There are three main topics that society unspokenly says you shouldn’t bring up in conversation: religion, politics, and money. When it comes to the church, we often apply this same unspoken rule, especially when it comes to money.
Imagine this scenario:
you have been inviting a friend to come to church with you for weeks. They seemed to always have an excuse or another, but somehow everything fell into place for them to finally attend church with you.
You sit down, so excited they finally get to see what they’ve been missing, and the pastor finally takes the mic.
“Good morning church. Today we are starting a series on giving!”
Cringe. This is not how you imagined your friend experiencing your church for the first time.
For most of us, this seems like the worst-case scenario because, truly, talking about giving doesn’t seem very enjoyable. We love to go to church, hear about God’s love, drop a few dollars in the offering plate, and go on our merry way.
Why does the topic of giving seem to be one we just like to gloss over?
Why is one we try to avoid at all costs?
Why do we deem it not worth talking about too much or else we are viewed as “being pushy”?
We know it's necessary for the church to exist and all that, but... can’t we just talk about something else?
Giving doesn’t need to be a cringe-worthy topic of principle in our churches. Rather, we can view it in a new light as one of our greatest acts of worship as believers.
Many churches have a healthy mindset on giving and generosity, but many of us have a long way to go.
We want to outline the 7 deadly sins of church giving to help you view giving differently, grow a heart of generosity in your congregation, and even begin to see an increase in your church giving!
1. Just… not talking about it
One of the most obvious mistakes we can make in the church is to dodge the topic of giving altogether. This is a very rare occurrence, but it is still worth addressing.
Sometimes instead of facing a big topic head-on, we find ourselves retreating and wanting to avoid the topic altogether. This usually happens in churches around giving because we don’t want to be seen as being “too pushy” on the topic, so we just don’t talk about it.
Avoiding something never made anything better. The best solution to this problem is for churches to understand the why behind the what.
Why do we give?
What is the purpose of giving?
Where is the value in generosity?
By answering these questions, the odds of avoiding the big topic will be less likely. When there is a purpose behind what you are doing, you can’t help but talk about it.
2. Making it about duty and not about heart
The principle of the tithe is something believers all around the world practice regularly. The word “tithe” actually means “tenth” and refers to the obligatory offering in the law of Moses, which required the Jewish nation to give 10 percent of their first fruits. This includes money, resources, cattle, you name it.
The purpose behind the tithe was to return to God what He has given to the Israelites. It was an offering of thanks, but it was also a religious obligation. Nowadays, believers have two polarizing opinions about tithing:
1. The tithe is to be taken absolutely literal
2. The tithe doesn’t apply to the new covenant & Jesus’s followers.
Doing something out of obligation doesn’t seem to work that well anyway:
- 37% of regular church attendees and Evangelicals don’t give money to the church
- Only 5% tithe, and 80% of Americans only give 2% of their income.
- Christians are giving 2.5% of income; during the Great Depression it was 3.3%.
Both of these opinions miss the point of what giving is supposed to be about. Giving is not about duty; it is about the heart. We can argue all day on whether we should give 10% or 30%, but it really comes down to is all giving should come from the heart.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7.
When we give cheerfully, out of the abundance of our heart, God is well pleased with our offering. We can see this very evident in Mark 12. Jesus was at the temple and was observing
the many people giving to the temple treasury. A ton of richer people were giving large amounts of money, but out of the crowd came a poor widow.
The offering she gave consisted of just 2 small copper coins. Jesus saw this and deemed that though she gave little, she gave the most because it was all she had to live on.
The trust this woman must have had to know that God would provide all of her needs is powerful. It shows that giving is not about how little or how much, but it is about our heart towards God and how much we trust Him to provide for us no matter what.
3.Not learning by example
In the grand scheme of things, society (especially in America) is a lot more philanthropic than you’d think. People love to give to charities and nonprofit organizations they believe in. In fact, 3 out of 4 people who don’t go to church make donations to nonprofit organizations.
Why is it that giving to churches doesn’t seem to be as popular of a practice?
The parents of Gen Z and Millennials alike grew up in the times where tithing and giving were centered around religious piety. As we just discussed, giving is most powerful when it is done from a cheerful heart, not out of obligation.
Many young people don’t really understand the value of giving to church because they either have not been taught or they have not been given an example of what giving looks like.
When our parents or elders don’t have a trust/worship mindset around their giving, it makes it a bit less motivating for younger generations to want to give too. They need to have a reason behind why they should contribute financially.
Just as with their consumerism, they are not content to just throw their money wherever it lands. There needs to be a purpose behind their contribution.
We can remedy this by educating all generations not about the principle of giving but the heart of giving. Revealing the “why” behind the “what” helps people to better understand the part they are playing in the life of the church.
4. Treating giving as separate from “worship time”
Generally speaking, contemporary church services usually follow a similar format: greeting, worship, giving, message, closing song, the end.
Giving usually lies smack dab in the middle of church services and is usually marked by someone coming on stage, giving a short blurb about giving, and then moving onto the message. Giving is not a separate section of service. Rather it is a continuation of worship!
This principle of giving to God is found all throughout the Old and New Testaments and often points back to the blessings that come when we do give. Don’t get it twisted – we don’t give in order to be blessed, we give because God “has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 3:1).
We give to God because it builds our faith in Jesus and helps us trust Him even more. We have the privilege to give because God has already given us everything! Our reasonable act of worship is to return to God, as an offering, what belongs to Him anyway.
In addition to all of this, God instructs us to test Him in the area of generosity!
Malachi 3:10 says this: “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’”
5. Lack of transparency
One of the major pitfalls that can drastically affect church giving for congregant members and visitors alike is a lack of financial transparency.
When people make financial contributions to any organization, they want to be ensured that their money is being used to impact and help others.
Being completely transparent about church finances helps to build trust with donors, make the mission of the church clear, and to be able to project financial goals in the future within the community.
Practically, churches can opt to share quarterly financial reports on their website or via email to their givers. It is a win-win for both the community contributors and the church as a whole.
6. Absence of personal testimonies
We can talk about the principles of giving and highlight verses on generosity all day long, but there is still a piece of the puzzle that is missing.
Let’s take the Gospel, for example. We can tell people all of the verses about Jesus we want, but often what really wins people over is the Gospel of Jesus alive in another person. Sharing our testimony of how God saved us and changed our lives can make a huge impact compared to just spouting off a few verses.
People want to know that Jesus is more than just a theological benchmark; they want to know He is a real, living person who radically changes everything.
The same concept goes with giving. People want to know that generosity can actually impact their life in a noticeable way. They want to know that giving your money is so much more than that; it is an act of trust that God honors when it is done with a cheerful heart.
There are stories of people who were overwhelmed with medical debt, yet gave, and had a check show up in the mail the next day. Some people gave the last of their paycheck and had someone cover all of their utilities the next week.
These stories are available in abundance in the lives of people who saw God respond to their acts of generosity. These are the stories that move generosity from an obligation to being an act of worship and faith!
Search for these stories and allow these people to share them! Stories of God’s faithfulness change our hearts and incline us to want to experience the same thing.
7. Making it too complicated
We live in a highly digital world. With the technological advancements available to us, and the transition out of utilizing physical money, credit and debit card giving is much more prevalent. In fact, 49% of allchurch-givingg transactions are made with a card.
This switch affects the ways we give in church as well! The days of passing around the giving basket are slowly fading away, and online giving is becoming the new norm.
Many church veterans may be a bit hesitant to stop giving cash and start giving online, but the statistics show that online giving is only going to increase, which is a good thing for increasing giving. Churches that accept tithing online increase overall donations by 32%!
Part of the reason that giving may be low, especially in younger generations, is that we make it too complicated. If you ask anyone 25 or under, they don’t frequently have cash. But you know what they always have on them? Their smartphone!
Giving should be simple and straightforward and online giving makes this possible. There are dozens of fantastic online church giving platforms you can utilize for your church. There are also giving options you can include on your church app and even “text to give” options as well.
Online giving allows donors to make recurring donations, give straight from their phone, and access their giving statements in a pinch. These are options that simply don’t exist when we just toss a few bucks in the giving container.
Giving in churches should not be an obligation we must follow but rather it is a privilege that believers in Jesus get to partake in. Rather than avoiding this topic altogether, we should embrace the biblical blessings of giving, hear the stories of those impacted by generosity, and see that giving is an act of trust in Jesus.
When we focus on these aspects of giving and make it simple for contributors to actually contribute, we will see the heart of generosity grow in our communities and as a result see an uprise in our giving!
If you’re ready to increase your church giving, having a comprehensive digital strategy can help you start. Pro MediaFire and Pro WebFire have come together to help your church with our special Church Growth Plan so you can save time, save money, and crush it online with a digital growth bundle.