By Michael C. Mack
A 2015 research study revealed that small group participants gave an average of $1,886 more per year to their churches than those not in groups. As a small groups guy, that statistic makes me smile.
You’re probably not shocked by this finding. It makes sense that the more connected and involved people are in the life of the church, the more buy in they will have to the church’s vision and the more they will tend to give.
But I think there’s more to it. LD Campbell, who was senior minister of First Church, Burlington, Kentucky, for more than 38 years, was discussing a lack of generosity and giving with a group of leaders at the church when he said something that has stuck with those leaders for years. He said, “We have dropped the ball when it comes to discipleship.”
Stewardship is inextricably tied to discipleship. Growing Christ followers learn to surrender more and more of their lives, including their money. They learn to love Jesus more in every aspect of their lives, including their finances. If giving isn’t what it should be at your church, consider how you can better disciple the people under your care.
Now, don’t run out and start a campaign to get everyone involved in small groups as a fund-raising solution. Small groups are not the answer. They are simply an environment where disciples are made; the soil in which people grow, bear fruit, and reproduce themselves. But the study does make me wonder: What if the best stewardship campaign, especially over the long-term, involved intentionally discipling people in a fertile environment where they connect, learn, develop their gifts, serve, share leadership, and are naturally held accountable for spiritual disciplines such as personal Bible study, prayer, rest, and giving?
For January, we’ve selected wise leaders from our movement to provide sound biblical teaching on a variety of personal, family, and church financial issues. They provide relevant ideas and tools you can use for fund-raising, planning, managing cash flow, and assessing healthy church finances.
These articles aren’t just about raising more funds for ministry, however. It isn’t really about buildings, budgets, or benefits. It’s a practical stewardship guide for carrying out your mission as a disciple-making church. Don’t drop the ball!