It only takes 10 givers to fund a church

People don’t like to talk money and the church. It makes people instantly think of TV evangelists.

And while those TV evangelists swindled millions out of well-meaning, hard-working Americans, the truth is that 99% of churches are great places and not full of crooks.

I have an encouragement for my friends just entering their 30s, you’re finally hitting the earning power to make a difference in your church.

Here’s something that may be news to you: It only takes about 10 solid givers for a small-to-medium-sized church to stay solvent.

Working for a small church this was clear. 6-7 core “giving units” provided a solid foundation of giving on which our monthly budget was built. We didn’t really know who they were but we were thankful for their faithfulness. But the $200-$500 a week they each gave weekly was the difference between the staff having a heart attack about the budget and knowing we’d at least make payroll! And, of course, people beyond that core group gave substantially too which made all the difference in the world for doing more than making payroll. Yet the fact remained that without those 6-7 anonymous folks we would have been in deep trouble.

Now, I’m sure $200-$500 per week seems unattainable. You’re saying that’s a lot of money! In some parts of the country $800/month is more than the mortgage. So you’ll have to do the math to figure out what that translates to in your local economy.

But here’s the point: These weren’t a special breed of super-givers. These were regular Joe’s and Mary’s. The median family income in that part of Michigan was about $60,000. That meant the median family brought home about $800/week after taxes. ($80/week if they tithed) Yet most of the folks in our church had professional jobs which paid much, more than that. All of a sudden you realize… the 6-7 families funding a big chunk of the church are really just average professionals tithing about 10% of what they brought home.

That’s where you come in. If just 5% of the church actually tithed, your church could stay solvent. I don’t mean they’d be in great shape. I just mean that 5-10 solid givers per hundred forms the foundation of giving for your church.

And if you are wise with your money you can be one of them soon.

Again, that may seem impossible. But if you got serious for the next 6-12 months on reducing your debt load you will be able to give a lot more. And while most people in their early-mid thirties are just starting to dig their way out of mountains of credit card debt, college loans, car loans, and the fat part of a mortgage… as they do that they are discovering they can have a lot more giving power.

It only takes 10 givers to fund a church. The question is simply– Do you want to be one of them?





7 responses to “It only takes 10 givers to fund a church”

  1. Deek Dubberly Avatar

    Excellent post…and I read a LOT of posts. I really appreciate you writing about this issue. You see a great deal of topics out there in the blogosphere, but not so much this one — giving faithfully and regularly to the church. Such an encouragement to my day. Thanks.

  2. Dennis Avatar

    Thanks for putting this little perspective on the local church.

    In our case as missionaries, it’s the same. If we have good solid consistent donors, we are fine. Although, we know missionaries who have to visit 400 churches when they go back to the USA so they can connect with everyone who supports them.

  3. Johnny Carson Avatar
    Johnny Carson

    “That meant the median family brought home about $800/week after taxes. ($80/week if they tithed)” Are you advocating rendering unto Caesar, then unto God? I honestly thought you, Adam, would challenge that assumption and raise the bar higher with the giving of our firstfruits.

  4. adam mclane Avatar

    Considering the average church goer gives 2-3%…

    I prefer not to get hung up on a number. I personally just think the number should be substantial. $5-10 a week for someone who makes $1000… yeah, that’s not substantial. 🙂

  5. Johnny Carson Avatar
    Johnny Carson

    I know we can’t get hung up on a number, but wouldn’t you agree with the concept? I suspect people are appeasing their consciences by saying they give 10% of their income, but they’ve re-defined income to meaning the money they have left in their pocket after paying taxes and their mortgage.

    Here’s a twist and I’m curious about your opinion. I aim to give 12-15% of my unadjusted gross income. But only half of that goes to my church, with the rest to various ministries or missionaries. So on paper, I’m a 6ish% giver to my church. Could this be the case with the avg church goer giving 2-3%? Is it possible that people are giving substantially more than what they give to their local church?

  6. adam mclane Avatar

    I think the 2-3% giving thing was to all sources, not just to a church. I’m not an expert on that though. I’m positive there’s research on that.

    Well– each is responsible for his own conscience, right? In our house we aim for 10% for our church and then give to various things over that. Tackling the debt in our life has been the keystone to making that happen, though.

    We’ve done it both ways. Earlier we split our giving between missionaries and our home church. When I worked on staff… I was all over the place. Sometimes we gave to missions, sometimes to our church, it just varied.

    My only thought would be… If you aren’t giving to your church as the primary place of giving… something tells me you might not be 100% on board with how they are handling the offerings. But that’s just me.

  7. Tim Avatar

    @Johnny Carson (and everyone, too): Isn’t it funny that the tithe is the only thing we want to be legalistic about? And we do it two ways. 1) We want to point the finger and make sure everyone is doing his/her share, and 2) we let ourselves feel justified when we give our 10%. The New Testament standard of giving is a lavish gift to Christ (c.f. Acts 2-6, Heb. 7). But we tend to dwindle it down to a static formula (i.e. this discussion on pre/post-tax). For sure, any form of worship is intended to be much more dynamic than a boring formula. (And I majored in math in college!)

    Great post, Adam.

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