What is Your Over/Under Split?

What is Your Over/Under Split?

“I took your advice and broke down our donors by age and discovered that 84% of our donors are 50 in age and above!” That was the start of an email from a Business Administrator in an SBC church in the Southeast. He then attached a pie chart of their church’s giving by age, seen above.

84% of the church’s dollars come from those 50 in age and above. This group gives $1.3 million of the $1.5 million budget. The under-50 crowd only gives 16% of the budget, yet they comprise 60% plus of the church’s attendance! In living color, this staff member showed the giving crisis looming for his church.

Do you have a similar crisis? If you are the typical SBC church, the answer is yes. Our present reality is that we have a larger percentage over fifty than we do under fifty. While we have been blessed with generous donors, most are nearing or well into retirement. A looming crisis for Southern Baptists is our aging donor base.

The Over/Under Split – One of the things we immediately do when we analyze a church’s giving is ask how many donors are above 50 and how many are below 50. We call this the Over/Under Split. Most churches we review have similar percentage splits as the church above. Our data reveals what numerous studies are showing. Younger generations are not giving the same percentage or amount as their parents and grandparents.

What’s the solution? Spotting the problem is one thing. Solving it is another. Yet, solve this problem we must if we want to set up the next generations for success.

First, be Aware! If I were a leader in my church reading this, I would immediately want my own pie chart of my church giving by age. I would want it in color just like this one. The results might scare you, but you can’t reverse a trend if you don’t know what the trend is.

Next, you must Act! Listen, the longer you put off doing something, anything, the greater your giving crisis will be. Working from behind is always harder, and much more difficult to catch up. You might be fine now but do the math. Every church is facing what I call The Great American Giving Shift. The sooner we realize this and act, the better our chances of fully funding our churches.

What actions can you take to reverse this? Here are some thoughts …

We must realize that generosity is not caught; it is taught. Yet many pastors act as if their members will eventually “get it.” I was one of those pastors early on in my career. I seldom, if ever, preached on giving. When I realized that Jesus taught more about finances than any other subject, I realized I needed to change.

In my twenty-plus years as a generosity strategist, I found three primary keys to a fully funded church.

Churches that are fully funded have Senior Pastors who put a healthy focus on generosity! That is the first key. If the Senior Pastor doesn’t prioritize generosity, no one else in the church will either. The disconnected pastor, a pastor who doesn’t teach biblical stewardship, is one of the top stewardship mistakes a church can make. It is also one of the easiest to correct. Don’t be the reason your church is not fully funded. Here is the second…

Churches focusing on discipleship are more likely to be fully funded than those churches where discipleship is not a major focus. Churches with some form of discipleship always receive more money than those without. Discipleship is a major reason why. You should yearly have your small groups or Sunday School classes working through some study on Christian stewardship. I also advise pastors to yearly preach a series on stewardship. Then I recommend using the offering time as a key moment to teach biblical stewardship. The bottom line is to make stewardship a part of your discipleship process. Then finally,

Churches that communicate a compelling vision always raise more money than those without a vision. People give to causes that get things done. They don’t give to theory. They give to action and life change. Younger generations, especially, give not out of allegiance but to causes that make an impact. Our cause is the greatest in the world and reaches into eternity! Tell and show the story of how your church and our denomination are making an eternal difference, and you will find generous gifts coming from all ages.

Have you done the math? Do you know what percentage is given by those above 50 years of age versus what under 50-year-olds give? We must be aware of this split and work to create a healthier balance. It’s time to get your own pie chart.

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