Help People in Your Church Learn How to Give
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 4 Apr
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Nelson Searcy & Jennifer Dykes Hudson's recent book, Maximize: How to Develop Extravagant Givers in Your Church, (Baker Books, 2010).
If every person in your congregation supported your church financially in generous ways, think of all your church could do to reach and serve people for Jesus. It would be great, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, however, many Christians don’t give generously. The average churchgoer currently gives just 2.56 percent of his or her income – much less than the biblical tithe of 10 percent. As a result, many churches are struggling to afford the costs of doing the ministry work that God has called them to do.
But if you teach people in your church how to give, your church can have the financial resources it needs to do its vital work, and your churchgoers can grow into the generous people that God wants them to become.
Here’s how you can help people in your church learn how to give:
Don’t hesitate to talk about money. While it’s true that some people in your church may become uncomfortable if you discuss money matters, you shouldn’t shy away from talking about the importance of supporting your church financially through generous giving. Keep in mind that Jesus talked a lot about money in the Bible because it’s crucial for people to have healthy attitudes about money for them to be spiritually healthy. Trust that as you faithfully teach people about the importance of financial giving, the Holy Spirit will work in their lives.
Explain that giving equals growing. Help the people in your church understand that they can’t really grow spiritually unless they learn how to give generously. Jesus often stressed the importance of people releasing their hold on money so it won’t derail them spiritually, and learning to trust God and help others more by giving money away. Stewardship is essential for discipleship, since people’s attitudes toward money strongly affect their level of spiritual maturity.
Help people see how God Himself models giving. God has given people the greatest gift possible: salvation. God is giving by nature and loves to give good gifts to the people He created and loves. Encourage the people in your congregation to be alert to the many fresh blessings that God gives them every day. The more that people notice how God is constantly giving to them, the more their gratitude will motivate them to respond to His generosity by answering His call to give to support their church.
Create a culture of generosity in your church. If your church doesn’t invest much in resources to help people grow, that culture of scarcity will promote an attitude of scarcity in people’s minds when you ask them to give financially to the church. But if you create a culture of generosity in your church by giving people plenty of resources to support them, the generous attitude that you model will encourage them to be generous with their monetary donations to support the church. So give to the people who attend your church, in ways such as passing out free books or CDs to first-time visitors and providing free breakfasts or lunches for volunteers either before or after the worship services.
Turn a first-time giver into a regular giver. People who haven’t given money to your church before may be struggling with fear about giving money away. You can help them loosen their grip on money and open their hearts to God by encouraging them to give to the church for the first time, and then keep on giving. Let people know that your church’s ministry is supported by its members, talk about how giving will help people grow spiritually, and give people information about their various options for how to support your church financially (from putting checks in an offering plate to donating online). Teach on stewardship during worship services at least four times each year. Have people who currently give to your church tell stories in worship services at least twice per year about how giving has helped them grow, so people who haven’t yet given can be inspired by their testimonies. Make the logistics of giving easy for people in your church, such as by giving people advance notice that an offering is about to be taken so they have time to get their gifts ready. Follow up with people after they give for the first time, to thank them for giving and encourage them to make giving a new habit. Stay connected with them, sending them financial giving statements and expressing gratitude. Present an annual giving challenge during a worship service to encourage everyone who attends your church to give regularly over a set period of time. Have small group leaders throughout your church emphasize the importance of regular financial giving, and ask people who want to become new church members to sign a covenant agreeing to give regularly to support your church’s ministry work.
Turn a regular giver into a tither. After people have started to give to your church on a regular basis, encourage them to follow God’s command to give a tithe – 10 percent of their income – to support the church. Show people how being obedient to God’s command to tithe is joyful act of worship that shows Him that they love and trust Him. Explain to people that if they grow as givers, the church can grow in its ability to do God’s work, making it possible for God’s purposes to be fully reached in their own lives and in their church community. Make sure that your pastor, staff members, and volunteer church leaders are all tithing so they can set the right example for others in your congregation. Remember that growing in giving is a vital part of growing spiritually, so don’t settle for less than urging everyone in your church to keep growing in generosity.
Turn a tither into an extravagant giver. Help people who faithfully tithe learn how to give sacrificially beyond their tithe, building a lifestyle of generosity that will keep expanding their souls and expanding God’s kingdom work on through your church. Challenge people to give extravagantly during special giving opportunities, such as capital campaigns to add onto your church’s building or the annual Christmas offering near the end of each year. Let them hear personal testimonies from others who have given extravagantly and experienced God’s blessings through their generosity.
Adapted from Maximize: How to Develop Extravagant Givers in Your Church, copyright 2010 by Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.
Nelson Searcy served as the director of The Purpose Driven Community at Saddleback Church before starting The Journey Church of the City in New York City in 2002. He and his 1,200-member church appear routinely on lists such as The 50 Most Influential Churches and The 25 Most Innovative Leaders. His newsletter for pastors and church leaders, Church Leader Insights, now reaches more than 40,000 subscribers and continues to grow by hundreds each month. Searcy lives in New York City.
Jennifer Dykes Henson is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has served as a writer/producer and ministry consultant to organizations across the East Coast. Prior to moving to New York, Jennifer worked with Dr. Charles Stanley as the manager of marketing communications for In Touch Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.