Church Giving – The 55/45 Rule

Leadership Network recently published an insightful article by Chris Willard and Warren Bird focused on giving metrics in the context of congregational ministry.  This piece mentions something I think should be called the 55/45 rule. This rule comes from research conducted by David Thoroughman, CEO of the donor analytics firm MortarStone.  Thoroughman found that, on average, 99% of a congregation's funding comes from giving units that give $200 or more a year but only 55% of all attendees Read More …

Sermon: Responsible Earthkeeping

Sermon Text: Genesis 1:26 Sermon Excerpt Dominion is one of those words that makes me cringe. I cannot hear the word in any context without having some kind of reaction.  There are many reasons for it, including a very troubling experience with a rather unconventional church. This church practiced Dominion Theology and took this task so seriously that it shaped every aspect of their identity.  They understood that it was their role – along with other churches that held Dominionist views Read More …

Sermon: Going All In

Sermon Text: Mark 12:41-44 Sermon Excerpt I think it is about time we return to the little stewardship booklet I mentioned earlier so that I can ask a second quiz question. This one allows you to play the role of subject matter expert. A new church member wants to know how much he or she should give to the church. You say: “That’s a very important decision. So important that I could not possibly advise you on it.” “Pick a number—any number.” “What I do is take a percentage of my Read More …

Sermon: A Community of Risk Takers

Sermon Text: I Corinthians 12:1, 4-12, 25-27 (The Message) Sermon Excerpt: Thank you.  Thanks Jim, Barb, and David.  I appreciate not only that you said “yes” when presented an opportunity to speak, but also the many ways you have given generously of your time and talent. Together we are inviting you to join with us for the year ahead by committing to risk-taking mission and service.  This is one of the five practices of fruitful congregations.  The author of the book that has helped Read More …

Going Trash Free

Justin Vrany has operated his restaurant - Sandwich Me In (Chicago, IL) - for the last two years without creating any trash.  More specifically while the average restaurant produces 8 gallons of waste an hour, he produced that amount over two years but then watched it disappear when an artist fashioned it into a sculpture. So What? Every congregation I have ever served has encouraged members to live more green lifestyles.  Ideally, congregations not only educate about this aspect of Read More …

Sermon: All In

Sermon Text: Mark 12:41-44 Sermon Excerpt Presbyterian minister Scott Hauser recently shared a list of things that many American Christians often love more than God.  His list includes items many may dismiss, but perhaps should not: football, beauty, and technology.  It also contains items that some may be more willing to admit often become like gods – at least for a season: the American way, attention, and safety.  Whether or not your complete list would look similar to Hauser’s, I think Read More …

Sermon: A United Church

Sermon Text: I Corinthians 12:1, 4-12, 25-27 (The Message) Sermon Excerpt: Our culture teaches us the importance of starting well each New Year.  People tend to take New Year’s resolutions very seriously – at first. If you need confirmation, simply visit the gym of your choice sometime this month. Those crowded gyms never last long.  While most resolutions are truly good ideas, often our motivation is inadequate to sustain our efforts. One study found that after just one week, only Read More …

Sermon: How Much is Enough?

Sermon Text - Luke 12:13-21 Sermon Excerpt I don't know much about barns, but I do know a bit about real estate.  In all honesty, houses have always fascinated me. All you have to do is to start using real estate terms like location, layout, view, amenities, finishes, and cost per square foot and I will gladly join your conversation. So, it is my pleasure to be your guide as we (read the full manuscript) So What? While few people who seek to follow the way of Jesus are consumed by Read More …

A Growing World

Global population passed the 7 billion mark recently (either last year or this year, depending on who is counting), and continues to grow.  While reaching the 7 billion mark generated significant conversation, it seems to be forgotten by most now as other national and global issues prove more pressing or of greater personal interest.  Nonetheless, it remains important for people of faith to be aware not only of our current population, but of just how recent a development the population explosion Read More …

Less Generous Than We Think

According to the Science of Generosity Survey, self-reported data about how much people give to religious causes is significantly inflated.  While roughly 25% stated they tithed (gave 10% of their income) to charity, actual giving records revealed that just 3% gave 5% or more to charity.  And, not only do people have exceedingly favorable self-impressions, many are anything but generous: only 57% of respondents claim they gave more than $25 in the past year to charity. So What? It has long Read More …