Giving is perhaps the best spiritual tool we have in our inventory – and often the most ignored. As a result, many church leaders find themselves in a giving rut, stuck in habits and routines that limit the generosity of their people. (We talked about those habits in my last post.)
But today I’d like to focus on the solutions. What can church leaders do when they find themselves stuck in routines that actually work against growing the generosity of their church? I’d like to propose six solutions to get you started.
1. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO IMPLEMENT CHANGE. SLOWLY.
When you realize you need to make a change, the first thing to do is give yourself permission. Change things up when they need to be changed. But do it slowly. Gradually.
Pick one thing and begin working on it now. For you, that might mean giving philosophy, next steps, mobile giving, teaching or preaching calendar, or data analysis. What will this one thing be for you?
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE.
How well do you know the people of your church? Start by trying to better understand the subsets within your congregation, from non-givers to generous givers, millennials to baby boomers.
Another help would be to redefine your language. The word “tithe” has lost its meaning. Many don’t know what it means. People will say, “I tithe 3%.” But you and I know you can’t do that! So, redefine that language for them. (This is especially important with younger people and the unchurched.)
Millennials are generous people by nature, but they are less loyal in their giving than boomers. They will give where they see their gifts making a difference (which makes connecting the dots between giving and ministry impact crucial). The boomers often give to the church out of obedience, but you won’t find the same loyalty with younger generations.
So consider different motivations for giving – obedience, faith, freedom, gratitude, and benevolence to mention a few. Turn on light bulbs for your people – get them to think about giving in different ways.
Do your people know their next step on the generosity pathway? Do you have a generosity pathway implemented in your church to help guide people from step to step?
4. RECALIBRATE GIVING TO DISCIPLESHIP AND MISSION.
It’s important to understand the four internal decisions a giver goes through to engage financially with your church:
- I choose to give because I see personal benefit to me – this is good for me spiritually. Giving loosens the grip of idols in my life. I need to do this. It’s about my relationship with Christ.
- Wow – my church is doing amazing stuff! (Which means they know what you’re doing.) The vision and mission are compelling, risky, and God-honoring.
- I want to be part of it – I get to do this!
- I’m equipped to know how to do this financially. I’ve been coached on how to engage and I’ve heard stories from others to help lead me there.
5. AUDIT YOUR GIVING SYSTEMS.
Is your generosity culture “church centric” or “giver centric”? Your answer to that question either enhances or restricts your giving culture. Here are a couple ideas to test out for yourself.
- Review your offering introductions and what occurs as the offering is received. This is a critical time in the worship service as it relates to giving. Don’t blow it! Don’t minimize it!
- Test your online giving portal as a guest. How many clicks did you make from start to finish? If more than three, you’re likely having guests and first-time givers opt out before completing your giving process.
- Try your online giving system from your smart phone and tablet. Is the page mobile friendly and easy to read? Is it easy to navigate? If not, get with your webmaster to have it fixed. Everything is going mobile.
Much of the content in these solutions will be covered in much more depth in my newest e-book which is coming soon.
6. AUDIT YOUR GIVER STEWARDSHIP.
The last solution to the ceilings that limit generosity addresses your stewardship of the givers in your church. Here are a few considerations to make.
- Send giving statements quarterly, and with a cover letter. Personalize them and send them to givers and non-givers.
- First-time givers should receive a thank you note or letter personalized for them. Consider giving those names of first-time givers to your small group pastor. These are people saying, “I’m in,” so they may appreciate an invitation to join a small group. Be intentional and proactive.
- Address lapsed givers. This is almost always a pastoral opportunity – when giving declines, slows, or stops, it is usually a sign of something significant happening in the giver’s life. Many of these are cause for a pastoral conversation.
- Understand who your surplus givers are, and engage them. This is one of the most undiscipled groups in many churches! View this as ministry for the senior pastor.
- Know your data. I’d be happy to help you in this area with a free giving analysis. Using your very own church’s data and an amazing tool called Insights by Generis, powered by MortarStone, you will discover your church’s giving potential (and a literal host of other valuable things). Sign up for your free analysis today!
I’m excited about “Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Generosity” - my latest e-book coming out soon. Be sure to stay tuned by listing your email address below, and you’ll be the first to know when the e-book is available in just a few weeks!