How Do I Leave Money to the Church?
How Do I Leave Money to the Church? An Interview with Rev. John Mollet, TMF Senior Area Representative for the Central Texas Conference
Interviewer: When you are meeting with churches as a TMF Area Representative, one question comes up pretty frequently. What is that question?
John: When I go to a church, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from laity is this – How do I leave money to my church? On the flip side, staff are asking a similar question – How can we encourage people to leave money to the church?
Interviewer: Church members want to know how they can leave money to their church, so is it difficult to leave money to your church?
John: Actually, it is not difficult, and most churches attempt to make it simple by providing multiple avenues for giving. Many churches already have established endowment funds which allow for additional contributions. Sometimes they have endowments that support specific ministries or programs of the church, which are beloved.
One thing that we can do as Area Representatives is facilitate a Putting Your House in Order workshop. This workshop focuses on questions around end-of-life giving and only lasts an hour, so it is an excellent first step to help start a conversation about how members can leave money to their congregations.
Interviewer: What are some easy first steps for church members who already know they want to leave money to their church?
John: I believe church members love the church and the Lord. They want to support the things that have been special in their lives and they want to support the Kingdom of God, so they have an innate desire to be generous. The problem is many people do not know where to start. These are the suggestions I normally make.
(1) Investigate giving opportunities, such as creating a will or a trust. Since 55% of Americans choose not to create a will, they do not have the chance to decide how they want to direct their generosity after death. There are many options, so start the discovery process.
(2) Visit with a financial advisor or lawyer you trust to give you excellent advice. These experts usually have a wealth of knowledge and can connect you to the right resources to make the best decisions.
(3) Consider speaking with Justin Gould, our VP of Development, or Charles Smith, our Charitable Services Representative. They, too, have a wealth of knowledge about giving and can make you aware of a myriad of possibilities. (You can call Justin at this number - 512-583-1944)
(4) Don’t procrastinate. If you want to make these decisions for yourself and your family, the best time to do that is always now.
Interviewer: How do you guide people through this process?
John: As an Area Representative I seriously believe the Putting Your House in Order workshop is one of the best ways to guide people through this process and to help put church leaders at ease about starting these conversations. For instance, with this workshop, we provide a booklet that actually walks you through the questions you need to consider for leaving an estate.
Church leaders can be nervous about asking these kinds of questions, but we know that it is incredibly important for the life of the church when they do. Horizons Stewardship says people will give several times more from their estate to their church than they will over the course of their lifetime, so the difference someone can make from an estate gift is usually much more significant than the difference they were able to make as regular givers. When church leaders consider the impact estate gifts can have for long term ministry, they should be encouraged to ask for those gifts.
Interviewer: Why do you think this is such an important question? What does this question tell you about the members?
John: This is an important question because as a pastor I have seen firsthand what money does for God’s work in the world. It is an investment in future ministry, disciple-making, and mission. It is an important question because it speaks to the generous spirit of those who are asking and their commitment to the life of the church they love.
Interviewer: Why is it important for churches to help their members learn more about this possibility?
John: People want to be generous. They want to continue supporting the church, because they see it as an extension of what God has done in their lives. Moreover, God has always had faithful disciples who have stood in the gap between the moments where the church has been strong and the moments where the church has been weak. When people leave money to the church, they enable the church to continue, even during times of weakness or hardship. This is vitally important, so we need to extend the opportunity for church members to be the kind of disciples who will bridge those gaps, ensuring the church’s mission is not compromised by lack of funding.
Interviewer: How can churches learn more?
John: I recommend reaching out to your TMF Area Representative, so we could start a conversation about generosity. If you are part of the Central Texas Conference, I would love to speak with you more - firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are part of another Conference, one of my colleagues would love to speak with you as well. Contact your Area Representative.