Create a Legacy Giving Ministry to Provide Long-term Benefits

By Rev. Bill Gruenewald, President-Treasurer

Churches are called to reach the lost and disciple believers to live out the Gospel. Stewardship is an aspect of discipleship that encompasses how we manage the resources God gives to us for His Kingdom. Most people think that stewardship only focuses on the tithe, but it includes so much more. Planned Giving (or Legacy Giving) through Estate Planning is an important part of stewardship that is often neglected.

Christian Estate Planning—also known as a Planned Giving Ministry—can provide resources for years to come if your congregation clearly understands the model.

However, there are some things to consider:

1. Be Proactive

The 2019 Millennial Wealth Report from WealthEngine stated that Baby Boomers are expected to pass $68 trillion in assets to the next generation by 2030. This will pass primarily through wills and trusts, but the church could be overlooked if they are not named as beneficiaries in the donor’s documents. Colleges, hospitals, and other philanthropic endeavors are often included, but if the local church is not proactive in seeking these gifts, it will be a missed opportunity.

Statistics show that 60-70% of people do not have a will or trust in place. That is 7 out every 10 people in your church! While many of these people give their tithe regularly, that often doesn’t carry over to estate gifts. The Stanford Social Innovation Review reports that fewer than 6% of Americans include a charitable bequest in their estate plan. Why is this? Most people do not know how to give through their estate plan and they are not asked.

The key takeaway here is to proactively talk about Legacy Giving so church members understand what it is and how to make a gift through their estate.

2. Make it a Ministry of Stewardship 

Most churches spend some resources in equipping members to understand Christian financial planning for debt and household budgets. But many leave the more complex topic of estate planning to the individuals to do on their own. Most people think it is too difficult and neglect the opportunity.

Without proper estate planning, higher court costs leave less to give to family or the church. The church can help members understand how to be good stewards through the strategic allocation of their assets. With the right guidance, estate planning can be less formidable and made easier. That is where the Tennessee Baptist Foundation (TBF) comes in. We will work closely with churches to develop a Legacy Ministry and with individuals to help them get their estate plans complete. When churches team with the TBF, it’s a win-win!  

We have a great resource for churches: 6 Reasons Estate Planning Conversations Should Start in the Church. Download the ebook today to learn more about this topic.

Empower your church to make a Kingdom impact through their estates. The TBF is ready to help your church enhance your ministry through Planned Giving. Give us a call at (615) 371-2029 and we can get started today!

6 reasons estate planning conversations should start in the church
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Please note that the advice offered in this article is not intended to be construed as tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice for the reader. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.