Church Offerings: A Lagging Indicator?

Are Present Giving Patterns A Lagging Indicator?

Lagging Indicators:  “A lagging indicator is an observable or measurable factor that changes some time after” another apparent correlated factor.

For instance, hospitalizations for COVID-19 are a lagging indicator of the infection rate.  It lags behind the infection rate.  A “lagging indicator” stands in contrast to a  “leading indicator.”   The number of hospitalizations on any particular day or week becomes a leading indicator of a shortage of beds and possible deaths.

It may be that present church offerings are a “lagging indicator” of a local church ministries’ financial stability. While present giving may be consistent with past giving patterns, they will take a dramatic fall in coming months. 

Past giving patterns do not guarantee future performance.

Rerouted: There will be those members who will become acquainted with other legitimate and good ministries worthy of their financial support. [1]  Some percentage of that which was typically given to the church may be used to support yet other new and worthy ministries.  Maybe this-or-that ministry has a greater need, or appears to be much more effective in what it accomplishes, or has shown itself to be more creative and productive in what it aims to accomplish, or . . . .

Distracted: There will be those members who must cut back on their giving – who were able to give more than 10% of their income before COVID-19, but now there are needs within the home, within the family, among the grown children, etc. which will demand such cuts.

Disillusioned: There will be those members who will have become “disillusioned” with their local church as they have lived and worked through COVID-19.  The church leadership hasn’t performed very well –”Is this COVID-19 just a long paid vacation for our church pastors and staff?  Maybe it is time to rethink what we are giving to support.  They may be staying, but not giving as they have in the past because they expected a much better overall response.

Voting Present: There will be those members who will be looking for a different church ministry, having become disappointed in and/or disenchanted with the way their leadership has handled, spoken about, addresses the many and varied crises of 2020.  They are just out looking and are still financially supporting the local church they may end up leaving.  When they actually leave, their giving will follow them.  “Giving” will be a lagging indicator of their dissatisfaction and absence while looking around.

Grace Not Law: There will be those members who are hoping that they will be able to continue to give, but it is looking more and more like that isn’t going to happen much longer.  The clock is ticking, and while they are giving10% of their income today, a hard decision is coming down the road as to whether they can keep up with giving what they have been giving much longer – “Remember, Pastor has been teaching against legalism! – “Tithing is part of the OT law, and tithing is not taught in the NT.”

Declining Income: There will be those whose income has dropped, and while they may still be giving the same amount as they always have, the reality of giving more than 10% of one’s income will become clear, and their giving will drop, while not in percent of income.

Had Enough: They have come to realize that they are just a number and/or a check. Whether they are there or not, there is no personal interest in them, their family, and/or their children. “The church doesn’t care about me …. I have come to believe that it never has as it turns out.” Whether it be due to the pastor’s inexperience, a lack of creativity, self-centeredness, or laziness, the pastor(s) have woefully failed to navigate the ship through this testing time. These weeks and months have just certified what I have been seeing over the years.

If or when such a financial drop occurs, that drop will not be due to what is happening at the time.  That drop was merely a lagging indicator of what was taking place months ago, what has been taking place long before the time of awareness and possible remedy.

If pastors or ministry leaders do not realize that the drop in giving is a lagging indicator, they will mistakenly focus on what is happening when the drop occurs or when it becomes acute.  They may make their evaluations and adjustments based on the financial drop’s present context, rather than looking back on what has been happening over the past months..

Result?  Another navigational mistake will be made by some pastors and church leaders as they try to address the financial storm they then find themselves experiencing, not realizing that the navigational decisions which needed to be made, needed to be made many months ago, long before “today.”  They will be making adjustments and changes which will not get them out of the storm.  Those changes in course had to be made long ago.  Their only course of action now is to try to push through the financial storm – which may last far longer than imagined – perhaps years – perhaps several years later when another “captain” steps on board and tries to navigate through it all, after the damage of the previous “captain” has taken its toll on the ship, its cargo, and passengers.

It may be the better part of wisdom for local churches across America to look ahead, down the financial road, and plan for such a potential drop in income.

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself:
but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Proverbs 22:3; 27:12

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1. “Storehouse Tithing”:  There are those who teach “Storehouse Tithing or Giving” – Malachi 3:10.  They teach and believe that the “tithe” – the first 10% of income ought to be only given to the local church, and then anything above that (“offerings”) can be given to other ministry endeavors.

I am not advocating that God’s people should not give out of their income, and in my understanding of the Scriptures, giving 10% is a right and reasonable minimum for God’s people.  What I refuse to argue is that “Storehouse Tithing” is a biblical mandate for “the church.”  Unfortunately, for self-serving reasons, some pastors teach that position.

Interestingly, while some will teach that tithing is an O.T. practice and was part of the law (“Legalism!” ),  some still go on to teach that “Storehouse” giving is a biblical pattern for N.T. saints – that the “tithe” should go to only the local church.  What happened to “legalism.”

That is not to say that you should or should not give to support the local church ministry.  But it does mean that there is no biblical mandate for giving the first 10% of your income to the local church.

There are some good reasons for choosing NOT to give to your local church!  You may not realize it, but some ministries and churches are flush with cash and have excessive and unconscionable amounts of reserve in the bank. I know of some personally.

Other ministries abuse and misuse what is being given through terrible and repeated purchasing decisions, top-heavy administration cost, over-staffing, the multiplication and layering of ineffective staff and pastors, sloppy purchasing habits, etc.  I know of some personally!

Some ministries have leaders who have made unwise and foolish financial decisions, and that ministry has been forced to limit their ministry because of those terrible decisions.  Then, instead of removing such individuals from positions of financial authority and responsibility, they ask God’s people to dig them out of this-or-that crunch.  I know of some personally.

Some ministries give far too much financial authority to those in leadership, with little transparency or accountability to the membership of the church.  The financial reports are broad-brushed and little is actually known as to who is paid what, what was purchased, are funds co-mingled, who are and who are not the paid staff, etc. Far too much is covered and concealed from those who support the ministry.  I know of such ministries personally.

Some ministries allow the pastor to know, specifically or generally, the giving patterns of the people.  I have even personally heard a pastor state in a sermon that while he does not know what people give, yet he had asked the treasurer if the leaving of so-in-so from the church will make a difference to the ministry financially.  And she said, “No.”  Good reason not to give to that ministry!

Much more could be said about these various areas of financial concern! All are reason enough for some to purposefully chose to give to other ministries rather than the local church.

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Some churches may also teach “Faith Promise” giving for missions, which also has no biblical basis, but it does keep all the “tithes” going to the local church ministry.  Interesting, it protects the local church in that it doesn’t tie the survival of the various mission endeavors to the local church’s general income.  If the funds don’t come in to support the various mission endeavors, then they suffer, not the local church ministry – “sorry about that missionaries.”

Covering Up The Sexual Immorality Of A Fellow Pastor

cover up


Here is a worthwhile read for those ministry leaders, pastors, and deacons who attempt to cover up the sexual immorality of others connected to and associated with their ministry!




“Another witness—a victim of Trotter’s, Jennifer Baker—said she approached Loritts several weeks after the phone was discovered and was discouraged from reporting Trotter’s crime because it was “too late.” The phone was already gone.

Baker added that Loritts threatened her with church discipline if she told anyone at the church about Trotter’s crime.”

Link To Full Article

10 Questions To Ask!

COVID-19 — A Reagent

three test tubes

COVID-19 Has Been A Reagent!

COVID-19 been a game-changer, impacting all shades of Christian ministry.

  • Christian camps
  • para-church organizations
  • church planting
  • international missions
  • counseling
  • VBS
  • Christian Education
  • evangelism
  • seminars
  • Christian colleges
  • mission trips
  • retreats

AND . . . .

  • local churches

COVID-19 has also been a REAGENT!
A reagent is a substance that is added to another substance which is being tested.  The reagent is looking to triggering a reaction.  That reaction reveals something about the substance being tested.  A reagent is aimed at producing a reaction, usually visualized by change in color on a test strip.  Reagents are used to determine blood glucose, ketones, pregnancy, chlorine, and now the well-known COVID-19.

COVID-19 was a crisis mixed into American life and living.  It triggered a reaction within the Christian community and within a variety of ministries.  Perhaps, that reaction was most visible within the local church setting.

COVID-19 has been a reagent
— a detector —
of the thinking and attitudes of the hearts
of pastors and leaders in the local church.

Actually, a good number of revelatory reactions have taken place.  For some local church ministries, there were striking disclosures as to the thinking and attitudes of the leaders and leadership in church ministries.  As previously stated, the brightest test strip was the first on the list.  I am sure there are more that I have listed, but this might be a sampling of some of the varied-colored test strips which showed up and continue to  appear.

There was . . . .

√  far too little interest in keeping in contact with members.
√  a lack of ministry creativity as to how to handle the new challenges.
√  an initial priority on financial survival.
√  a diminishing of preaching-teaching God’s Word.
√  the pitting of fear against faith.
√  a new or renewed political focus in preaching which accompanied the politics of COVID-19.
√  a readiness to charge the government with persecution.
√  a new discussion as to the right of ministries to disobey the law.
√  the exciting of the waters, instead of the calming of God’s flock.
√  a propensity by laity and clergy to propagate “tin foil hat” theories.
√  more “membership” movement to other local church options
√  a new openness a live-streaming and a disinterest in attending by church members.
√  a “rending” & twisting of Scripture in order to fit the times — prophetically and institutionally.
√  a survival mentality instead of a serving mentality


  • What changes would I make in local church ministry if I were still pastoring a local church today?
  • What would I do if I was starting a local church today?
  • Where have some of the greatest. mistakes been made by others, which can alert us to those pitfalls?
  • Who has been the most successful in navigating the COVID-19 waters?
  • What will the local church ministry look like six-months from not, one-year from now?
  • What must we do to still be effective in ministry months from now?
  • Will we as a local church survive this in a way that still leaves us as a local church ministry, effective, or will be be impaired for years ahead?
  • What can still be done to correct course and avoid some of the damage that is around the corner?
  • What changes to ministry might we be forced to make?
  • Is there one new avenue of ministry we need to add to be more effective post COVID-19?

Feel free to push-back !

We don’t have to agree, but as believers, we do need to
THINK why we do what we do.

My Pharmacists Called Me Yesterday

Did I mention that my pharmacist called me AGAIN this week……  Not an assistant – but he called!  Because his business matters to him personally, first, and most importantly!

(Originally posted in June 2020)

I received a call yesterday from my pharmacist. Why is that so important? Aum Pharmacy is a small family-owned business, and Dr. Patel has only known us for less than a year. He called – “Mr. Martens, I’m calling just to . . . . ” He called asked how we were doing, WOW! I understand that he is interested in keeping our business and/or seeing if we are still his customers – The men of this world are wiser than the children of light!* But many a church never came even close to that over the previous 14 weeks of this Corona Crisis.

Many members of the local church never even received ONE call, no less a visit (oh yea – there are easy ways to pay a visit as a pastor even midst this kind of crisis – just not much creativity. When there is not much concern and heart, there is little creativity and a lot of self-serving decisions and excuses. Heart is a prerequisite to creativity when it comes to shepherding!

This CoronaCrisis may reveal just another failure of many a local church ministry and finally lead to thinking seriously about making a move for many church members across the landscape of America’s Bible-believing churches. It may be the “clunk,” which causes many to make that move.

All of us have probably owned a car, and as the years moved on, we repaired this, then that, then something minor, then something major, and continued to invest time and money into that car with the obvious unrealistic hope that it would be could avoid purchasing a new car – maybe up to 350,000 miles of hope – which was my longest-running attempt.

Finally, there comes a time – time to trade it in, bite the bullet, and start over – buy a new car. That is what happens with members of a local church – especially when it comes to those who “lean on the car’s ability to keep them rolling and get them to where they know they need to be day after day” – who really put a lot of “miles” on the car. They need a car which will meet the demands day by day!

Those who give a great deal of their time, talent, and treasure, who invest heavily into a church ministry, who are willing to live with this-or-that irritation, this-or-that repeating whining sound, and are even willing to pay an emotional-social-spiritual price when various mechanical failures occur – the pain of the words and/or event, the loss of some church friends, the spiritual disillusionment which comes with poor church decisions, and/or the discouragement which accompanies being part of an imperfect fellowship.

Those with less investment, those who are on the sidelines of church ministry – who may primarily just attend the morning service and little else, or have little connection because of little personal interest in them, or never felt part of this church because the pastor does not even know their names, or they never broke into the established circles – may well just keep driving the same “car” until another used or new car catches their fancy at this-or-that time in their life. They leave the church virtually unnoticed, and unfortunately undiscovered for weeks or months – “You know – I haven’t seen so-in-so for several weeks now, are they . . . “

There will also be some who will leave the church during this American crisis because the car they are driving is not at all the car they thought it was. They found out in this time of crisis that the car broke down or performed poorly. “Old Nelly” really doesn’t have what it takes to keep me motoring down the road. This crisis has brought that truth to light.

As members of the church, they never received a call from a pastor and/or deacon for 12 to 14 weeks. Sadly, that has happened in many a church. Instead of pastors seizing the moment to create some incredible ties with God’s people, the pastoral leadership has never made one phone call to those who were not part of that small and close cadre of “important people”, but they served and gave of their time, talent and treasure, and thought that the pastors cared. We will hear about their leaving in the words of those who knew them and/or sat around them in the congregation – “Yea, I haven’t seen (name).” Those who knew them and/or sat near them knew their names, but not many others. “Who???? — What did they look like? — Oh, I think I know who you are talking about.

”The pastors will continue to respond with far too little concern, or believe that they had anything to do with their leaving — “Why didn’t God’s people call them, or send them a card (one of those wildly creative ideas – sending a handwritten note),” or shift their indifference onto others, or claim that they are more busy, spent, or worn than others who also work a “40-hour week” in the world yet still give hours ministering at the church.

It is that drip-drip-drip, accumulation of sounds, creeks, noises, needed maintenance schedules, necessary small repairs, bumps, and scratches, major breakdowns of this-or-that part – which finally leads to “trading-it-in.” That is what can keep the door revolving in the local church setting. It is merely accented during a time of crisis, such as the COVID pandemic.

At the end of this CovidCrisis don’t be surprised that some people are not returning to the services of the church. They have paused to think about whether it is time to look around for a new car which performs better. They now realize that it is time to stop repairing it – “Now another strange sound coming from the car – the sound of pastoral indifference midst a request to keep sending in your tithe and offerings! The institution is more important than you are – “What’s your name again?”

Hopefully, they will not, and should not, consider the possibility of “stop driving.” The head of the church is our Lord, and He well knows how imperfect it is, from the beginning of His ministry to the night in the garden when even his closest disciples fell asleep.

While it is said over and over – “no church is perfect” – and none is – there are differences on the continuum of imperfection. That is why, “No church is perfect,” should not stop us from insisting on or looking for a “more perfect union of believers, when it comes to church ministry, life, and service.

For some, another or a new clunking sound will emerge, because crises place new demands on a car. Some drivers will again be alerted and reminded that the car really isn’t performing very well. This will now be a time for church hunting, jumping, cautiously visiting – looking for a church which cares about us and our family, cares more for people than for its survival, and its financial viability. Seeing if there is a “more perfect” church – a church which showed that it cared about “the body” through creative ways of ministry during this crisis, as much as they cared about getting us all back together in a live service, as was the outcry of far too many pastors all across America.

CLUNK — What’s that sound?

Did I mention that my pharmacist called me AGAIN this week….. Not an assistant – but he called!  Because his business matters to him first and most importantly!

The men of this world are wiser than the children of light!

September 2020 Poll


* The men of this world are wiser than the children of light – than those who have been given the light, the light of the glorious Gospel, the light of the world, the light which guides and directs, the light which shown out of darkness, a light that shines in a dark place, the armor of light, a light which makes manifest, . . . . .

Creative Suggestion: Put four or more lawn chairs in you car and call an “on the margins church family,” — not someone you know well — ask if you can stop over, and sit outside with some coffee or lemonade and just talk for 30 minutes… then repeat….do again tomorrow…You will build some ties that will last for years!

Get out of the echo chamber of those around you who tell you what you want to hear, which never challenge you as a pastor, found all across our Americanized churches of ease. Jeremiah 12:5