Giving is one of those topics that a lot of churches would rather avoid talking about. The people most likely to be inspired to give are already giving, and when you bring it up, the others feel justified in their opinion that you just want their money.
But what if the problem is our one-size-fits-all approach to giving? Once or twice a year, we hit everyone with the same giving message and hope for the same impact across the board. The truth is that when it comes to the relationship with their possessions, people are in different places—and they need to be communicated with differently.
Let’s examine three kinds of givers in your church and how we could motivate them. We could break these givers down even more, but these three buckets are an excellent place to start.
1. The Generous Giver
These are the people who have chosen to serve God over mammon. They give regularly, and as special needs and opportunities arise, they benevolently give more. These people have experienced what Luther called “the conversion of the purse.” They get it and don’t need to be hit with giving messages.
The generous giver is your secret weapon. They’re able to do what you cannot. When they talk about the joys of giving, people aren’t going to assume they have an ulterior motive. These are the people you want sharing their giving testimony during services or in a video on your website. They’re the ones you also want mentoring rigid and infrequent givers.
2. The Rigid Giver
The rigid giver has developed a very law-like relationship with giving. At some point, they felt convicted to tithe, and they’ve been giving 10 percent ever since—and not a penny more. The percentage might vary from person to person, but the very intentional and deliberate manner of giving is the same. Their mindset is “just tell me what amount I have to give to make God happy.”
This person is doing their best to be obedient to the idea of giving, but they haven’t yet discovered the joy of generosity. The goal is for this person to want to give. You want them to recognize that God is blessing them so that they can grow the kingdom. But you don’t want to shame them when they’re already trying to be compliant with the expectation as they understand it.
What they need is an “aha” moment, and this is likely going to come through friendship. This is one way that the Generous Giver can mentor the Rigid Giver. Having a right relationship with one’s belongings is part of the discipleship process, and it’s why you want mature believers to come alongside your developing members.
3. The Infrequent Giver
The title here is pretty self-explanatory. The Infrequent Giver gives when they feel moved to. They might help with a specific need, or perhaps the offering plate is coming by and they feel obligated to throw something in.
Several motivations might drive the Infrequent Giver’s behavior. They could have financial problems or be buried in debt. The issue of finances is one of constant anxiety, and no sermon is going to fix this problem. They need help. Churches should offer classes that help people deal with this tricky area. How can they budget better? What steps can they take to get out of debt? As the church demonstrates that they’re here for congregants in this area, it develops the kind of trust that Infrequent Givers need to become givers.
They could have wrong ideas about the church and money, and this is where it helps for churches to offer good teaching and demonstrate responsible financial behavior. People need to know what God expects from them, and they also need to know that what they give is being used well.
Church leaders can’t be afraid to come alongside Infrequent Givers and talk about giving patterns. They need to be willing to challenge them when necessary and talk about why it’s essential to model generosity to their children. On the flip side of that coin, leaders need to have an open-door policy regarding how the church makes financial decisions and the safeguards in place.
We need to challenge Infrequent Givers, but we also need to remove any barriers prohibiting them from trusting us.
Making it easier to give
In every case, it needs to be easier for people to give, and your church needs to align with the way people are used to giving. If you’re trying to inspire someone in their twenties to give, but you’re still prioritizing physical offerings, that’s a barrier. Make sure your digital giving solutions are getting as much attention as the offering plate.
Infrequent Givers should be challenged to sign up for recurring giving so that they’re regularly giving. They can start small and work their way up as the Spirit leads, but consistent giving is an improvement. Rigid Givers can be recurring givers and be challenged to respond to specific needs that arise with one-time gifts. Sharefaith Giving makes that easy!
When you adjust your strategy to each members’ needs, you’ll begin seeing changes in generosity across the board.