Cultivating a Spirit of Giving

(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)

Ministries have much to anticipate this time of year: Thanksgiving festivities, Christmas celebrations, and that long-awaited year-end bump in giving. We caught up with Matthew Cork, lead pastor to 4,000 at Yorba Linda Friends Church (YLFC) in Southern California, to ask how his church approaches stewardship and year-end giving.

MBT: How has the subject of giving changed in recent years?

Cork: Growing up, I remember the church "guilting" people into giving. Now, many churches teach stewardship and that there is great freedom in giving according to the principles outlined in the Bible.

MBT: How does your church approach year-end giving?

Cork: People give at year-end no matter what we do. So, our church made a decision to move the end of our fiscal year to June. We send out letters to key contributors asking them to help us end the fiscal year well. Now we see increased income in December and June.

MBT: How does YLFC encourage church members to give?

Cork: Rather than asking for money, we teach the principles of stewardship and trust the Spirit of God to work in their hearts to give. When extra money is needed, we offer a perspective check. We ask: Can you sacrifice three to five dollars a week for the church? For me, that was giving up a latté. The idea is to change their perspective, not to guilt them into giving. A lot of times it’s a little that goes a long way.

MBT: Are you aware of other ways stewardship is taught in churches?

Cork: Many churches, like ours, offer financial education outside of Sunday morning services. Programs like Good $ense and Crown Financial Ministries are brought in to help people learn to biblically handle their money.

MBT: Any advice for other ministries on how they can best prepare for year-end giving?

Cork: If you look at the next generation of giving, people are writing fewer checks and giving electronically. I know of one church that doesn’t even take an offering, they just put out boxes for people to drop in money. Look at how people handle their money and look for ways to engage them where they are at.

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