The number one person in the church responsible for cultivating generous giving is you—if you are the lead/senior pastor of your church. I am a pastor who has grappled with that truth for years. I hate talking about money. I used to purposefully stay in the dark about money. With all the caricatures of churches and money floating through people’s minds, I sought to avoid it at all costs.
However, I came to the place where I saw the fault in my approach. Our church, with a mission and vision that I (and many others) was passionate about, was woefully under-resourced, especially for a church our size. I hoped and prayed people would just “get it” and eventually we would become a generous church. I soon learned this was not a wise approach, and, in fact, recognized it as abdicating my leadership responsibility as a pastor.
In recent years, I have worked hard to change the culture of my church. We have a long way to go, but we are changing. The church has become more financially generous. The following four things are what I (we) have incorporated into our regular rhythms—easily accessible to others—that could help you cultivate more generous giving in your church.
1. Talk about giving more frequently in your sermons.
This is something I struggled mightily to overcome. To get better at this does not require preaching about it every week. It does not require multiple teaching series per year over it. Instead, you can add it more frequently into your application points in your sermons. Find ways to teach it in environments other than Sunday services. Be sure to teach on it weekly before or during the offering time. When celebrating stories of change, baptisms, reconciled relationships, remind people that their generous and faithful giving allow these ministries to happen. Always look for ways to help people connect their giving to biblical obedience and ministry successes.
2. Write hand-written notes to first time givers.
When someone gives for the first time, do you ever reach out to them? Is there any encouragement or thanks offered to them? This is where most churches miss incredible opportunities. If someone gives your church money that they have earned and worked for, that is to not only be faithfully stewarded well, but it is to be received with gratitude.
We do this at my church by thanking them. I get a list every week of the names of people who gave for the first time. I then send them a hand-written note thanking them for their generosity. I tell them that because of folks like them who give, our church is able to minister to people and fulfill our mission. I assure them we take stewarding every penny very serious. This has been an invaluable tool for us. First, we mean it. Second, the people who give and receive these notes are very thankful for them.
3. Set up online giving and encourage more people to utilize it.
One of the greatest ways you increase more faithful and consistent giving is to encourage people to set it up online. There are many tools available to receive online donations. The best options allow for people to set their giving up as reoccurring. If your church is like mine, then you have people who miss 1 or 2 weeks out of the month. Some make up their giving the following weeks when they are at church, but many do not.
With online, reoccurring giving in place, it does not matter if they were there or remember. Their giving comes out automatically. You would be surprised at the number of people who love this option. Most families bank online and pay their bills online already. Having this available can help increase and cultivate more consistent giving.
4. Meet regularly with your wealthy and generous church attenders.
We are not to show favoritism to people because of their financial wealth or generosity. However, there are people in your church, and mine, whom the LORD has blessed with wealth and/or a generous spirit. They are the folks who can fund that new project, mission trip, building renovation, church van, food pantry, and the list could go on.
I try to meet once per week with a significant financial donor in our church to help them to see and understand the vision of the church, and what things we are working on and have coming down the pike. I do not ask them for money every time we meet. In fact, most times I am simply thanking them for their generosity to our church. I am letting them know we do not take it for granted. We are grateful. These meetings are a great way to build relationships with those the LORD has blessed with wealth and generous hearts for the purpose of building his church.
I hope these tips can be used by you to help cultivate more financial generosity in your church. They have tremendously helped mine.
Featured image credit ccpixs.com.