Simply put: It takes money to lead a church to experience dynamic spiritual and numerical growth.
However, we 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 giving generously towards 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 Senior Pastors I coach that they will never lead people to do what they themselves are not doing. That’s just a fact. Not only won’t you have any personal stories to share when you preach about trusting God with your finances, you won’t have 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 lots of giving options. At CCV just under 50% 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 moviechurch 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 Communications And Offering Collection Process
Be deliberate about how you communicate and collect 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 forty-five 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 upwards through the congregation.
6. Change Your Financial Management Systems
Review everything you do through the lens of trustworthiness. If you raise the trust level people have in the way their money is handled, they will naturally give more. At CCV 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 scrutinzies, then approves the budget. The toal 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 max spending limit for the following year’s budget.
Expenditures: I do not have check writing authority, and up until three weeks ago 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, overseen by me, is sent to our Finance Team who monitors our financial activity. You might want to check out (or steal) the Executive Limitations Document on the right-hand side of this site to see how my activity as a Senior Pastor at CCV is limited.
GAAP: We follow GAAP in everything – Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Two people are with the money collected in our services at all times 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.
7. Change Your Easter and Christmas Eve Special Offerings
If you don’t have (or massively promote) a church-wide Easter and Christmas special offering, you are robbing your people of some really special opportunities to do something lifechanging with their money. Here’s what we do:
Pick A Compelling Need: Find a need among the international missions you support that people can rally around. Recently we’ve started churches in India and El Salvador, and built homes in Haiti and Guatemala. We always like to pick projects that our own people can be a part of by actually going to the mission field and building the house, or helping start the church, etc.
Set The Goal: Make it realistic, but a stretch.
Set Up Your Online Giving Webpage: Six weeks before the offerings we set up the giving tab “Special Offering” in our online giving options.
Start Casting Vision Six Weeks In Advance: Progressively cast vision from the stage, in emails, and in a letter with a special envelope about why this special project is worthy of their support. Share the need and point people to the webpage where they can give. Here’s the first video we showed to promote this past year’s Christmas Offering.
Get Commitments From Your Staff Ahead Of Time: This past Christmas we had our staff make commitments two weeks before our Christmas offering to fund two houses for families in Haiti. I announced that on Sunday morning.
Tell People They Can Give Anytime Leading Up To That Day: Don’t make people give on that day alone. Have them give immediately. We’ll have people give for 2-3 weeks afterwards as well, that’s how compelling these projects are.
Make A Special Video And/or Presentation To Show That Day: On Christmas Eve and Easter we’ll show a specially prepared video about the need. We’ll play that video, talk a bit about the need, then collect the offering.
Tell People Where Money Given In Excess Of The Goal Goes: Our people know that if money is given beyond the offering’s goal it goes straight into our Capital Campaign, which funds really meaningful projects as well.
Videotape And Celebrate Later In The Year: When our high-schoolers go down to Haiti in August 2015 and build the two homes funded by this past year’s 2014 Christmas Eve offering, we’ll show a video of what happened two weeks later in mid-August 2015. If you do something similar your people will love seeing the fruit of their offerings first-hand.
8. Change Your Stewardship Teaching
Change the way you preach and you’ll change the way people give. I teach on stewardship twice a year: once in November (three to four weeks) and once in June (two weeks max). I always include everything that God teaches regarding financial freedom: debt, savings, tithing, as well as issues of the heart and worship. Recently during the November series we’ve implemented what we call our “90 Day Tithing Challenge.” We challenge people to sign a card committing to tithe for 90 Days, with the guarantee that if they don’t feel God has kept his word regarding how they would be blessed, we’ll return everything they gave during that 90 day period. And no, I’m not a health and wealth preacher. 🙂
9. Change The Way You Connect Giving With Lifechange
Focus on connecting giving with changed lives and watch how that impacts your giving culture. At CCV people regularly hear me say things like, “I’d like to thank those of you who give on a regular basis. We had 700 middle schoolers here last night, and it was a life-changing time. You were a big part of making that happen. Thank you for your sacrifice.” Always look for ways to connect people’s giving with the fruit of their sacrifice.
10. Change The Way You Talk To Leaders
When you meet with potential leaders do you challenge them to tithe? I don’t spend too much time one-on-one with a leader at CCV before I’m digging into their life, and looking for ways to challenge that person to be more fully committed to Christ. Family, biblical knowledge, evangelism, relationships, sexuality, health, time, work, and money top the list. When appropriate, I lovingly challenge people to get out of debt, tithe, and save for the future. I do that with the same focus and intensity I talk about their marriage and work. I won’t know what that person gives, if anything at all, but I’ll “go there anyway” just to reinforce “you can’t love both God and money.” Because I don’t do it in a creepy, manipulative way, people appreciate me bringing it up and pushing them towards maturity in Christ.
Do you have any best practices you’ve gleaned that have helped your people become more generous?