“Never make tithing about expenses. Make it about vision.”
Candidly, I’ve hesitated to write a post like this because I don’t like the potential risk of “trivializing” giving by making a simple list. Giving to Kingdom work is a profound, life changing and deeply personal process for each person in your church.
For every leader, it requires artful and prayerful leadership to inspire a congregation to give.
That said, I know how much stress pastors and church leaders carry about church finances. So my hope is that this “simple” list is helpful, encouraging, easily accessible and therefore worth the risk.
1. Never make money about expenses. Make it about vision.
People can smell desperation from a leader. When you allow your financial pressures to leak into your teaching and general announcements from the platform you receive less income, not more. Vision is what moves people to contribute financially. People work hard for their income and want to know it’s going to a Kingdom purpose greater than they can produce on their own.
2. Practice generosity personally.
Your personal giving patterns may never be of public record, but your level of generosity is inherently connected to your leadership. When giving to others is as natural as breathing, that finds its way into the DNA of your leadership and people respond accordingly. You behave differently and the congregation responds in kind.
3. Offer an online giving option.
In the last five to seven years online giving has caught tremendous traction in the local church. It fits the normal practices and patterns of your people for a great deal of their personal finances. In short, it’s easier than remembering to write a check and carry it to church. Don’t stop receiving your physical offering, but I highly recommend you set up online giving.
4. Teach one series on giving per year.
If you talk about money too much your congregation becomes anesthetized to what you are saying. In general, people know they are “supposed to give”—they see the offering received every week! Merely telling them or asking them the same way over and over again doesn’t change anything. If you prepare and present, for example, an annual four-week series on biblical stewardship, including tithing, the impact is far greater.
5. Demonstrate wise stewardship.
Giving starts with vision, but continues through good stewardship. Nothing increases trust faster than when the leadership consistently demonstrates wise money management. If you are not great at the financial part of leadership, get some help from a few sharp business leaders in your church.
6. Teach tithing for the benefit of the people, not the church as an organization.
This should be included within your annual financial series, but it deserves special note on its own. Giving is not about money as much as it is about trust. It’s a heart issue more than a wallet issue. Trusting that God will provide for personal needs, and that principles like obedience and gratitude are part of spiritual maturity are of huge benefit to each person.
The results of giving are a major blessing to the individual and far exceed the significance of the church “making budget.” I’m not downplaying or dismissing the church’s need for financial resources, but I’m saying make it personal not organizational.
7. Be bold about tithing with leaders.
Tithing is part of a believer’s spiritual journey. It’s good to be clear and direct, but also be very encouraging with the general congregation when it comes to your teaching on tithing. But when it comes to teaching leaders to tithe, it’s good to be bold. If they are representing the church, carrying spiritual responsibility and commensurate spiritual authority, it needs to be backed by spiritual obedience.
8. Tell stories of life change.
Few things are more inspiring than stories of life change. When your congregation consistently hears these stories, whether you tell them or by video or just a hallway conversation, they are reminded of the vision and what God wants to do through your church. Make baptisms a part of your worship experience, they are some of the best stories ever told!
9. Offer personal financial training.
When we as leaders challenge people to give without equipping them to give, we create a kind of spiritual dissonance. Without knowledge of basic budgeting, debt reduction and personal savings, it’s difficult to embrace consistent giving, let alone tithing. Offer top-notch finance training through small groups and seminars at your church. Financial freedom is a powerful tool to help your people grow!