Measuring Church Health: How Much Money Should People Give?

Money-church-affordThey may not say it out loud, but I’ve talked with enough pastors through the years to know there are two key numbers they’re interested in: attendance and giving. Attendance matters because it’s one measure we have of the impact the church is having in a community.

Ironically, giving may actually be a better measure of the real heart change Jesus is having in people’s lives.

With that, let me share the data from the churches we’ve served. I have a feeling this is going to be very sobering for some of you.

That’s right. For the churches we’ve served over the years, the average giving per person per week is between $37 and $45. You can ask Ryan, who has helped me with the data and analysis. This is the one benchmark I’ve asked him to recheck on several occasions. That number is much higher than I would have expected.

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As you might imagine, there appear to be several variables that will impact this measure. For example, location matters. There are regions of the country where the cost of living and wage levels will drive this number up or down. Who you’re reaching also matters. If your church is reaching people outside the faith, it takes time for them to get to the point where they’re ready to give.

That said, your stewardship strategy also matters. Churches that have experienced increases in per capita giving have engaged several of these intentional actions:

  • Identifying a champion for stewardship systems and strategies at the church.
  • Annually teaching a series of messages on biblical money and stewardship principles. And by “series,” I mean three to five consecutive messages, not three messages spread out during the year.
  • Providing coaching for people who need help getting to a healthy place with their personal finances.
  • Engaging stewardship campaigns with companies like RSI Stewardship, one of my strategic partners, to fund their vision. They do stewardship every day, and they know stuff you don’t know.
  • Connecting giving with vision. Connecting giving with stories of life change. Connecting giving with spiritual disciplines. Generosity becomes a value that’s not only important to the church’s health, but is also a priority for helping people take their next steps toward Christ.

What are you doing to intentionally help people embrace biblical stewardship principles and apply them to their lives? Are you helping people take their next steps in this area, or are you avoiding the issue for fear of how people will react?

Let me just offer this: If people are stuck financially, they’re looking for help. If you engage this topic with a biblical approach, people will respond in a very positive way. In fact, don’t be surprised if your series on helping people tackle financial challenges also grows your attendance. I’ve seen it happen many times.

Want to learn more about measuring church health? Here are the previous articles in this series:

Tony Morgan is the chief strategic officer and founder of He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, Ga.), NewSpring Church (Anderson, S.C.) and Granger Community Church (Granger, Ind.). With Tim Stevens, Tony has co-authored Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers and Simply Strategic Growth—each of which offers valuable, practical solutions for different aspects of church ministry. His book Killing Cockroaches (B&H Publishing) challenges leaders to focus on the priorities in life and ministry.

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