4 Benefits of Encouraging Recurring Giving for Your Church
One of the most frequent church criticisms for digital giving is the impression that it’s somehow spiritually lacking. With the traditional passing of the plate, you have the physical act of giving and it can be done during the service which lends it an air of sanctity. It just feels more spiritual than pushing a button.
This critique is compounded when the discussion moves to setting your giving up to recur automatically. How spiritual is it to set up recurring giving and never think about it again?
I’d argue that it’s not only spiritual, but it’s also the smartest way to do it.
1. It inspires thoughtful, planned giving
As Christian leaders, we want to be discipling Christians into maturity. Generosity is a basic element in the maturity matrix of people in our care.
If someone came to me and said, “I want to learn to be a generous giver.” I’d talk to them about their income, how they generally spend their money, and encourage them to decide on a regular amount that they’re willing to give. Making the decision to give and then following through are the most important elements in the generosity matrix. The method that’s used to give is really inconsequential.
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the church in America started putting an emphasis on giving as part of the worship service alongside preaching and prayer. But now that it’s been ingrained as a cultural expression of worship, it’s hard not to sanctify the process of taking an offering.
Helping people make the choice to give, decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice, and then sharing those resources regularly is more healthy than what generally happens on Sunday morning. When we pass the plate during a service, we’re often encouraging impulsive giving and not the planned sacrifice that is the Christian ideal.
When people reach for their wallet or checkbook on Sunday morning, they’re not thinking about how much they make and how much they can afford to give. They’re thinking about how much they have right now.
And although there’s an important place for spontaneous generosity in a Christian’s life, it shouldn’t replace thoughtful, deliberate giving.
2. It makes giving part of a believer’s lifestyle
When a Christian makes generosity an essential element of their everyday life, they’ve made a huge step towards maturity. By making the choice for recurring giving, they’re elevating their giving into a tier of financial responsibility that’s usually associated with rent or debt repayment.
Giving becomes a non-negotiable aspect of their financial lifestyle. It’s no longer seen as an ambition that’s dependent upon the money being available at the end of the month, and it’s not the first thing that gets cut when money gets tight.
This doesn’t eliminate opportunities for recurring givers to grow. They still should reevaluate their giving annually to ensure that they’re consistent in their giving—or whether they’re ready to give more.
3. It removes the temptation not to give
If we expect people to make a commitment to give a percentage of their income to and then put them in the position of writing out weekly or monthly checks, they’re constantly struggling with other important and justifiable ways that their money could be spent. This legitimate temptation to hedge on their giving commitment undermines the consistent giving of many.
You might think, “Well it’s good to constantly be confronted with temptation. That’s how we learn self discipline. When we choose to honor our commitment to give in the face of other potential opportunities, that’s when we’re becoming mature.” But is that really true?
Think about it like this: For some people, the temptation to a particular vice is very strong. If they could remove some of the temptation by removing it from their path, why wouldn’t they? The ultimate goal is faithfulness, and that’s achieved by removing impediments. It’s foolhardy to think that removing the temptations and triggers to a certain vice is less godly than fighting a regular and consistent onslaught of temptation. To view the faithful as those who are strong enough to crawl over obstacles—instead of those wise enough to go around them—seems counterintuitive.
It’s the same for giving. We want someone to say, “I desire to be a faithful steward, but I know that if I don’t set it up to happen as automatically as possible, I will struggle to follow through.” That’s a follower of Jesus that recognizes the potential challenges and makes the appropriate steps to remove them.
It’s not like people who choose recurring giving have forgotten that money is being taken out of their account. It’s that they have decided to adapt to a lifestyle where giving is happening regularly and naturally. They’re not putting themselves in a position where they have to renew the decision to be a giver every week. This is a praiseworthy move.
4. It paves the way for spontaneous giving
Through recurring giving, people learn that they’re able to live comfortably and happily on less than they imagine. It isn’t too long before they realize that their giving isn’t a huge sacrifice—it’s a joy. This opens them up to acts of spontaneous generosity on top of their regular giving.
Without recurring giving, all giving feels like a spontaneous decision. When the regular act of giving tithes and offering feels like an impulsive act, it opens people up to the “I gave at the office” mindset. It makes it that much harder to respond generously to charitable opportunities.
Since the decision to give for recurrent givers has been made in the past, their first response to unexpected need isn’t “I’ve already given this week.” They can look at impromptu giving opportunities through an entirely different lens.
Removing the Barriers
In the end, we want people to discover the blessings associated with being generous. The changes associated with becoming more generous are not something we can simply explain. They need to be experienced. We should encourage any tool which will help someone transition toward becoming more charitable and generous.
If automating the process of giving helps someone become more open-handed, then by all means, let’s set people up for a for a win in this area!
Encouraging Recurring Giving
Digital giving solutions like Pushpay’s technology make setting up recurring giving painlessly simple. And churches find that encouraging this kind of giving results in more income because occasional givers become regular givers.