Many church leaders get nervous about finances in the middle of the year. They wonder, "Are we going to meet our budget? If the church's is not on target, how can we get people to give more during the second half of the year.
Then as they approach the last quarter of the year, many churches start their stewardship campaigns, which often focus exclusively on the currency of money. Having "tunnel vision" on money, may lead to ignoring other currencies that may help church leaders make wise decisions for long-term sustainability. This is how churches fall into the scarcity trap:
The more the church obsesses over money, the more they narrow the focus and ignore other opportunities and options. They make decisions without the full benefit of the currencies of truth, relationship, wellness and gracious leadership.
These decisions in turn, may cause the church's financial picture to worsen. In this way, the cycle of scarcity continues.
One way to move people out of tunnel mode is to interrupt with reminders of what is important.
A group of economists tried to help poor people in Boliva, Peru, and the Philippines to increase their savings. The economists' research showed the poor failed to save, in part because of tunneling. "Saving is an important, but not an urgent task, in part because the scope of vision of the poor, then the economists sent them a quick note reminding them of what they were saving for and how much." These benign reminders boosted savings by 6 percent. "We were able to increase not through education or by stealing people's willpower, but merely reminding them or something important that they tend to overlook when they tunnel.
One of the biblical images of our role within God's creation is that of a steward who is put in charge of the household while the owner is away (Mark 13:33-37) Because we do not know when the owner will return, we are challenged, as stewards, to stay alert. At any moment we might need to account for that which has been put in our charge. This alertness should not be limited to a particular time of the year. Therefore, churches should not wait until the last quarter of the year to conduct a stewardship campaign. They should avoid focusing only on the currency of money, which can reinforce the tunnel effect. Try reminding your community to be good stewards of all God's currencies --time, place, gracious leadership, relationship, truth and wellness - through the entire year --365 days
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