In my more than 40 years of ministry, I have never heard a pastor say he/she has more money than the church needs. I have certainly found pastors who shared that their people were very generous or that they had out-given their budget, but never that they had too much. The mission is too big and the need is too great to not always need more. Yet every year I come across dozens of pastors and laypeople who are doing things that absolutely reduce church giving.
Are you doing things right now that are unintentionally reducing giving in your congregation?
Here are my top five:
1. Emphasizing numerical targets versus missional objectives.
I have seen so many pastors encourage their people to give “an increase,” “do 3 percent more,” or “help us balance the budget.” The facts are that people today just do not care whether you achieve some arbitrary target or not. They want their gift to have impact and change lives. Spend your energy sharing with people how their giving to the church will make the world a better place.
2. Publishing church giving figures in the bulletin and/or newsletter.
This sends a signal to all that this is what you really are about. You are wanting to bring in more than you send out. It says nothing about your mission and it usually appears to reflect an unhealthy church because you are behind for the year. The fact is, 90 percent of all churches are behind until December. It is normal, not a sign of impending death. Just stop doing it.
3. Using a line item budget to communicate with the congregation.
There is nothing about a line item budget that helps your people understand what you are truly doing in ministry. From appearances, it seems that all that you are supporting are some people and a building. Line item budgets should be used only by the finance people. Distribute a missional budget to the congregation.
4. Apologizing or joking prior to delivering sermons on money.
When Moses came down from the mountain and saw the golden calf that the people had made to worship, he did not make a joke about it or apologize for what he was about to say. He was forceful and direct and they knew he meant what he was saying. There was no misunderstanding that he considered this a very serious matter. They had put worshipping a golden calf ahead of worshipping God.
Your people are doing this every day that they choose money over God. It is a big deal. People need your help to give up that which they love more than God. Quit acting like it really doesn’t matter.
5. Thinking that “not knowing” what people give is a righteous act.
For some reason, pastors believe that people will think more of them if they deny themselves knowledge of individual gifts. This behavior will keep you from putting the right people in leadership, being able to diagnosis spiritual health in persons, and thanking people when they truly need and often expect thanks.
Now, go forth and quit doing those things that hurt the Kingdom!