6 Solutions to Remove Giving Limits in Your Church

Leadership // May 20, 2015

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.

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?

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.

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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?
If you answered no, now is a great time to start the creation of that resource for your people. Define the specific steps on the path, and challenge everyone to continually grow, moving to a new place on the journey. (Looking for help on this? Check my blog post about next steps.)

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.

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.

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. Just drop me an email.

I’m excited about “Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Generosity” – my latest e-book coming out soon. Be sure to stay tuned, and you’ll be the first to know when the e-book is available in just a few weeks!

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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