Secret Hill$ong briefing on giving


Transcript of Hill$ong lead pastor Joel A’Bell from video…


“Watch this.

This guy predicted our attendance based on our follow-ups, and he was out by 80 people.

31,000 people, he was out by 80, and he predicted it off the systems we’ve created of following people up. That’s what he did.

We’re in the middle of trying to predict our future attendance, not because we can guess because we know the time of the year, but based on the work that people are doing behind the scenes.

So here is something that he put together following … this is so we can go through this and make sense of it.

This is a challenge. This is what I presented to our staff at our staff retreat.

As of May 2010, the average weekly giving – I’m, we’re being quite vulnerable with you guys today – as of May 2010, average weekly giving in the last 12 months had been maintaining its course at approximately $62 per person, per month. OK?

Fast forward 9 months, as of February 2011, we had been contacting an average of 18% of all new people and new Christians in the week following their first time at Hillsong Church. Only 18%. This is when we started to wrestle in these things.

Now look forward again another eleven months, and in January 2012 now, the average weekend attendance growth over the previous 12 months was only 2.5%. Allright?

Now watch what happens. In September 2010 – we’re going back to 2010, we’ve got to keep these days in mind – 2010, ’11 and ’12. Let’s go back to 2010, in September, tithes and offerings per person, per month hits an eight-month high of $64.80 per person, per month. And it begins to rise.

Let’s again go back and check on follow-ups nine months later after that – so now we’re back in 2011 – and the percentage of new people contacted in their first weeks reaches a 21-month high of now 18.7%. And it begins to rise.

Let’s see now how the attendance is doing eleven months after this in 2012.

As of June 2012, last year, growth in weekend attendance average marches to a 21 month high of 6.6%. Don’t forget our goal is 7, right, that’s what we’re trying to grow by, and it begins to rise.

This is a good thing. In the nine months following October 2010, the average tithes and offerings grew every single month to a high of $81.60 per person, per month, a growth of 24% in tithes and offerings per person.

When you look at that, afterwards, after tithes and offerings went up, in the nine months following that 2011 July, the percentage of new people we contacted for the first time grew every single month to a high of 25%.

And you look at the nine months after that in 2012, the average attendance grew every single month to a high in March of nearly 29,000 people – a growth of almost 16%.

Watch what happens. This is what it looks like. These are the graphs that we’re talking about.

The top blue line is tithes and offerings. The next one down is our follow-ups. The bottom one, attendance.

So if you look at  the line… there’s a black line that goes up, OK? That’s … it’s kind of rising up and the arrow across is the nine months. And if you look at the sliding scale, up again,  that’s nine months later, and you go across again – eleven months later .. and then the slide up.

For us, what we’ve discovered is that when people start giving, this is what a convinced attender of a church looks like. Someone who doesn’t just attend, but starts to lift their heart.

We already know as pastors that attendance comes before giving. And we also know that giving leaves before attendance.

When someone’s on their way out of the church, what stops first is their giving.

So if you have a thousand people in church and you’re fairly static and there’s not a whole lot of new people coming in to church, your offerings start going down .. you can pretty much expect there’s a walkout’s about to happen. The hearts have already left. The feet are next.

We know those kind of things, most pastors know those kinds of things.

Here’s what we’ve been able to correlate.

That the tithes and offerings is an indication of a person’s heart towards the ministry.

Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be.”

So once a person puts their treasure, tithes, into the local church, their heart is joining.

Once their heart joins, their hand is next.

That means that people’s involvement goes up. That means people start saying, ‘what can I now do, what can I do next?’

‘I’ve already given, I’m tithing, I’m becoming a convinced member of your church, I’m looking for somewhere else to get involved’. And the area that lots of people get involved is they start loving people in church, start being hospitable to people in church, start serving people in church, and that follow-up process – whether you have an actual assimilation process or not – if your church is healthy and people’s hearts are connected, they look after one another. They love each other.

A system just helps people do what they do naturally. A church that doesn’t engage with their heart is not going to love each other. You won’t find it very hospitable if people don’t give. If people give, they trust. Their heart’s there. If their heart’s there they start loving one another.

All we’ve done is to write a system that helps manage what people already want to do willingly.

So heart goes up, which is an indicator of tithes and offerings. Then their hand goes up and says, ‘how can I serve?’ Which automatically involves assimilation of new people and your attendance lifts.”








10 thoughts on “Secret Hill$ong briefing on giving

  1. I think there is definitely a connection between the heart and giving.

    Interestingly the expression of the Body I am part of encourages giving but they don’t have an offering or pressurise people to give during the service.

    You can just give via internet or you can hand in an envelope with cash at the welcome desk. From the one single talk the pastor has given about giving in almost every single month he showed the giving has exceeded the budget requirements.

    I actually feel more like giving to something where I am NOT BEING CONSTANTLY ASKED FOR MONEY because I think it is worthwhile and they are doing good work for the Lord (I know some Christians would give me a severe rapping over the knuckles for saying that). I actually give more consistently now I don’t feel like I am being berated about it and being guilted into tithing every single week. It seems like it is coming more out of a heart of love for God and his people. It’s an area I am still working on.

    I also see things more as stewardship – how am I handling 100% of what is given to me? Not just 10% or whatever? I read some interesting thoughts by a man called Rick Dunham who recently featured in Eternity magazine

    I must read a bit more of his material sometime.

    I think it’s good to discuss these heart issues. it’s a very fraught one for many of us esp as we came from churches with a distorted perspective on this.


  2. I can see how this could have been taken out of context – but having been in Hillsong it actually just creeps me out.


  3. That old chestnut – these guys could be earning more out of church. Rubbish. Very easy to delude themselves what business hot shots they are in a closed environment of their own making and the cult of personality that environment can breed. Check out the amount of churches that have gone belly up cos some Pastor fancied himself as a businessman – or had delusions that he was really a CEO of some type. I heard one wealthy Pastor windbagging about how he would be on 2 or 3 x what he earns (and he clearly has a very, very comfortable life from public speaking & his church etc) he’d only ever been a gov employee before getting into church. No real world experience per se, typical of career christians who’ve spent their adult working lives in churches and don’t know any better, sealed in their own private bubble where the modus operandi is the blowing of vast amounts of sunshine up said Pastor’s posterior.


  4. OldDude

    I don’t think the presentation was saying there is no need for God. It was more of how to focus what God is already doing in your congregation. Getting people active in volunteering seems healthy. Churches have always needed leadership who teach God’s word and consider what church activities they should and shouldn’t be doing. That was happening in the early church and is still necessary now.

    The inference that the agenda is about more money seems cynical. I don’t know anyone on a church staff who couldn’t earn more money doing something else.


  5. Lionfish

    This video is only a part of the presentation. The main point is that if you engage your existing congregation in volunteer teams, then you grow because you are loving new people better.

    1) Money was only talked about as an indicator of heart towards the church mission. The subject is church growth, and to a pastor that means more believers in heaven.

    2a) Not everyone tithes in a church. I don’t know if $65 is high or low across an entire church. The point of the number was only as an indicator of a church member becoming “convinced” of the church mission. I think the point was if someone is convinced (“heart”) of the church mission, then they want to volunteer their “hand”. Helping people to meet and work along side other volunteers helps them get to know each other more, love each other more, and care for new people more, which may result in more visitors staying. In short, if you want to increase your attendance, then increase your volunteers. Again, to pastors, the audience of this presentation, church growth mean more people in heaven.

    2b) I’ve never heard of a Hillsong “partnership agreement”, though I’m not an expert in Hillsong history. It’s not a current practise. I believe Sydney CLC had partnership agreements under Frank Houston before becoming Hillsong Sydney. It’s not a part of the city any more.

    3) This presentation was not a confidential leadership briefing. It looks like a Hillsong Conference 2013 elective. Probably open to any of the 20,000 people who attended.


  6. That is really interesting – but we always new that these guys would have number monkeys grinding out the numbers in formula driven MS Excel worksheets didn’t we? … they would have analysed the data and really understand the income drivers.

    My analysis:

    1) To be fair – money is a hard and sensitive topic which needs to be talked about in any Church.

    1) Got to give credit to the leaders – it must be very stressful having to rely on huge amounts of voluntary giving to maintain the mega-structure that there have created.

    2) The nominal amount given per attendee per month (say $65) eVen if that is spread across children and students etc. – that does not equate to a tithe plus an offering for each attendee.

    When people sign their ‘partnership agreements’ they agree to tithe – there must be many people feeling like they have a burden on their shoulders of not living up (whilst pretending too) live up to Hillsong standards.

    3) The major indicator that peoples hearts are no longer in it – is not a fall in offerings. It is one of their own people sitting in a confidential Leadership briefing and filming the entire briefing – before releasing it to the Internet!


  7. Ah, but they prefer the formula people==money

    And the formula says you get more people (thus money) by following up on the new attendees and keeping the rest happy and feeling loved.

    No need for God in their formula.


  8. And while their treasure is in your hands, your system you wrote will ensure it will bring more treasure into your hands..

    Hey I thought that Jesus was talking of people having their treasure built up in heaven, and not on this earth. Talking of christians belonging to the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of this earth.

    Maybe they are arrogant enough to sprout that their church is the kingdom of heaven.


  9. Empathy for the Sub-Taught? Or Their Sub-Taught Teachers?
    By Robert Winkler Burke
    Book #10 of In That Day Teachings

    Any empathy for the sub-taught,
    From leaders in religion who sub-teach them?
    Any concern for those taught not,
    High, but to see NOT one, but no shenanigan?

    No empathy from rube-making,
    Dupe-making, fake-God-making, dishonest brokers?
    To want to stop sheep-breaking,
    And begin general awakening… is BAD, say jokers?

    With them, Up is exactly down!
    With them, Down is exactly up!
    Correct shepherds? It garners frown!
    This closed fold lets in: just wolf pup!

    No, there’s absolutely no empathy for the sub-taught,
    In truth, the shepherds in charge want you to feel sorry for themselves!
    Unspoken, they know by whom their souls’ bought!
    In truth, weep for them! Unspeakably, they’re bound to gates of hells!

    It’s why they hate, they hate! so much,
    Teachings of In That Day!
    It hurts real bad to wake from such,
    Empathy! Empathy, anyway!

    Today’s Christian leaders are so obviously,
    Yet hidden-to-their-own-eyes, they are most baby-like!
    In That Day Teachings strike obnoxiously,
    To them, impossible to grow up, they’re so unladylike.

    LORD, have tender mercy on us all!
    Whether trying to improve or cling to and keep: bad Christian-dom!
    Let empathy be in, and rule o’er all,
    Christ-in-You comes in the smart, reductio ad absurdum, not dumb!

    Ah, but the existent wolves say, We see too!
    We see this rebuking tome, and its unlikeable, repulsive author, logs in eyes!
    And this would relieve them if God was too,
    As them: progressive, sub-taught, relative, equivocating, a big buyer of lies!

    So that’s the bet,
    Is God superlatively, brazen-unquestionably and powerfully prevaricate-ive?
    Or: Reverse Set,
    In That Day Teachings say, Choose carefully now, that Christ-in-You: live!

    So choose you now your empathy,
    For the sub-taught and their miserable sub-teachers stuck in tar patch of lies!
    Or the Devil’s complex symphony,
    One brain-scape unspeakably bad, the other: In That Day, removing disguise.


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