 1 long-time church member
** See Bank of Canada Calculator: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/related/inflation-calculator/
*** Check out some of the resources I have posted on my Congregational Stewardship Tab, under Stewardship above.