Coming Crisis in Church Contributions
I’ve read some statistics and commonalities of different generations related to work and giving in the past few years that have led me to consider how we may need to change in churches to keep up with cultural changes in giving, both of time and finances. The boomer generation is known for taking pride in their achievement. They don’t necessarily live to work but do find great value in what that work accomplishes in wealth, possessions, and position. Many will work until they simply cannot any longer or at least until they can have very comfortable, even indulgent retirements. That’s a heavy generalization, but a summary of things I’ve read. Gen X will work hard, but they work to live more than live to work. Achievement is important but enjoying life is more valuable. I anticipate many in this generation will retire earlier than the previous generation if able so they can enjoy more of life unhindered by time constraints of work. They’ll need to invest well and earn earlier to accomplish this. I think we may see many from Generation X retiring not long after many boomers. Millennials want their work to matter. They aren’t as driven by financial achievement so much as believing that what they do matters. Yet they are also materially indulgent as other generations. This desire to be involved in important things impacts their giving, too. They tend to want to give to a cause or specific thing they believe in rather than an organization in general. Boomers will give larger amounts over more time. If Gen X retires not long after boomers, giving may decline significantly as incomes are lowered for two generations. Millennials may not earn as much across the board and are less likely to give to a general church budget or mission program than they are a specific need or missionary they know. They are, however, more likely to get involved in outreach ministry in the community whereas previous generations seem more likely to serve in their local church programs. The move from inside the church to outside appears to be increasing from generation to generation right now. So, we may have many people willing to serve in ad-hoc ministry events and trips in the community or even more regular opportunities like that, we’re likely to have less people ready to serve in volunteer ministry roles within the church building walls and less income to cover it all. So, how do we address this in the local church? Do we handle giving differently? Will we need to cut internal programming and staffing to be more efficient and outreach focused? Those aren’t all bad things, but they are things we need to prepare for and consider ahead of time.
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