Why This Year’s Giving Tuesday Could Be the Most Important One Yet
This year’s Giving Tuesday has the potential to radically reshape your church’s approach to giving and generosity.
Following the rampant consumerism that’s come to define the aftermath of Thanksgiving – which now includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the holiday shopping season – Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 with one simple goal: Encourage goodness and generosity around the world.
Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (December 1st, 2020), and this year’s Giving Tuesday may prove to be one of the most impactful and vital Giving Tuesdays in the day’s short history. And, as Giving Tuesday approaches, members of your congregation will be inundated with pitches from various nonprofit organizations and charities – and there’s no reason your church shouldn’t also broach the subject.
In the midst of a global pandemic, contentious election season, and economic recession, many pastors may feel hesitant to talk about generosity and charity to their congregations this year. But the leadup to Giving Tuesday presents a crucial opportunity to discuss the importance of generosity – perhaps now more than ever.
If Not You, Then Who?
Giving Tuesday coincides with a very important giving window for most churches – November and December. Many ministries rely on tithes, gifts, and donations given during the last months of the year to meet their financial goals and prep for next year’s budget.
But, in 2020, it’s understandable why some church leaders may not feel comfortable encouraging generosity among their congregations. The economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic has put an undue financial strain on millions of Americans.
However, it’s precisely for these reasons that now is the time to reframe your congregation’s mindset on charitable giving.
Throughout Scripture, the writers of the Bible make it clear that generosity should be one of the distinguishing characteristics of our Christain witness. While secular culture peddles the false promise that the meaning of life can be found via the relentless accumulation of wealth, security, and material comfort, the Christian worldview recognizes that the money and resources we’ve been entrusted with by our Creator are not our own, but instead tools we can use to usher God’s Kingdom into our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
Therefore, you shouldn’t allow cultural taboos on speaking about personal finances to prevent you from proclaiming this scriptural truth from the pulpit. Because if a congregation isn’t receiving a biblical worldview on money, finances, and generosity from their church leaders, they’re undoubtedly being discipled and influenced on those topics by the non stop barrage of secular messages and viewpoints from the surrounding culture.
Let’s Talk About Money
As Giving Tuesday approaches, you’ll need to start laying the foundation for fruitful and open conversations about tithing and generosity. As such, it’s probably wise to begin incorporating topics centered around biblical stewardship and giving in to your preaching schedule.
But one of the biggest mistakes you can make when talking about tithing and generosity is incorrectly assuming that every person in your church gives for the same reasons or is motivated by the same appeals. Even when speaking from a generational perspective, you need to be aware of differences in giving habits and preferences.
For example, while older members of your congregation may give out of a sense of institutional loyalty, younger congregation members place a heavier emphasis on transparency and impact. They want to know where their money is going and how it’ll be used to make a difference.
As a result, you need to be forthcoming about the breakdown of your church’s finances. Many people don’t fully understand the complexities of a church budget, and some may cynically assume their tithes just go directly into their pastor’s pockets. But from mission trips and daycare services to facility maintenance and neighborhood outreach (and, yes, staff salaries), it’s imperative your congregation understands their giving supports an ecosystem of ministry and faithful stewardship that couldn’t exist (or thrive) without their generosity.
Gone are the days of keeping church finances under wraps or treating them like a guarded secret. Even if it means placing a line-item budget in every church bulletin or casting vision for your church’s ministry goals in the new year, don’t let Giving Tuesday pass by without your congregation having a firm grasp on your church’s current financial reality and future trajectory.
Additionally, get prepared to be real. Thousands of churches across the country are experiencing financial and logistical hardship as a consequence of the pandemic. If you’re one of those struggling churches, be open and honest about the challenges you’re currently facing. This is not the time to pretend as if everything is fine. Though it may be raw and uncomfortable, openly acknowledging financial strain can be a potent reminder that – as a church family – you’re all in this together.
Finally, you’ll need to lead by example. It’s hard (or downright impossible) to get behind a leader when they don’t appear enthusiastic about their own vision. If you’re not passionate about God’s heart for generosity, it’s going to be a tough sell for your congregation to believe otherwise. And this advice also extends to other highly-visible members of your church staff. All of you need to be bought in, and your congregation needs to see that.
Giving When Life Gets Tough
2020 has been a banner year for seismic cultural upheaval, and members of your congregation are undoubtedly feeling the pain. Some of them may have been laid off, swamped by medical debt, or have lost a loved one.
So, how do you ask people to give when times are difficult?
It’s important to keep in mind (and to remind your congregation) that Jesus doesn’t concern himself with the monetary size of someone’s generosity, but the heart and motivation behind the gift. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus praises a poor widow for giving two small coins because it represented more for her than the larger donations being made by the rich people. And in First Corinthians, the apostle Paul says you can donate everything you own to the poor, but if you don’t do it with love, it means nothing.
Also, be mindful of those who are hurting in the congregation. You might need to set aside more money for a benevolence fund to help those in need. Share stories of generosity in action. Highlight specific instances of how giving changed the lives of others. And, remember, people have more to give than money – they can give time, food, and gifts to those in need. To a hurting or financially strapped family, these can be just as (if not more) valuable than currency.
As Giving Tuesday gets closer and we shift into our end-of-year giving campaigns, we need to recognize that goodwill, charity, and generosity are more important than ever before. For many of us, 2020 has presented an unprecedented amount of challenges to overcome, and the Church has an opportunity to reflect the love of Jesus by showing the world how we care for one another in times of need.