Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giving—It’s What We Do

Approximately 600 participants from the Wisconsin Annual Conference, including 150 pastors and 450 lay people, responded to a giving survey developed by the Generosity Task Force. The Generosity Task Force was formed at the invitation of Bishop Linda Lee to support and promote the theme of Extravagant Generosity, and to explore ways that local congregations might be better resourced and served in the area of financial stewardship.

To summarize the results of the survey in a single sentence: “It is extremely important that Christians give generously as an expression of gratitude and joy for all we have received from God.” Giving is not an option; it isn’t simply something we do, it is an expression of who we are.

Two primary forces motivate the giving of Wisconsin United Methodists: joy and duty. Forty-six percent of the respondents identified “responsibility, discipline, or obligation” as the primary reason for their giving, while forty-four percent named “joy, generosity, or desire to share with others” as their top reasons. For those responding to the survey, supporting the ministry of their local church and sharing responsibility for the church’s ministry were the most important motivations to making a financial commitment to the church.

A majority of people identified “hearing sound preaching and teaching on giving in their church” as important (37.5%) or extremely important (28.6%), though a number of people lament that money and giving is not talked about much in their local congregation. Seventy-four percent of those responding say that giving is important or extremely important as a means of growing in the Christian faith. It is evident that people believe that faith and giving are in a dynamic relationship—some people give more as they grow in their faith, while others learn to grow through giving more.

Eighty-seven percent feel that the local church is the most important place to give— and that the majority of their gifts should support the ministry of the local church. Only about half (51%) feel that supporting Conference ministries is as important as supporting local church ministries.

Nine-out-of-ten givers want to know that their giving is making a difference. If a person gives a dollar, they are very interested in exactly how that dollar is used and what value that dollar produces. In both local churches and Annual Conferences, where it is unclear how money is being spent and what the money actually pays for, givers are less motivated to give. The better job we do showing people how their gifts serve God and touch lives, the more motivated people are to give.

Clergy responses were slightly higher in all categories—giving, whether from a sense of obligation or joy, is essential to our  development as Christian disciples. Supporting the work of the local congregation is extremely important, but so is supporting the work of the larger church. On average, “important” and “extremely important” responses were approximately 7% higher from clergy.

For all people in the survey, giving to help others, giving to bring comfort and aid, and giving  that improves lives are the most important kinds of giving. We love to support our missions, and to do all the good we can through the financial gifts we have to share. 

--By Dan Dick, WI AC

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

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