Being generous is a foundational piece of Christianity, and it applies to money as well. Unfortunately for many churches, it can be a challenge to encourage members to give. Maybe it is uncomfortable to stand in front of the church and repeatedly ask them to give above and beyond their tithes. Or maybe people are already giving so much you hate to push them to give more, even though the church may need more to continue operating smoothly.
Whatever the reason, pastors and church leadership often find themselves in the position of needing to request that people increase their giving to cover the church’s expenses. This is why it is necessary to take some time to think through strategies to encourage giving without making those sitting in the pews or watching from home feel uncomfortable.
Here are a few steps you should take to increase offerings in your church.
Clarify the difference between tithes and offerings
First of all, many Adventist churchgoers do not know the difference between a tithe and an offering. The Adventist Church has a distinct difference between these and uses these two forms of giving in very different ways. In the Adventist Church, the two specific differences between these are:
- A tithe is a fixed percentage of your income or monetary possessions. An offering is not a set amount and is not restricted to your income or monetary possessions.
- A tithe is governed by a set of church guidelines that determine how and where it is used. An offering is not.
(if you’d like to know more, read Tithes vs. Offerings: Are They Really Different?)
Once you clarify the differences, churchgoers should begin to understand that when they are giving tithes, they are supporting the church in a different manner than when they are giving offerings. Both are essential for the support of a local church, but with offerings you have a greater ability to control what the money is being given to.
Tithes have an essential impact on your local church, especially in areas of a pastor’s salary or a church’s outreach efforts. But offerings are often more specific to special church operations, such as a debt pay-off or utilities.
Sign up for online giving
The ease of giving is very important, especially with recent changes due to COVID-19. Members need to be able to give in more ways than just setting an envelope in the offering plate. They need to be able to give from home as well. Signing your church up for online giving is an essential part of making giving easier. If you need more information, read How Does Your Church Sign up for Online Giving?
Once your church is signed up for online giving, mention this during the service and before you take up tithes and offerings. Have people get out their phones and download the Adventist Giving App. Mention the availability of online giving and provide a link in your newsletter or your videos. Consistently reminding people of this ability will ensure people know it is available.
Find a specific need in your church that people can rally around
People want to know what they are giving to. Yes, they may understand that they are giving to help the church. But how are they helping the church? If you find a specific need that the church has and continually talk about this need when asking for offerings, people will be more likely to feel motivated to help.
In addition to mentioning the need, you can set goals for the church. Maybe the church wants to raise money for an expansion or pay off a debt. Create a visual reminder of where the church is at and what financial goal you are collectively working toward. This way people can see exactly how their money is helping.
Teach your church about healthy money handling
One of the most important ways to ensure people in your church are able to help the church financially is making sure they are first able to take care of themselves financially. A family who is struggling with thousands of dollars of credit card debt, drowning in an outsized mortgage, and trying to pay off a car they cannot afford isn’t going to be ready to give above and beyond.
First address how the church’s members handle money. Provide classes that train them how to handle money healthfully (including how to give healthfully) so that they have the ability to take into consideration more than just their own financial responsibilities. One financial class many churches use is Financial Peace University.
Be transparent about the church budget
Not knowing where your financial gift goes or what is being done with it is a common reason people stop giving. They want to see how their gift has had an impact. Being open and honest about a church’s finances can be uncomfortable and can cause some challenging conversations, but these are conversations that need to be had.
If a church is using money in a way that the members don’t like, the members should be the ones deciding whether this should change. They are, after all, the reason the church exists.