I’m glad to welcome to LifeWay Pastors Dr. Sam S. Rainer. Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research and the co-founder and co-owner of Rainer Publishing.
How can you equip your congregation to give generously? Here are seven items to consider.
- Teach why sacrificial giving is necessary for God’s mission. If what you are giving does not change your lifestyle, then it’s not sacrificial. Not all giving is sacrificial, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Leaving a great tip is generous, but the extra $20 doesn’t change how you live. God’s mission requires a body of believers to give in such a way that it changes them. Sacrificial giving must be taught in all areas of the church: Weekend worship gatherings, in small groups, in the new member’s class, and even in your children and student ministries.
- Celebrate the story of your church’s giving. Few people remember financial figures. Most people remember stories. Few in your church could quote the weekly budget requirements from memory, but most will remember a powerful story of sacrificial giving. Let people know every week about a ministry in the church. Thank the church for supporting this ministry through the offering. Not only do you communicate the importance of sacrificial giving, it’s also a time to promote ministries in the church.
- Establish multiple giving channels. Your church should have multiple ways for people to give. Some prefer to give online. For example, a business person may travel a couple of times a month but does not want to miss out on the opportunity to give weekly. Others like the consistency and simplicity of automatic deductions. Given the prevalence of smart phones, many will want to give through a mobile app. Other people prefer mailed envelopes because they have created a discipline of sacrificial giving through a regular Sunday morning routine. I doubt many pastors would say a Bible reading plan is only relevant at certain times or on certain days with a particular translation. The same goes for sacrificial giving.
- Create a personal connection with the mission. You cannot expect a church to give without creating a compelling vision of why. And people will never know why they should give unless you connect them with the local and global efforts of your church. Without a personal connection to the outward movement of the gospel, it’s unlikely your church will see increases in sacrificial giving.
- Set meaningful goals. “We need to increase giving 5% next year” is not a meaningful goal because there is no reason to give other than a desire for more money. Here is a better, more meaningful goal: “Our giving needs to increase by 5% because the church plans to send more on mission and invest more in local ministry.”
- Put a system of accountability in place. Be transparent and intentional with your financial goals and systems. Let everyone know how this accountability takes place. And stick to it—no exceptions! You should also have consistent reporting mechanisms, such as regular financial statements given to the congregation. Never violate the confidentiality of individual giving, and set clear guidelines for who can see what in the giving records. A violation of trust in this area will hit the mission of your church like a wrecking ball.
- Produce financial statements everyone can understand. A good system of accountability will be most beneficial to the church if the majority of people can understand your financial statements. Use plain language for budget line items. Create easy-to-read and clean statements. If you need an accounting degree to understand your financial statements, then redo them. People will not trust something they don’t understand, so help your church understand the way they finance God’s mission.
Giving patterns in churches are changing. The ways in which people give are changing. What does not need to change is the heart for sacrificial giving. Indeed, kingdom work depends upon sacrificial giving rooted in a deep love for the gospel. Large or small, every church can be a resource giant for God’s kingdom. Rich or poor, every Christian can give sacrificially.
This article was originally posted at SamRainer.com, and is used with permission.