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We believe the church should be the most well-funded organization on earth.

Why Are Pastors Scared to Take an Offering on Easter?

Churches are usually scared to take up an Easter Offering because of the amount of people who will be attending the church for the first time. Pastors tell me that they have a fear of scaring off newcomers.

In every church where a pastor has pressed through this fear and held an Easter Offering anyway, they come back to me and say things like, “That really wasn’t a bad idea.

Asking for money on Easter is a no-brainer because big days produce big results, and you WILL NOT lose the people attending for the first time. Here is why:

Click here to watch a FREE, short video on why you should do an Easter Offering and why it would benefit your church. (Easter is just 7 weeks away – don’t wait!)

1. People aren’t dumb

Do you really think that unchurched people are shocked that you will talk about money? I actually think you have an awesome opportunity to show them that talking about money can be FUNNY and do it in a NO guilt and life-giving way.

2. You can tell them the offering is for them

The reason you are taking an Easter Offering is because you want to provide ministry for people who don’t go to church. If you can show them that you are doing GOOD with the money and loving your community, they will respect that and probably join in.

3. People who rarely come to church like to chip in

They are coming to the church out of some religious guilt, usually. If they participate in the offering, you can follow up with them and show them OVER THE TOP generosity as a church.

In this short coaching video I’ll show you the five essentials every church needs to do an Easter Offering.

Go watch it now.

Two Trips to the ER in 48 Hours

A year ago, I rushed my daughter & son to the Emergency Room less than 48 hours apart. 

To make a long story made short, my daughter has a condition similar to juvenile arthritis but at first, we had no idea.  Her pain was unbearable and I heard phrases like, “Mr. Graham, we are testing for leukemia & bone infections.”  We were awake for 40+ hours.

My daughter is better.  She will have some flare ups but they say it is manageable once we know what is going on. I’m so thankful for medical advances! 

30 something hours after my daughter got home, our 4-month-old son had an allergic reaction that sent us by ambulance to the hospital.  They have no idea what made this happen.  After some medicine and a few hours, they sent us home. 

I learned many life lessons from this crazy experience but I want to share just one with you that might help in this new year.

The ER wears everyone out.

My kids were worn out, my family was worn out, my friends were worn out, my twitter friends were worn out and me & Kacie (my wife) were really worn out.

I felt like God helped me see how most churches live.  Most churches live in the ER of church finances & it is wearing everyone out.  It is okay to visit the ER but not live there.

I promise, if your church is tight financially it is wearing you out, your spouse out, your staff out, and your congregation out.  There is REAL weight with financial stress. 

How To Get Out Of The Church Financial ER

I want to challenge you to quit sitting around and wishing things get better and get help.  I honestly don’t care if you get help with us or someone else, just do it! Make an investment into your church’s financial health today.  

The help you need is a SYSTEM, NOT A SILVER BULLET.  Your church didn’t get into financial trouble overnight, and you’re not going to get healthy in a week.  But if you commit to a system and a strategy, I believe you can see results in 2013.   Over 850 churches are in the Giving Rocket Coaching Program and they’re telling us about their results.

Go sign up for the entire 12-month program for $1188 $799 (33% OFF) by the end of tomorrow with the promo code NEWYEAR. PLUS, you’ll get our 30-day money back guarantee. It’s the lowest price we’ll offer all year.

Don’t live in the ER, I promise it isn’t worth it. 

Here’s what members get EACH MONTH as a part of their Giving Rocket Coaching program.  Everything on this list is included.

There are 12 modules that come with:

  • A coaching video & listening guide
  • An eBook to share with your team
  • Done-for-you content, documents, forms, spreadsheets and graphics
  • Samples from other churches you can preview

JANUARY: How to Have a Financial Strategy

In this first module you will learn:

  • How to build a financial funding plan for the next twelve months
  • How to create clear financial vision for your staff, elders, deacons or financial team
  • How to write out the top three financial objectives for your church & have everyone focused on them

FEBRUARY: Creating a Plan to Get Money

  • You will create an annual funding plan in this module.
  • The Annual Funding Plan: a step-by-step action item list to help you accomplish your financial goals for the year

MARCH: How to Get People to Give

  • You will learn the five reasons people give to a church
  • Discover how to communicate to each type of giver from the stage on the weekend & in written communications

APRIL: The #1 Way to Get More Money for Ministry

  • We have surveyed over 1,000 churches & found out the #1 way to get more people to give to your church.
  • This module alone will pay for your investment in Giving Rocket for years to come.

MAY: Giving Made Easy

  • People give when they have many options to give.
  • We will teach you how to be “giver friendly” by providing simple tools that will attract new types of donors.

JUNE: How to Create Happy Givers

  • This module will give you the best follow up practices for givers to make them happy to give again to your church.
  • We will provide all the templates & written donor communications that you can just copy, paste & send to donors

JULY: How to Attract High Impact Givers

  • We have found that just about every church has a few people that can be high impact givers this next year if you do what we teach you in this module.
  • Learn how to disciple how impact givers without manipulating them to give, it’s a fine line!

AUGUST: Three Sundays That Will Revolutionize Your Bank Account

  • There are three times a year that you can take up a special offering & make it highly impactful for the giver & the church.
  • We will give you a communication packet for each one of these Sundays & the coaching to pull them off.

SEPTEMBER: Help Your Congregation Win Financially

  • This module will give you a personal financial training system for the people in your church.
  • We will teach you how to help people with their spending, debt, savings & giving.

OCTOBER: How to Preach on Money (And Do It Well)

  • This module will teach you the delicate art of preaching on money & preaching well.
  • We will give you well thought out sermon series & messages that will make it easy for you to preach effective.

NOVEMBER: Building the Best Board or Finance Team in Town

  • This module will teach you how to pick the right finance team members and fire the wrong ones
  • You will learn who to recruit to these teams & we promise it isn’t just bankers & accountants

DECEMBER: Church Budgeting Made Simple

  • We will teach you a fool proof way to create margin in your next budget
  • We will help you eliminate complication & know exactly how to budget in a way that your staff will love.

You’ll also receive a free, 3 hour online video where you will learn:

  • How Mountain Lake Church disciples high capacity givers in a healthy way
  • How North Point Community Church raised one million dollars in a day last Christmas
  • How Carey Nieuwhof led a financial culture change and increased giving by 21% in twelve months
  • How Granger survived a 21% unemployment rate and what they learned about tough times
  • How NewSpring Church has taken over 10,000 people through personal financial education and sees increases in giving every year
  • How Revolution Church receives 68% of their giving in digital form
  • How Vanable Moody teaches low-income people to be high impact givers
  • How Cross Point Church effectively engages and leads their finance team and board
  • How New Life Fellowship preaches about money in one of the most diverse zip codes in America
  • How a non-financial pastor stays engaged in the numbers

Interviews include Joel Thomas, Shawn Lovejoy, Jenni Catron, Carey Nieuwhof, Tim Stevens, Joe Sangl, Vanable Moody, Zak White, Rich Villodas, and Scott Hodge.

You get all of this as a member.  And you can save 33% off the membership today if you go HERE and invest in the annual coaching program. It’s the lowest price we’ll offer all year.

You have nothing to lose with Giving Rocket.  If you decide you want to cancel during the first 30 days, that is fine. We’ll give you your money back – guaranteed. After 30 days, you are committed to the year-long program to help you have more money for ministry.

Why wouldn’t you want more money for ministry?

By the way, check out this tweet from Brian Ayers who is a member & loving it.  Contact him if you want to and ask him if we are worth the investment.  Click here to get started with Giving Rocket today.

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Oh, and you still have 2 days to make your sermons better this year by learning how other pastors craft their messages every week. We’ll show you exactly how to do it. If you sign up today, you’ll get the entire 12-month program for $1188 $799 with the promo code NEWYEAR. Click here to get started with Preaching Rocket today.

Our lowest price of the year is available for new and renewing members. We’ll shut it off at midnight tomorrow.

A Mayan Giving Talk about the End of the World

Here’s a timely Giving Talk you can use to talk about the end of the world and how it relates to generosity. If you’re not sure what a Giving Talk is or exactly how to use it, check out this free report. And if the world really does end today, just disregard this blog post.

My name is John and I’m on staff here at Cross Church. Thank you for being here.

I’m actually surprised you’re here because the world was supposed to end on Friday.

As I was thinking about what to say this week and it hit me that we should talk about the end of the world. Friday marked the day that an ancient Mayan calendar comes to the end and some believed it was going to be the end of the world.

There was a special website set up to help us prepare for the end of the world. There were 14,000 likes on the Facebook page! It had links to gas masks and first-aid kids and hand-crank radios. All stuff you needed…up until Friday.

Well, we’re still here today.

What is crazy is how people really do talk about and get worked up about the end of the world or the end of life as we know it. Fear is used to sell crank radios and bottled water.

Even thought the world didn’t end Friday, I do think about the end of the world. And in the endm what do we really get to keep anyway? You can’t take a crank radio with you to heaven.

Jim Elliott said this one time, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

The reality is, this world will end for us all, but because of Jesus – our lives will not end.

Our church celebrates giving all year but especially this time of the year.  Today, when we give… We will be giving up something here on earth we can’t keep anyway.

Each week in our service we stop for a few minutes and remember that God is the source of all our stuff….money, possessions, and stuff. As Christ followers, we believe that God has given us this stuff as a gift.

We will pass some plates/baskets in a few minutes and you can give financially through cash or check. In the lobby we have digital giving options after the service if that is easier for you and your family.

Let me pray and the ushers will come forward to receive today’s offering!

Cyber Monday Email to Send to Your Church Database

Here is an email template to send out to your church email database on Cyber Monday.

Subject of Email: Our Church is participating in Cyber Monday!

Hey…it’s Pastor John.

Just wanted to touch base with you on “Cyber Monday!” A lot of people are shopping online today & shopping for gifts & I wanted to send you a quick note and tell you that I believe Cyber Monday can be a GOOD THING!

On Cyber Monday, people buy stuff online. That isn’t bad but it isn’t lasting. Our church exists to reach people that do not know Jesus and that IS lasting!

While you are out shopping today online, why not go here and give to God through the local church. I 100% believe that this investment is eternal and good for you and God’s Kingdom.

While you are giving gifts to people, let’s remember to honor God with our finances this year end! This is our cyber monday deal: 100% of your investment will go to reaching people for Jesus.

What do ya think? Let me know!

Pastor John

P.S. Here’s the link to cyber monday giving to Cross Church. :) ”

Three Money Mistakes Pastors Make

Here are three money mistakes many pastors make.

1. Not communicating ENOUGH.

Stewardship Sunday and the quick mention about online giving in the weekly update are not enough. People in the real world deal with money every day, so this is something you have to talk about on a regular basis.

You need a strategy for talking about money every Sunday, preaching a holistic financial series once a year, and communicating with donors consistently. You need a strategy that brings together the worship service, mid-week communication, email, snail mail and other tools at your disposal.

Most churches have a plan to spend the money (an annual budget), but very few have a plan to actually receive the money. A funding plan is just as important as a spending plan. Without the first, there’s no money to spend in the second. As a pastor, you need an annual plan that encompasses teaching, communication, appreciation, special offerings, events and more.

If you join the Giving Rocket Core Coaching program, we will help you create this communication and planning system.  We will also give you 52 giving talk scripts you can use to set up your offering, done for you letters and emails to send to your congregation, and all the graphics so you can have a giving brand inside your church.

2. Informing, not inspiring or asking.

Wait, informing people is a good thing, right? Well, it’s a good start but it’s not enough.

You don’t need to just INFORM people…you need to INSPIRE them. Giving to the budget is typically not very inspiring for people. Yes, some people will do it because they understand the Scripture. But other people need to understand what’s at stake and be inspired by what’s happening.

This is why stories are so powerful. Stories aren’t built on facts and stats…they speak to human emotions. They reach into people’s lives. When you talk about the offering and you ask people to give, you need to inspire them, not just guilt them.  That’s why one third of our giving talk scripts are built on stories.

Just like failing to inspire is a mistake, failing to call people to action is a mistake. When you pass the plate in church on Sunday, don’t assume that everyone knows what’s going on. Slow down and give clear instructions. Don’t say, “We have an offering.” That’s informing. Give people clear instructions and ask them to participate.

Don’t just tell people they can give online. Give them clear instructions – SHOW them how it works – and clearly ask them to do it. Informing is good…asking is better.

3. Listening to the one loud voice.

Most churches have this person. We often call him “everybody.” Sometimes, this one person, or this small group of people get labeled “they.”

  • Pastor, people are starting to wonder.
  • They say we talk about money too much,
  • People think a Giving Kiosk is too weird.

Don’t let the fear of a few keep you from leading the entire church in generosity. When you introduce new ways to give, somebody will have some feedback. But in most cases, what a few people are saying is not what the majority is thinking.

We’ve worked with dozens of churches to implement a digital giving strategy, and in just about every case, there was a person or a small group of people on a finance team who had serious problems with credit card fees.

These are not bad people, and in most cases, they really do want what’s best for the church. But when we explain the benefits and help them understand the options, they often come around. Sadly, too many churches never get to this point because the loud voices squelch passion and new ideas.

Have you made any of those three mistakes?  The good news is you can learn from your mistakes and keep growing as a leader.

Kiosk, Website and Mobile Giving Solutions

Our mission is to help churches have more money for ministry.  And we believe the church should be the most well-funded organization on the planet.  So we’re honored to coach so many churches on how to increase giving.  Your church matters and we want to help.

One of the most frequent questions we get relates to tools and providers for online giving, kiosk giving or mobile giving.  We got the question so much that we seriously considered creating tools for the church.  

But we have some friends who are already doing a great job with all three of these tools and we can’t do it any better.  So instead of recreating the wheel, we recommend Secure Give. 

Here’s what we like about them:

  • They were pioneers of the giving kiosk.  Today, they have several models, including a swipable iPad option.  That’s a great solution for churches who already have iPads!
  • They do a great job with web giving.  It integrates well with your existing site and it’s simple to manage.
  • They have a good mobile app that allows people to give to your church from their iPhone or Android phone.  
  • All of these tools work TOGETHER and they work with most church database programs.  They are easy on the donor, but they take the pain out of setup and admin too.

Many of the top churches in America are using SecureGive so we’re proud to recommend them.

The Most Controversial Way to Increase Giving

We believe the church should be the most well funded organization on the planet.  And we want every local church to have more money for ministry. Not just more money….more money for ministry.

And one of the best tools to increase giving in your church is a giving kiosk.  A giving kiosk is an ATM-style machine in your lobby that allows people to make digital donations by swiping a credit or debit cards.  

Here are some things you need to know about Giving Kiosks.

1.  Yes, they might be weird at first.  When ATMs were first introduced in New York City, people thought they were weird.  But they proved to be extremely convenient when a snowstorm made it impossible for local bank branches to be staffed and they caught on. Today, you can execute most banking functions from an ATM.  

2.  You mitigate the weirdness by rolling them out correctly.  Like most things in the church, communication is key.  You can’t just drop a kiosk in the lobby and expect people to understand.  We created a simple resource called THE KIOSK LAUNCH KIT to guide you through how to communicate this new tool.   

3.  Kiosks allow people who don’t have cash or checks to donate.  And this might be the MAJORITY of your congregation.  You can inspire people to give and they may WANT to participate, but if you only pass the plate and people don’t have cash or checks, they cannot participate.  It’s literally impossible.  A Giving Kiosk solves this problem and makes it convenient for people to give. 

4.  You don’t have to force people to use the kiosk.  Some people don’t think swiping a card is worshipful, preferring to drop something in the plate as an act of worship.  That’s fantastic!  Don’t rob people of that opportunity to worship.  But you can also accommodate others who want to worship but don’t have a checkbook.

 5.  Kiosks are great tools to help people set up recurring contributions.  In addition to making one-time donations, people can also use a kiosk to set up automatic contributions.  This is one of the most effective ways to increase giving in your church.

6.  Your kiosk can work with your website giving and your church database program.  This is one of the big reasons we sternly recommend Secure Give.  They have a comprehensive giving solution – making web, kiosk and mobile giving accessible to your church.  You can take advantage of ALL of these features or just 

7.  A kiosk can be a stand alone machine, or you can use an iPad.  For many churches, the iPad makes a great giving kiosk.  And the youth pastor gets to play Angry Birds during the week.  Again, SecureGive can take care of you.

Do you have a question about giving kiosks?  Leave a comment and ask away.  Do you use a giving kiosk?  Leave a comment and share your experiences.  

 

9 Things I Learned Donating Online to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

Not long ago, I made online donations to both Presidential candidates. My purpose was not to support a political agenda, but to evaluate the donation and follow up process and see what we could learn. The experiment was fascinating. Here are nine things I learned or realized during the process.

1. It never occurred to me to try and find my local campaign headquarters to make a donation – I went straight to the web. Digital is my default. If you’re still REQUIRING people to give or pay in person or with cash or checks, you’re missing it. Nobody is getting elected President without being able to receive digital contributions. And receiving digital donations is a MUST for churches these days.

2. Both websites made it EASY to find the contribution page. I didn’t have to search through a site map to get to a donation page. It was super clear and easy to find.  When we went to more than 100 church websites to make donations, it was usually more difficult to find the link or button.

3. I was able to donate with my American Express, which is my credit card of choice. You’re crazy if you don’t take all four major credit cards. I know some churches do not accept credit cards at all because they don’t want to encourage debt. But I think there are better ways to educate and help people with their finances.

4. Both candidates gave me the opportunity to turn my one time donation into a recurring donation with one simple click. Right after I entered the amount, there was a button that said, “Make this a recurring donation.” One time donations are great, but they know that recurring contributions are a home run. When we surveyed over 1,000 church leaders, we found that emphasizing recurring donations was the leading indicator of churches who were exceeding their budget. You can see all the results from this FREE study.

5. Both websites gave me the option of setting up an online profile for expedited giving later, but only AFTER I made my one-time donation. If you ask people to set up an account before they give, you’ll lose people in the process. Churches, go ahead and ask people create an account, but make sure you give people a “no registration required” and super-fast option as well.

6. President Obama’s website asked for slightly less information that Governor Romney’s site. I was able to cut and paste my credit card number into a field on President Obama’s site, but Governor Romney’s made me remove the dashes. On one website, I didn’t have to enter the 3-4 digit security code; on the other it was required. If you don’t have to ask for it, don’t ask for it – the simpler the better.

7. The process was quick.  Donating to President Obama took me 64 seconds. Donating to Governor Romney took me 95 seconds, mostly because the credit card number field required no dashes. We made online donations to 100 different church websites and found the average time to be over 3 minutes.

8. Both websites offered me extra incentives to give. President Obama was featuring an evening with George Clooney and Mr. Romney offered me a chance to meet his wife. My donation entered into a raffle for these things. A lot of times we talk about how giving will help the church or expand the kingdom, but it’s rare for churches to talk about what giving will do for the donor.

9. I received immediate confirmation of my donation. Both emails were short and both asked for another donation. Mr. Romney’s confirmation email looked better, but Mr. Obama’s email was more clear and did a better job asking me to make another donation and set up recurring contributions. Quick and clear follow up for donations is a MUST.

In the Giving Rocket core coaching program, we have in-depth training on digital donations, follow up and ten other topics related to increasing giving in the church. You can preview the program or sign up here.

What Do You Dream Of?

Do you want to retire early? Quit your job and become a stay at home mom? Start your own business? Travel?

You have huge hopes and dreams for your life, and so do I! Unfortunately, most of them will cost so much that they may seem unachievable. If you’re doing everything possible to win with your money, but feel like you are spinning your wheels financially, then oxen ownership could be the key to seeing your dreams funded.

My friend, Joe Sangl, is releasing his latest book, Oxen: The Key to an Abundant Harvest, helping others “achieve far more than they ever thought possible in their personal finances.” In Oxen, Joe shares principles that will help you maximize your financial resources so you can experience an abundant harvest and fund your biggest dreams. You will learn how to:

  • Leverage the power of oxen
  • Identify and acquire oxen
  • Earn income even while you’re not working
  • Measure and build net worth
  • Fund your dreams

Click here or visit www.oxenbook.com to learn more.

Giving Rocket Lab Recap

Last week, about twenty Giving Rocket members gathered at City Church Eastside in Atlanta to talk about reaching new givers in 2013. Pastors from all across the country gathered for this one day workshop led by our friend David Walters, the Senior Pastor of The Vine. It was a great day focused on kingdom impact.

We have three more labs scattered across the country for our members. Come see us in Orlando, Houston or San Francisco. If you’re a member, you can sign up for these in the member’s area.  If you’re not a member, jump into the core coaching program and take advantage of these in-person workshops.