Over a decade ago, I wrote a book titled Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate that challenged all the norms around Christian financial stewardship at that time. The bottom-line premise was that leaders within the Christian community—primarily the church—must make significant changes if they want to succeed in their mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Now, in this excellent new book, A Better Offering: 5 Unmistakable Habits of Generous Churches, Don Smith has taken seriously the challenge I gave years ago; only he’s gone a step further by saying that the perfect time to implement radical change in church stewardship is now—not regardless of this world’s post-pandemic state, but perhaps because of it.
The most powerful thing that comes across in Don’s message is that making vital changes is not done just so the church can have the financial resources to survive current social, spiritual, and economic challenges, but so the church can more vibrantly fulfill its overall mission. This theme comes across throughout the pages as Don simply asks, “If we are not making disciples for Jesus and helping change the world, why keep doing it?”
For over a century, the church has passed the offering plate as a means to support itself, and over time, as the church has moved away from having a national tax, passing the plate has proved its worth. But not anymore. For the last fifty years, the church and the funds necessary for supporting it have been in decline. Money donated to religious entities continues to decrease as charitable gifts and new members coming into the faith are fewer and fewer. Change is demanded at every turn—we simply cannot stay the course and continue to watch the numbers disappear.
Don calls for a radical yet simple movement away from the passed plate toward a renewed discovery of generosity. This may well be one of the very foundations that a new church is built upon. That is why this book is much needed by today’s clergy, laity, and anyone who not only wants the church to survive, but to thrive.
I have known Don for twenty-five years, and I have seen his work up close as he pastored several innovative and inspirational churches. I have heard him forcefully preach the gospel to eager congregations and watched him cry with a hurting member of his flock. His record in financial stewardship in each of his churches was magnificent, and the generosity of his people was exemplary. Over time, he transitioned into consulting, teaching, and training others to grow their skills and insights—the same people that led him to such success in making disciples.
For the last fifteen years he has become a mentor to countless pastors and congregations while helping to bring new life in our changing times to the churches he has served. Now it is his turn to write his story so that even more people can learn from his vast experience. Every pastor and financial leader of a congregation should read and study this book, then use it to move their people from contributing to committing.