Discipleship involves helping people take steps towards Jesus. This includes helping them take steps financially. If you want to lead a financially healthy church, then you need an intentional strategy for turning tippers into givers, and turning givers into tithers.
If you’re like most pastors, there’s a part of this that sounds uncomfortable. Perhaps you have concerns because you don’t want to treat people differently based on what they have or what they can do for your church.
That tension is a good thing.
It means that your motives are in the right place. It means that you don’t want to take advantage of people and use them to fund your dreams. It means that you care about pastoring people more than you care about taking their money. Keeping your motives in check is important. It’s something you must continually address. You have to guard your heart, especially when it comes to developing high-potential givers.
You have three options when it comes to big givers:
- Ignore them. A lot of pastors do this because they’re afraid to treat people differently based on their financial position. They don’t want a church where favoritism is shown and people with more wealth are given better opportunities. Some pastors, in fact, choose to not know what people give so they don’t think of them in a different light.
All of that is based on the right motivation. And while it’s admirable and acceptable, it may not always be wise. More about that in a minute.
- Use them. The flipside of ignoring people is using them. Some people who maximize high-capacity givers only develop relationships with them because of their money. It’s a means to an end.
If you had to choose one of the top two options, it’s better to ignore them than use them. High-capacity givers are human beings, not pieces of paper. Using people to accomplish your own purpose is never a good thing. It’s not honorable, no matter how much you justify it. Leverage without love is just abuse.
- Develop them. This is the option we like best. Just like you’d develop someone with the gift of leadership. Just like you’d help a young person cultivate his or her talent. Just like you’d provide opportunities for volunteers who are good with children or teenagers, you have the same ability to nurture someone who has the capacity to give generously.
Developing people is about relationships. Your mission should be to add value to their lives. It’s an issue of discipleship—helping them follow Jesus with their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Developing high-capacity givers is also a stewardship issue. As a leader, you’ve been entrusted with a group of people to pastor. You’ve been called to shepherd a flock. Developing individuals is a big part of that—engaging their talents, gifts, passions, and personality. That is spiritual leadership.
Just like you’d create a specific path for someone who wanted to learn about Jesus, get baptized, join a Bible study, or become a member, you should have a specific plan for developing high-capacity donors.
Let’s take a deeper look at high-capacity givers in your church. Remember, these are people who need shepherding. When you understand a little more about what makes them tick, you’ll be in a better position to pastor them.
- High-capacity givers are often lonely. Having money isn’t the same as having friends. Some of the loneliest people in the world have a lot of money. Surely you’ve heard the famous song “Can’t buy me love.” Or maybe you saw the 1987 movie with Patrick Dempsey. Well it’s true. Just because someone holds a lot of financial responsibility doesn’t mean they have a lot of relational success. As a pastor, you have the opportunity to be a friend, which is something these people desperately need.
- High-capacity givers are often feel used for their money. Remember the story of The Prodigal Son? When he received his inheritance and ran away, he was suddenly surrounded by a new group of “friends.” But when the money ran out, his friends did, too. People with money often feel appreciated solely because of what they can do or buy. They feel used because they usually are used.
As a pastor, you have the opportunity to love people for who they are, not what they have. You can tell these people that they’re worth something because of who they are in Christ, not because of what they have in the bank.
- High-capacity givers don’t trust people easily. Because people with money often feel like means to an end, they’re naturally suspicious. When they meet people, they wonder about their motives. They often put up walls and remain guarded. This same lack of trust is extended to the church, which is why so many wealthy people are skeptical of organized religion. In the same way that friends and family members have sought their money, so has the church. And often, not trusting the church equals not trusting God.
Developing donors isn’t a sin. In fact, it’s a form of discipleship. It’s often the thing that helps churches—and wealthy individuals—go to the next level.
We have an entire, step-by-step system called Giving Rocket that helps you develop givers and your church budget.