Churches have fallen on tough times. Giving is down. Way down. From established churches to startup churches, it seems like everyone is reeling from the economy. With lost jobs or slashed incomes, churchgoers just aren’t giving. Thousands of churches are experiencing budget shortages and major cutbacks. What can churches do to increase tithing?
1. Talk about giving.
Church leaders are understandably hesitant to talk about giving. After all, it’s almost like making a personal appeal for more money. According to one denominational survey, 50% of church attendees thought that money and giving should not be preached about. Like other crucial issues in the life of the church, however, money needs to be discussed.
The way in which you address this issue is important. Few preachers want to come across as begging, nagging, or wheedling for more money. There is a gracious way to explain what the Bible says, and then allow the Holy Spirit to do his work.
2. Explain the church’s financial situation.
In addition to explaining God’s Word on the subject, people need to hear how the church is doing financially. Facts motivate. As people understand the situation, they will be more inclined to contribute. If your church is experiencing financial difficulty, tell them about it. If the church can cut back in some areas, tell them how. Allow people to see the church’s budget. Be open about pastoral salaries. An atmosphere of openness and honesty will encourage people to give.
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3. Start finance classes or small groups.
Even though we live in an affluent culture, there are many of us who don’t know how to manage our funds. Many are addicted to debt. There is a way to educate people about finances, enhance spiritual growth, and free them to give — all in one fell swoop. Education. In addition to a preaching ministry that deals with giving, consider starting elective classes that cover the topic in detail. In classes or small groups, people can get busy with workbooks, assignments, reading, and interaction. Because of the nonthreatening and collaborative environment of a small group, it is far more likely that people will respond favorably to financial instruction. As families get a grip on their money management, they will learn the importance of tithing. By having a clear view of finances, they will then be free to give to the church.
4. Hold a free financial workshop with financial advisors.
Depending upon the size or location of your church, there may be finance professionals who attend. If your church has an accountant, a certified financial planner, a knowledgeable businessperson, or a finance professional, consider having them deliver workshops on money. Before asking someone to help, please make sure that their personal testimony and lifestyle is exemplary. Also be sure that they realize the importance of giving themselves. Hosting a free “how to” workshop on managing money is a great way to help people. Usually, people understand that they should give to the church. The reason why they don’t give is they feel like they can’t due to their other financial pressures. Once they establish a budget and realize that they can and should give, they will. Giving comes from a cheerful heart and financial freedom. Basic financial workshops hosted by the church can help people fulfill their responsibility to give. (If there is no one qualified to teach a financial workshop, you may consider asking a local financial advisor to offer a pro bono session for the church.)
5. Have a Financial Focus Week.
One way to improve giving is to have one week dedicated to the theme. Christian radio stations and charity organizations often hold fundraising events or weeklong fund drives. While the church need not have “fundraising” events per se, it is perfectly legitimate to set goals, encourage giving, and make it a big deal. The extra incentive and attention of a financial focus week may be just what people need to encourage them to give.
6. Seek outside help for financial education.
The church is blessed with several organizations that offer materials, lectures, and courses on money management. These groups make it their business to inform people about their finances and encourage them to give. Here are three well-known financial ministries that you can contact for outside help with your church giving:
- Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com)
- Crown Financial Ministries (www.crown.org)
- Brian Kluth – Maximum Generosity (www.kluth.org)
7. Use a pledge campaign.
Many churches have found that a Pledge Campaign is a powerful means of encouraging giving. In a pledge campaign, church members determine an amount that they can regularly contribute to the church, usually on a monthly basis. Using special envelopes, a pledge card, or some other means, they will then resolve to give to the church that specific amount each month. The power of a pledge campaign is that it simplifies things for people. They determine what they will give, and simply contribute that amount each month. Pledge campaigns are also memorable. They are motivational. They can even be fun. A pledge campaign can be an encouragement to your people, not to mention a great way to increase giving.
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8. Offer quality.
At the risk of sounding secular, there is one important, indispensable, and invaluable means to grow your church offering: Give people something of quality. If people are giving to the church, they expect to get something in return—something worth coming for. If you are careless about the ministry, producing shoddy sermons, not visiting shut-ins, allowing church programs to be in disarray, letting the church grounds become overgrown, failing to spend time with church volunteers, and poorly managing church finances, don’t expect to have a church of givers. We are accustomed to “get what we pay for.” If people contribute to the church, they expect some type of return on their investment. Just as churchgoers are fulfilling their spiritual responsibility to give their money, the church leadership must fulfill their responsibility to minister diligently. While the church ought never to degenerate into a people-pleasing social club, it should also never skimp on diligent, accurate, delivery of quality spiritual help. A church with a quality ministry can expect increased giving from their people.
9. Invite a consultant.
There are ministry consultants who, as part of their services, will analyze a church’s situation and giving in order to make recommendations for improvement. The church can’t function without funds. These ministry coaches or consultants give pastors and church leaders a powerful outside perspective, pointing out ways that churchgoers and attendees can be better encouraged to give.
10. Make it easy to give.
In a final catch-all category, make it easy for people to give. It shouldn’t be hard for people to contribute to the church. Here are some simple suggestions:
- Use online giving. With a secure site and a way to accept card payments, the church can make it easy for a lot more people to give. Many people today pay exclusively using cards or online transactions. In response, one third of churches now offer online means for contributions to the church. If your church does not provide a way to give online, make sure you implement this into your church website.
- Pass the plate. Don’t be afraid to pass an offering plate. Many seeker sensitive churches have obliterated all signs of financial contribution in the fear of offending people. What we fail to realize is that the church is a place for believers. Believers are commanded to give. Giving is an act of worship. Go ahead an use an offering plate. It makes it easy for people to give.
- Make the offering a meaningful time. The offering isn’t just one thing to get out of the way in the order of a service. It is important. Encourage people to give worshipfully. Play music. Project a verse on the screen. Make it a focused time of reverence. You may even with to preface the offering time with a short devotional or a Scripture verse on the theme of giving or generosity.
In conclusion, don’t be greedy, but don’t be afraid to tackle the issue of giving to the church. The ten tips above will help, but the most important thing you can do is to pray. God never suffers from financial shortcomings, and He will provide for your church the necessary finances. Ask Him.
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