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Pastors & Fundraising

by Tim Isbell   (October 2011)

Recently I read an excellent book about the pastor's role in fund-raising and church finances: Not Your Parents' Offering Plate, A New Vision for Financial Stewardship by J. Clif Christopher. It is a very readable, practical book that I recommend to lead-pastors, and also to layperson(s) who manage church money (such as Treasurers or Finance Committee members).

It recommends many "best practices" for churches, informed by the author's equally deep understanding of the common practices of fund-raising and donor relations in the broader world of non-profits.

For example, the book reminds us of why people give money to charitable purposes, and how this influences our week-to-week activities:

  1. People give to mission.

  2. People give in regard for staff leadership.

  3. People give when they have confidence in the financial responsibility of the organization. 

Christopher also addresses the philosophy in some churches where the church and/or the pastor believe the pastor should not know the individual giving data. For these situations, this book especially is a must read! Here's a pertinent quote: "For some reason [some churches or pastors] feel that this separation makes the pastor more holy. What it does is make him or her far less effective and tends to make money a bigger issue in the church than ministry." Christopher goes on to provide several reasons for his position, as well as to provide a lot of very helpful advice to pastors in their relation to the finances of the church. In my experience with fund-raising in local churches, Christopher is right on target.

It's a quick/easy read, and well worth the investment.