No pastor wants to lead a church that is financially struggling. Limited funds mean you can do less ministry and reach less people – except your church is a different kind that doesn’t pay bills. Your church is a non-profit organization because it runs and operates on the offerings (free will donations) of its members. Some churches grow early and become financially independent, many others struggle financially to meet up to basic bills and operational needs, and so improving church offerings and giving is something every growing pastor is thinking of ethical ways to do.
One of the most regular sources of income for churches is the offering – the money people give “to God” whenever they come to church. Depending on the context, some churches collect offering material things such as grains, which they can convert to resources when they need to, and others have creatively branded and given different names to offering as a way of collecting it multiple times and making people to give more. That however is topic for another day, and I am choosing not to talk about tithes today.
How Most Churches Take Offering
Regular methods of collecting offering in church expect people to give from a sense of duty or obligation. The time for giving in most services is somewhere in the first half of the program or order of service. With this system, even those coming to church for the first time give their offerings before they experience half of the service – and it assumes that they are giving from a per-conceived sense of duty; that they an amount of money they have decided to give irrespective of the need or conditions in the church and this is their default. My thought is that with this system, we can never get people giving at their optimum. Many people can give more than they do, the problem is that they do not give consciously.
Most times churches preach a mini-sermon about giving to motivate or challenge people to give more, but does it really work? It doesn’t work for me. If I am giving from a sense of default obligation, there is nothing you preach at the point of giving that will change my mind. Most times, people end up appealing to sympathy or sending people on a guilt trip as a way of making them give more. You cannot sustain that kind of giving.
A new way to consider taking and improving offering in Church.
Gratitude to God
I suggest that people should be helped to give to God from a sense of gratitude. Let them know they are giving primarily to God, but through your church or ministry, as an expression of gratitude to God for tremendously blessing them. God does not physically spend the money they give, so while people should be made to understand that the person they are giving to is God, He is not directly taking their money, they are giving it through a ministry or church. The money they are giving helps pay the bills of that ministry, enabling it to be a blessing to many more people just like they have been blessed through it today.
There is no monopoly of fertile soil
It is also important to make them understand that there are many ways and places through which they can give to God and their giving will be very valid and bear much fruits. Your church is not the only fertile soil to sow in. When you make it sound like that, genuine people know you’re a manipulator and will avoid you.
Cast and Appeal to Vision
The person taking the offering can say things like “If this ministry has blessed your life and you will like to see it bless many more people, then we invite you to give generously. The seeds sown by many others have made it possible for us to reach out to you today…” The leader can go ahead to mention a few other things that the offering does, for example they can add “…we use your offerings to pay the people who work full time for this church or ministry, we feed the poor in the neighbourhood, and we provide discipleship resources for people in difficult to reach places.”
This method may work best if the offering is taken towards the end of the service after people would have been blessed by every aspect of the service – sermon, music, impartations etc. People are likely to be more appreciative and give more generously when their lives have been directly and significantly touched, especially when the experience is still fresh. When they have just arrived or the service is just getting started, they will just give what they their default mind is programmed to give.
What you want to achieve is move people from unconscious giving to deliberate, conscious and responsive giving.
However, for these to work…
- You must ensure that your meetings really bless people consistently. You must go beyond running just conventional services to running high impact meetings every time. If your meetings don’t bless people and minister to their needs, you can’t expect them to be generous with gratitude, especially if you are tying the giving to appreciation.
- The more things your church is involved in that are kingdom oriented, the more people will be willing to give and sow into the Kingdom through your ministry. In other words, if all that your church does is about itself, i.e. you use all of your income on yourself, then your church is very narrow minded and people with real Kingdom perspectives and are entrusted with Kingdom resources would not give to and through you, unless of course you condescend to manipulation and con methods. Real generous givers give to a deep sense of purpose and vision.
- You need to periodically carry the givers and potential givers along through stories of the impact your outreaches and ministry is having. Most major givers today are driven by the impact their donations will make. Sometimes you are involved in great Kingdom projects but people aren’t aware. Vision drives giving. Let the people who give to and through your church or ministry know that they are part of something big they otherwise would not have an opportunity to be part of. You will be raising Kingdom stewards and will attract generous givers.
Be willing to share your results
You can try any of the thoughts above and tweak the way your church has been collecting offerings, be careful to measure and observe the difference it makes, and if you notice anything or have any additional thoughts on how to help pastors run better ministry by raising more money genuinely and with integrity, please feel free to comment below.