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Some Thoughts on Gift Planning

People don’t realize that when they die they can pick two of three places to give their money. They can give it to

  • The Government (taxes)
  • Family
  • Ministry or other charities

Which two would you like to designate in your estate plans?

Such was the introduction at a congregation that had capitalized on a congregation-wide gift planning strategy to continue funding an aggressive church planting effort long past the tenure of the current pastor and most of its members. They were selfless, and they were focused on building financial muscle for a big vision.

They understood: There are no future decisions…only current decisions with future consequences.

While lots of churches have surrendered to the slow spiral toward death, this church was doing things everyone lined up to tell them they wouldn’t be able to do.

Does your congregation have a plan in place to cultivate and receive gifts when people die and go to heaven?

This is the last of three installments responding to the “broken ministry/business model” that most churches are operating with. The earlier ones focused on stewardship and freelancing.

All of these thoughts are intended to give leaders and congregations choices while they wrestle with a lighter weight–and mission expanding–model of ministry most likely (I believe) built around discipling baptized people of God to become leaders for mission.

Gift planning can put financial muscle into future mission and ministry plans!

Only 2% -3% of the people in your congregation have any plans to direct gifts from their estates to your congregation…unless you’ve already done something about it! In fact, only about 30% of the folks in your congregation even have a will or a trust. And, most of the ones that do, they’re desperately out of date.

Most churches do nothing. A few dabble…a seminar here, a workshop there…and reap dabbling results. Very few build a plan and secure the expertise to:

  • Introduce people to tools that enable them to do more than they thought they could with directing gifts to family AND to ministry.
  • Guide people through the uncertain terrain of actually acting on what they want to do.
  • Create a congregational vehicle that assures people that their gifts will be used as they’ve intended.

Could you imagine when you were making your mission and ministry plans for the year if you had an additional $30,000 or $300,000 in funding because leaders like you took steps like this five or ten or twenty years ago?

There are lots of wonderful people who can help at some level in this arena.

Let me recommend this one!

PLI has collaborated with the LCMS Foundation to offer an inexpensive, thorough top to bottom gift planning initiative for the congregations of PLI. Skilled, trusted counselors confidentially help people clarify their goals and then build plans to accomplish their goals.

For every dollar spent, the pilot congregations in this initiative have experienced 50-100 times or more in future planned gift amounts!

So, would you:

  1.  Share this with two or three leaders that need to be in this conversation.
  2. Check out the LCMS Foundation.
  3. Start to dream again about the ripe harvest fields all around your church and pray to God to send more laborers into the fields.
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken

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