"I used to ride in the backseat of our car on Sunday mornings, and my dad would be driving us to church while my mom had the checkbook on her lap, writing out the weekly tithe. I watched this growing up, and so giving became a part of who I was."
In my role, I have the privilege of speaking with pastors and denominational leaders on a regular basis. I love to sit down with them and ask about the trends they are seeing in their churches and get a feel for the pressing concerns pastors face.
One conversation recently stood out to me. I sat at a Starbucks, across the table from a long-time Nazarene pastor, and I listened as he told me the story of his childhood, watching his mother write out tithe checks as his father drove them to church every single Sunday.
He followed up his story with a scary statistic: The average church-goer attends church only 1.7 times a month now. As a result, the general culture of generosity has been on the decline. There are no longer the same chances for children to witness the generosity habits of their parents.
Another study found that more than one out of four Christians gave no money to their churches each year, not so much as a token $5.
These are concerns that I’ve heard expressed by many church leaders, so the natural question is: What’s the solution?
What if the answer is 60 percent?
At the end of this year’s holiday season, Amazon revealed the startling fact that 60 percent of their holiday shopper activity had come from a mobile device. We then pulled our own data for the same holiday period. An analysis of these transactions revealed that an average of 60 percent of all contributions were given through a mobile device. These numbers are ironically identical. So we decided to draw a conclusion, one we’d like to pose to you today.
What if this 60 percent is somehow tied to a solution for our greater problem, the disappearing culture of generosity? As with any problem, we must get to the root before we can truly find a solution. Let’s go back in history a bit, all the way to 2013…ancient history I know, but bear with me. At the time, Pushpay was a young company, and we wanted to measure how much of an impact a mobile giving app could have on the giving habits of regular church attenders. So, we took an early beta version of our giving app and distributed it to 260 church-goers, prepared to track their giving habits for the next three months.
Our 260 individuals were all given the Pushpay giving app, which had been tied into their home church’s database, and were split into three groups based on their past giving habits:
• Regular Givers: 102 people who currently gave to their churches at least once a month
• Intermittent Givers: 78 people who gave an average of one to two times a quarter
• New Givers: 80 people who never gave
After three months, here’s what we found (Remember, the only thing that had changed for these individuals was they personally had been invited to download a mobile giving app, tied to their home church):
• Regular givers were now giving an average of $49.52 more per month
• Intermittent givers were now giving an average of $76.07 more per month
• Brand new givers were now giving an average of $143.00 more per month
We were blown away!
Our 2013 study indicates generosity still exists in abundance and became activated once a new set of tools was made easily available. What tools can you place in front of your church today? How can you activate the hidden generosity of your congregation?
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