Sharing Secret Cropped For Web

Hey, Church... Wanna Hear a Secret?

Article Type: Pastor to Pastor

By Rev. Phillip Leo, Church Communications Director

Wanna hear a secret?

I pose this question to church leaders when I speak with them. And since most people are down for some spilt beans, here’s what I tell them…

In the past year since becoming Barnabas Foundation’s church communications director, I’ve realized many churches miss something critical that other Christian not-for-profits get. Thinking back to my 23 years as a church pastor, I now see it’s something I never understood either. 

So here’s the secret: planned gifts are essential for funding both current and future ministry.

Thriving Christian not-for-profit ministries benefit from gifts left in a will or donated non-cash assets such as stocks, property or commodities. These ministries will allocate resources and staff every year to solicit and receive planned gifts. It’s essential for their ongoing ministry and achieving a vision for the future.

Now if you say, “This isn’t much of a secret, Phil!” then I say, “Congrats! You’re one of the few who gets it.” 

My experience, however, is that most churches focus on the budget from year-to-year. Most churches don’t aim for or educate their supporters about planned gifts. But many other types of not-for-profit ministry do this work.

I’m not saying churches don’t receive planned gifts because many do. My point is that churches aren’t intentional about inviting planned gifts. Often when a gift in a will does come along, it’s a surprise. There’s no plan in place to receive it. Even more so, there’s no intentionality to steward it. 

I can only guess as to why. Maybe the demands of day-to-day ministry eclipse any ability to get set-up for planned gifts. Maybe the high rate of leadership turnover in churches is the problem. Or maybe church ministry is viewed as being in a class all by itself, so that planned gifts aren’t seen as necessary. I’m not sure.

In my work at Barnabas Foundation, I help churches get on the same footing as every other ministry out there. Without draining valuable time or resources, your church can be pro-active about receiving planned gifts from members who want to expand ministry impact. It’s not difficult, and I can help!

I typically don’t let secrets slip, but this is one cat I’m happy to let out of the bag. 


Barnabas Foundation is proud to be your partner in promoting financial literacy and generous giving at your church. Find articles, books, studies and more for your church under Tools and Resources. You can also email me at pleo@BarnabasFoundation.com or call 888.448.3040. 

Rev. Phillip Leo is the Church Communications Director at Barnabas Foundation. Read Phil's online bio