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Stewardship Summit: ‘Most younger people don’t even have a checkbook’

Stewardship Summit coaches share on electronic-giving focus of April UMCSC event

By Jessica Brodie

SUMMERVILLE—If two of the nation’s leading church coaches have it their way, church finance committees would wake up, face what’s happening in today’s culture and take steps to align their stewardship campaigns with the way most people give. (Hint: it’s not with a checkbook.)

Jim and Kim Griffith, of Griffith Coaching, will lead a daylong Stewardship Summit titled “Growing Generous Givers” April 21, 2018. The summit is hosted by the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Held at Bethany UMC, Summerville, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the summit will address what the Griffiths call the “nuts and bolts,” or the mechanics, of stewardship—and particularly electronic giving. The Griffiths will cover everything from text-giving to a Paypal button on the website to auto pay from a checking account.

“We’re not going to sit there and pound the table on ‘people should give’ or pound a philosophy that stewardship is God’s standard. We just haven’t found that to be a productive thing,” Jim Griffith said. “We find that often the church finance committee sits around saying, ‘These young people are not committed to the church [because they don’t give].’ And we ask, ‘Do you have electronic giving?’ and get ‘No, we don’t do that here.’ Well, most younger people don’t even have a checkbook.”

He said most churches are designed for people still writing checks and not set up for electronic giving; they think they are, but they are not.

“We still have churches debating whether electronic giving is OK,” Griffith said.

The summit is designed for the church finance team to be there with the pastor; it does no good for the pastors to come by themselves, Griffith said. The informative day will help church finance teams move in a direction that helps them grow.

“We’re all about the local church—it really is the hope of the world from our perspective, and the healthier the local church is, the better the community,” Griffith said. “One of the clear markers of a healthy church is the breadth of participation in financial giving in a church—not just ‘is it paying its bills’ but the breadth. If only 15 percent of members are carrying the church financially … that’s not a very good marker.”

Another way to title the summit could be “How To Turn Tippers into Tithers,” Griffith said.

“It wakes them up,” he said.

Beth Westbury, conference treasurer and director of administrative services, said that being a disciple does not mean resting at status quo, noting we all must grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ in all areas—including stewardship.

“The Stewardship Summit is designed to help church leaders gain knowledge in the area of stewardship so they can go back to their local church better equipped to lead their congregation,” Westbury said. “Others may want to attend for their own personal growth just like we go to Bible studies to grow in our faith.”

She noted the Griffiths have a reputation for being energetic and entertaining, and she is looking forward to the event.

The Rev. Chris Lollis, chair of the conference Council on Finance and Administration, said attending this conference will help local churches, pastors and laity either start stewardship campaigns or enhance or improve upon what they are currently doing.

“I have talked with other pastors/churches and have heard accounts of how they struggle how to effectively handle stewardship. Some don’t even know where to begin,” Lollis said. “I am personally looking forward to the Stewardship Summit because I want to learn new and fresh ways to address stewardship at (the church I pastor), Trinity UMC, Darlington.”

Registration for the summit opens Nov. 1 at www.umcsc.org; the $10 fee includes lunch.

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