This is the final post in this series on accelerating giving in your church. If you missed the first two posts in this series, click or tap on the links below:
In this final post, I wrap up the last two questions you and your team should work through together to build a strong culture of generosity in your church.
Questions #5: Are we nailing the offering time?
Don’t underestimate how important this is. I spent 18 years on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. I did major donor development. I did a lot of fundraising. Of course, in order to do that work, I had to go to the people who funded the work that I was a part of, writing letters, visiting. In the church, the people that fund the work of our ministry come to us every single week and sit down to listen to what we have to say, and yet we squander those opportunities. Especially on the weekend when we do the offering. For so many of us, that offering time is just an afterthought: “Now’s the time in our service when the blah, blah, blahs will come forward. We’re going to continue to worship God by giving back to him a portion of what God has entrusted to us.” Typically, there is some rote language that you do without thinking about it.
I want to really encourage you to take the time to make the offering moments in your service as impactful, as powerful as they can possibly be. It’s so critical that you use those moments to tell stories, to share scripture, to use statistics to give people access to what they need to understand, to teach them about generosity and stewardship and giving instead of just collecting an offering. Use the offering as a moment to inspire, to encourage, to inform, and to engage people in this area of generosity and stewardship.
One of the cool ways to do it, believe it or not (again this is a tip I picked up from Dave Ferguson at Community Christian) is to do a monthly theme. At Community Christian their offering time (they call it the “giving back to God time,” which I think is kind of cool) might go something like this: “Hey, all during the month of April as we get to our giving back to God time, we’re talking about how giving produces faith in the giver.” Then maybe they’ll share a verse. Maybe the next week, they’ll show a story of someone whose giving helped grow them in their faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe another time, there’ll be some sort of an opportunity for people to give and step out in faith. They keep reiterating and rehearsing the faith theme each week during that month. Then the next month, they do a new theme.
That may seem kind of cheesy, but I think it’s brilliant because what it does is it allows you to really intentionally focus your people on some specific things. The best thing you can do for your offering is to evaluate it. Set somebody up in the back of your auditorium with an iPhone or a camera, record what’s happening during the offering. If you’re a multisite campus, record it on all of your campuses. Put together a loop, get all the people in the room that are involved in the offering or who help planning the worship service and start playing those offering times and evaluate them, give them a grade. “Wow, that one was really, really good. It was engaging. I was encouraged. I was inspired.” Next one. “Yes, that one was terrible. There was nothing there, blah, blah, blah.” You know that’s happening sometimes. Here’s the point: the offering time will never get better if you don’t intentionally focus on making it better.
Question #6: Are our staff and leaders growing in giving?
Generous churches are led by generous leaders. If you have people in your church in leadership positions who are not intentionally growing in this area of generosity and stewardship in giving, you got problems. Here’s what it looks like. Your lead pastor gets up there and gives a great message on generosity and stewardship and giving. Maybe it’s challenging, maybe it’s encouraging. No matter what it’s right out of the Bible, and teaches a great message. People go to their small group that night, maybe there’s a new person in the small group and the new person sort of confides in the group, “I got to be honest with you. I don’t really like it when pastors talk about giving. I don’t really like when they talk about money.”
Now, is it wrong for a brand-new small group member to say that? No. In fact, I’m glad they said it. I think that’s great, get it out there. That’s how they’re feeling, right? What’s wrong is when the small group leader says “Yes, me too.” That’s the problem.
Or when the staff members’ enthusiasm for this issue is so obviously not where it needs to be, or the elder or the deacon or the trustee or the board member. Sometimes what they’re saying is that they’re with you, but they’re not really with you in their actual giving and that will undermine the work of your church in this area. Generous churches are led by generous givers. When there’s a problem with generosity, when there’s a problem with giving in the church, it is often a result of a leader or leaders who are not also growing in this journey of giving.
Now I’m not talking about some specific amount of money that they have to be giving at. That may be your church’s policy. All staff, for example, have to tithe to our church. If that’s your church’s policy, I have no quarrel with that. But what I’m suggesting is that the more important issue is: Are the people, are the leaders in your church, are they growing in their giving or are they stuck? And do you know it, is someone looking at it? If you’re looking at it, is someone having a conversation with them about it? Is someone inviting them to step up? I’m not talking about a “Got you” conversation. I’m talking about an encouraging conversation that might be helpful for them.
You can create a culture of generosity and stewardship and giving in your church if you will tackle these questions with your team. If you’ll lean in and focus some time and energy on these topics, I know you can do it.