As a pastor, the beginning of the year is an important time to assess your church’s health and begin casting a vision for the upcoming year.
One of the areas it’s important to look at your church’s giving habits. Nothing really demonstrates ongoing spiritual growth like an increase in open-handed giving. It’s good to take some time to look at the previous year’s giving opportunities and begin to gauge your church’s giving trends.
To make this easier, it’s important to keep good detailed notes. For example, if you have a missionary speaker that you take a special offering for, keep track of information like:
- What was attendance like that day?
- How much came in?
- Did this offset the regular offering that day?
If you find that, all things being equal, that your church has stalled out in giving or has actually started making some steps backward, it’s time to consider what boundaries they’re experiencing in giving.
Here are five common giving obstacles churches experience:
1. Does the church have historical baggage?
I’ve been in some churches that have suffered under poor leadership. One church had a pastor that was embezzling funds to buy himself toys. There’s no question that situations like this can make people ambivalent, if not hostile, toward the idea of giving.
If your church has a history of poor money management, it needs to be addressed head-on. And trust will need to be rebuilt by going over the top with financial transparency.
Discover the comprehensive guide to reducing barriers to giving and nurturing healthy generosity. Download the free ebook, Teaching Your Church to Give, today.
2. Are you teaching about giving enough?
A lot of churches avoid teaching about generosity regularly. When they do teach about giving, they might experience some negativity and pushback and avoid it again. Eventually, they only talk about giving when there’s a need or a budgetary shortfall and this only reinforces the idea that the church just wants/needs money.
It’s important to have a regular schedule for teaching about giving and, more importantly, it’s imperative that the value of giving is communicated clearly in your vision. (And for more on this, check out tactics #3 and #20 on this list of practical ways to increase church giving.)
3. You’ve never communicated expectations
I’m not suggesting that a church must dictate how much someone is to give, but it is important to communicate that followers of Jesus are generous. We need to communicate that how you treat your possessions and resources is a clear measurement of your spiritual temperature. And that healthy Christians are expected to be giving Christians.
4. You haven’t communicated a vision
Study after study shows that Christians tend to give as much as their secular counterparts. But I think there are plenty of Christians that would be willing to give a lot more if they were able to catch their leader’s vision.
When we are able to clearly communicate a plan for the future and people can see how their giving plays into it, they tend to be a lot more generous. So if you don’t have a vision, you really need to develop one. If you do, ask around and see if you’re communicating it well.
5. You don’t celebrate their generosity
When was the last time you communicated a heartfelt thank you for the money that was collected in a special offering? When was the last time you had a party just to celebrate the giving that happened in the previous year? In Deuteronomy 14, the Israelites were instructed to make a celebration meal of their tithes. If they could celebrate mandatory giving, surely we can celebrate voluntary giving, right?
Maybe people don’t give at the level they should, but maybe it’s okay to encourage them where they’re at? It’s tough to make baby steps in any activity and to feel browbeaten because it’s not good enough. I think people are more apt to try harder when their attempts are recognized and praised.
Time to Do Some Digging
When it comes to giving, these reasons are only the tip of the iceberg. If you feel your church is struggling in the area of giving, it’s time to figure out what the hurdles are. Maybe it’s time to set up a SurveyMonkey account and survey your congregation. When your congregation is able to communicate anonymously with you, you might be surprised what you find out!
For more on how you can nurture sustainable, healthy generosity at your church, download the free ebook, Teaching Your Church to Give, today!