Are Your Leaders to Blame for Poor Giving in Your Church?

Kristine Miller

Has your giving declined despite your best efforts? Are you frustrated by the inability of your church stewardship leaders to put together a strong annual giving program? The problem could be you have recruited the wrong people for the job. Here’s what to do.


Often, church stewardship leaders are selected by default rather than by intention.

Many stewardship committee chairs were selected when (or perhaps because) they were not in attendance during the selection process. Have you ever considered what this says about your leadership prospects in this area? If you have a “just get a warm body” approach, you will always struggle with ineffectual leaders and poor giving.


How to recruit good church stewardship leaders.

What does it require to identify and recruit effective church stewardship leaders? I recommend a three-step process:

1) Identify good stewards.

Find people in your church who are not only regular givers, but who seem to have a healthy understanding of gratitude and generosity.

In our book Bounty: Ten Ways to Increase Giving to Your Church, co-author Scott McKenzie and I stress the importance of recruiting the right people for your stewardship team. Recruits should be expected to give generously to the church. If you want to encourage generosity, you should recruit generosity experts–those who give substantially relative to their means. Your largest givers may not be your most generous givers. Recruit people who give cheerfully, generously, and sacrificially.

2) Pitch your passion about the need.

Convey the importance of the job of a church stewardship leader. Help them to see that they’re not just plugging a hole on a committee but are helping guide and shepherd the future of the congregation.

Before accepting their roles, enlistees should understand the importance of their assignment. The objective of your stewardship team is to encourage a culture of generosity that will transform your people and your ministry. The job of your stewardship team is to help people experience the joy of generosity. Their role is to inspire people to practice the kind of generosity shown to us by God. The task is not an easy one, but it is possible with the right people on board.

3) Make a personal invitation to serve.

Don’t just assume they will pick up your vibes. Specifically, ask them to serve and open up a conversation about the requirements of service.

Enlisting the right people requires a personal invitation to serve. Often churches enlist leaders through notices in the bulletins or newsletters. People who respond to bulletin or newsletter requests (if you get anyone to respond at all) are usually not the most capable.  However, they are likely to be the most available. The result–ineffective leaders.

In last week’s blog, Herb Buwalda suggests church pastors and staff should spend time considering leadership candidates and then recruit people personally. To recruit effective leaders, you need to invest time and energy to define leadership roles and identify the most capable people. The pastor and staff should then meet with recruits to share expectations, describe how each candidate is uniquely qualified to fill the role, and express their support.


Church leaders should have a clear understanding of the discipleship path in your church.

Giving generously should be a part of the journey.

Stewardship leaders should view generosity as foundational to their discipleship journey. In his article, Developing an Intentional Discipleship System, author Junius Dotson suggests a disciple “worships, is part of a community, commits to spiritual practices, is generous and serves, and is seeking to be Christlike.” After all,  how will the church know if it is accomplishing its mission to “go forth and make disciples” without a clear understanding of how to be a disciple?

Dotson furthers suggests mature disciples demonstrate generosity and service. “They tithe and give beyond a tithe as God leads and restructures their lives and resources to join Jesus in service to others.” Be sure you are recruiting committed leaders who are walking on the discipleship path.

If giving is declining or stagnant, now is the time to rethink who and how you will recruit your church stewardship leaders.

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