Summer giving matters: Can we avoid the seasonal slowdown?
Summer is a busy time at Wilshire, full of activities for preschoolers, children and youth. It’s also a season of vacations and travel, resulting in lower attendance and lower giving. Associate Pastor Doug Haney (DH) recently conducted a Q&A with Finance Committee Chair Tim Morgan (TM) about what it all means for Wilshire’s finances.
DH: Tim, you’re the chair of our Finance Committee this year, but I know you and your family have been deeply invested in Wilshire for a long time. Tell us more.
TM: Jane and I have been members of Wilshire for 45 years. We’re members of the BEST Sunday School Class, and I teach periodically. I’m a deacon and Stephen Minister and have served on most church committees. I have served in many capacities and apparently have never learned how to say “no” very well.
DH: As we approach summer, we are hearing a lot about members’ travel plans. What is a typical trend for summertime giving at Wilshire, and how does this impact our financial outlook?
TM: Summer travel and other activities typically result in lower attendance — and, not surprisingly, in lower giving. This has been the case as long as I can remember. That said, Wilshire’s summer programming involves many children’s, youth and community activities, such as VBS, camps (away and in-town), choir tour, local mission projects, etc. These all cost money, and thus, our cash expenditures are highest during the summer months. Fortunately, we have generally been able to manage our cash flow to enable us to carry out most planned activities — but lower giving during the summer creates a drain on our reserves and often causes us to delay or postpone some ministry-related opportunities. Wilshire has generally made up such deficits with strong December giving; however, there always is a bit of anxiety until Dec. 31 to know whether the shortfall will be recovered.
DH: What would you want to say to the church membership about stewardship as we start this summer, and as we consider this particular time in the life of our church as we search for a new senior pastor?
TM: Stewardship is a key element of our Christian responsibility. I know none of us enjoys hearing frequent sermons or reminders about money, but the truth is that how we as individuals and families manage our money reflects our hearts and our priorities. God is doing wonderful things in the world through Wilshire, and we are only limited by the stewardship of those who call Wilshire their church home. Wilshire’s ministries will go on through this pastoral transition. I think it would be a wonderful gift to an incoming pastor for our giving to be on target to meet our budget needs and minimize the worry about ending the year with a budget shortfall.
DH: Stewardship and finance can often be about the bottom line, about being sure income exceeds expenses, but as a longtime Wilshire member, what would you say about the overall spirit of giving you see in the people of Wilshire? Where do you see God at work in the generosity of the people here?
TM: My observation over the years is that Wilshire’s approach to financial matters is generally to emphasize the spiritual and theological elements of stewardship as opposed to simply “y’all need to give ‘X’ dollars.” The pastor and Finance Committee try to be transparent about our needs — and dollars are occasionally mentioned. In most years, Wilshire has come through, even though it may be at the last minute, and our giving generally meets or exceeds our actual expenses. I believe Wilshire has acted in a fiscally responsible manner over the years (as an example, we have no debt), and I further believe that Wilshire has a relatively mature spirit regarding stewardship. That said, it would still be nice if we did not have the summer slowdown in giving. There really is no excuse for failing to give during the summer — even if people are traveling and not sitting in the pew. Technology affords many options for giving electronically. We pay our bills electronically or automatically — so regular giving to Wilshire can be done in the same manner, as described in the weekly Tapestry. I think every church member should help support the ministry and mission of Wilshire in the best way they can. I realize that a Biblical tithe (i.e., 10%) may seem to be a lot if someone is not currently giving a tithe or not giving at all. That said, if one were in this position, I would encourage them to at least start to give something now and work toward a tithe as they can.
DH: Anything else you would like to say to encourage us all at this moment in the life of our church?
TM: Can you imagine what could be done for the cause of Christ if every church member gave a Biblical tithe? We don’t know exactly what that would look like, but I strongly suspect we could double our budget — and that increase could go toward additional mission and ministry work in our community and around the world. While the Old Testament Scripture, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,” has a nice ring to it, 21st century technology makes it possible to participate in worship and Bible Study remotely and also makes it possible to give regularly even as our mobile lifestyles don’t result in weekly attendance in person. So, my final word is: please don’t put off regular giving through the summer months just because you are on vacation.
DH: Tim, we appreciate your time, and we are grateful for your leadership.
Realm makes giving easy
Wilshire’s database and connection platform makes giving easier than ever. Learn more at wilshirebc.org/realm. For help setting up your profile, contact Susan Kimball at email@example.com. For help with online giving, contact Lori Gooden at firstname.lastname@example.org. To get started with giving, visit wilshirebc.org/give or see the back cover of the Tapestry.