“It takes money to lead a church to experience dynamic spiritual and numerical growth.”
It takes money to lead a church to experience dynamic spiritual and numerical growth.
However, senior pastors have to approach this topic with the right heart (to serve our people rather than manipulate them) and with the right motivation (to help our people become financially free so they can collectively support the Great Commission worldwide).
Without the right heart and motivation in place, what you’ll read below will come across as simple fundraising tactics. That, of course, is not my intent. My prayer is that through your leadership, the full resources of your congregation will be joyfully released to fuel evangelistic and benevolent outreach worldwide.
With this proper perspective in mind, here are 10 things you can do right now that will help increase the offerings in the church.
1. Change your perspective.
Stop feeling awkward about leading your congregation to be generous. Helping people get out of debt, save for the future, begin tithing and give generously toward compelling kingdom projects is one of the many awesome things we get to do as senior pastors. I enjoy talking about money because I know how changing financial habits transforms people and families.
2. Change your own giving habits.
Start tithing. I tell the pastors I coach that they will never lead people to do what they themselves are not doing. That’s just a fact. Not only will you not have any personal stories to share when you preach about trusting God with your finances, you won’t have the passion to teach others about giving in the first place. Of course there will always be mistakes, tough patches and the like, but make today a new day and recommit yourself to tithing and watch what happens.
3. Change the ways people can give.
Give people plenty of giving options. At our church, just under 50 percent of all gifts are given OUTSIDE of the offering basket in the worship service. If a snowstorm hits, our offerings are still pretty solid. It’s all about making giving as convenient as possible for people.
Here are five things you should put in place right now:
- Offering Envelope. We put self-addressed offering envelopes inside every bulletin at church. On the inside flap people can indicate to which account they would like to give—to the general fund or capital campaign.
- Online Giving. When we started offering online giving, our offerings immediately shot up, and remained consistent. The giving button is placed prominently on our website’s homepage, and the webpage is easy enough to share from the stage: “If you’d like to give, you can go to first church dot com, forward slash give.” About three times a year, we’ll share with people the benefits of giving online—setting up recurring gifts, printing giving statements, etc. We use Church Community Builder as the portal for all our online activity.
- Payroll/Employer/Bank Drafts. A significant number of our people have their giving taken out of their paychecks, or have checks dispersed from their baking accounts. Both are then automatically mailed to the church office.
- Phone App. We’ve seen small, but increasing giving through our church’s phone app. We have a giving button on it so people can click and give right away. We used Aware3 to create and host our app. We’re pleased with it. You can find it by searching “moviechurch” in the App Store or Google Play.
- Brokerage Account. When we opened a brokerage account and publicized it, we began receiving large gifts of stock, mostly at the end of the year.
4. Change your stage communication and collection process.
Be deliberate about how you communicate and collect tithes and offerings in your services. We spend a few minutes teaching on stewardship before we receive an offering. We always talk about how giving is an act of worship. Practically speaking, we also tell people they can give online, through the app or in the service. We also give people 45 seconds of undistracted time by not immediately starting a song, video, etc. before the ushers come down the aisles. People need time to fill out a check or fill out their credit card information on the inside flap of the giving envelope.
5. Change your staff and/or governing board’s commitment to giving.
Challenge everyone on your team to give and watch what happens. We require everyone on our staff to tithe, and no one makes it onto our leadership team unless they’re tithing, as well. Speed of the leaders, speed of the entire team. Generosity begins at the bottom and moves upward through the congregation.
6. Change your financial-management systems.
Review everything you do through the lens of trustworthiness. If you raise people’s trust for how their money is handled, they will naturally give more. At our church, people give sacrificially because we continually share how we handle the three core aspects of our financial management process:
- Budgeting. Our leadership team sets the total budget amount for the following year. The staff creates the budget, not to exceed that total. My executive pastor and I finalize the budget. The finance team and leadership team scrutinize, then approve the budget. The total amount of what was given the previous year is what we use as the budgeted income figure for the following year. That means if $500,000 was given this year, then $500,000 will become the spending limit for the following year’s budget.
- Expenditures. I do not have check-writing authority, and up until recently I didn’t even know where the offerings were deposited on Sunday morning. I can only authorize spending for things that are budgeted. We have a policy in place that lowers spending if giving decreases. A sheet of all expenses paid by our finance manager, led by our executive pastor and overseen by me is sent to our finance team, which monitors our financial activity. You might want to check out (or steal) this “Executive Limitations” document to see how my activity as a senior pastor at our church is limited.
- GAAP. We follow GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) in everything. There are always two people who are with the money collected in our services until it is deposited into our on-site safe. Two people remove the money. Two people count the money. Our part-time finance manager, who oversees the day-to-day processing of bills and payment, does not have the authority to sign the checks she writes. Members are welcome to sit down with our executive pastor and review all aspects of our financial process at any time. Those who have are blown away by how tight and secure our processes are, and how much gets done with what is given.