Why is it that when a collection plate circles at church, people easily grab cash or tap a donation into their smartphones, but when a pastor speaks honestly about church giving, people squirm?
Offerings, tithing, weekly collections – they’re all part of the ritual of church. By and large, church members recognize its importance, but to talk about it? That’s hard!
Still, church leaders need to be able to engage their congregants in open, honest discussion about church giving. But how?
Instead of trying to give the right fundraising sermon that doesn’t make people groan, think about how to create a church culture that sees fundraising not as “that uncomfortable money talk” but as an integral part of enabling the church’s good works.
1. Talk about Your Mission, not Your Budget
In genuine efforts to be transparent, many churches speak openly about their budget. While this practice shouldn’t be eliminated, don’t let your efforts to discuss how money is distributed substitute your discussions on how this money supports your mission.
For example, if part of your church’s ministry is a preschool program, which provides quality early childhood education, then talk about how funds directed to that ministry enabled it to accomplish certain positive outcomes. What were its successes? What new programs were implemented? Why is this beneficial?
Describing church giving in terms of advancing your church’s mission will help your congregants see fundraising in terms of an impact, not mere monetary transactions.
2. Tell Real-Life Stories
Storytelling is an effective strategy in fundraising, and it can be just as effective in cultivating a community that is comfortable talking about church giving. When congregants hear sermons about the need for donations, they will squirm because they feel like they’re simply getting pumped for cash. No one likes that feeling.
However, if sermons tell a story of a person or place that was significantly helped because of church members’ generosity, congregants will be more inclined to see the value of church giving. They’ll feel a greater sense of compassion toward the people or place in the story. They’ll feel empowered, because they made an impact.
Plus, they’ll be more inclined to ask questions or get more information – i.e., talk about it! – later. Most importantly, these stories will give congregants a sense of belonging to a community that affects real change.
3. Teach Younger Generations
Bring up younger generations that are comfortable talking about church giving by involving them in the process. Sunday school teachers can help children see the spiritual side of church giving by engaging them in activities that focus on generosity.
If a church ministry feeds homeless people dinner, have children help prepare the cafeteria and supplies, which church donations paid for. During special offering campaigns, children can participate by making promotional posters and banners, passing around collection plates during church services, or writing and delivering short paragraphs about why it’s important to give. In this way, children will be raised feeling like church giving is a natural, comfortable part of life.
The greatest take-away from these three strategies is this: together, they remove the focus of the individual in church giving and place it on the community. When congregants are focused not on, “Great, they’re asking me for money again,” but instead on, “We can join together to make a difference,” they will feel more motivated to join the conversation and take action.