Apportionment Success in the El Paso District
They are necessary to determine success, but so often in ministry they seem elusive. How do we measure discipleship growth? What fruit indicates positive change, and who makes that evaluation?
In some situations, the metrics are easier to determine than in others, but those metrics are no less valuable. For the El Paso District of the New Mexico Conference, one metric that was sorely disappointing was apportionment support. El Paso trailed the other conference districts for years and probably trailed behind most districts in the country. Since stewardship is a spiritual discipline, this was not taken lightly.
From 2013 until 2015, El Paso District paid approximately 60% of their apportionments and in 2016, they jumped to 69.7%. While this increase was important, it was still an indication that churches in the district were struggling with stewardship as a spiritual discipline. As a result, Rev. Dr. Eddie Rivera, the El Paso District Superintendent, started working to change this metric.
“We had to improve our culture of giving, so the five largest churches in our district began participating in a TMF Learning Community focused on stewardship practices, at the request of our conference leaders. In addition, I asked district churches to make a covenant to increase apportionment participation rates and 85% of churches made that covenant agreement,” Eddie shared.
The churches in this learning community, led by John Thornburg and Lisa Greenwood from TMF and Joe Park from Horizons Stewardship Company, focus on measuring financial heath, building year-round campaigns, using calendar seasons strategically, budgeting, giving electronically, developing the church’s donor base, and improving the congregational culture of generosity. With the senior pastor and five to ten lay leaders from each church, these individuals have not only gained the skills they need to improve their congregations’ financial health over the course of a year, but they have also made a drastic impact on apportionment support in the district.
In 2017, the El Paso district paid 90.9% of their apportionments!
The combination of participation in the learning community and participation in the covenant agreement had a monumental influence by increasing apportionment support by 20% in one year.
“TMF has deeply influenced the stewardship practices of our largest churches,” Eddie said with certainty. “Now, they have this knowledge and they have the practical experience of putting that knowledge to work in their churches, so I am going to ask them to adopt one or two smaller churches to share what they have learned.”
If this much can be accomplished within the El Paso district in one year, TMF can only imagine what is possible as these churches share the knowledge they have gained…but we fully expect, it will be measured.