Growing Generous Givers
I never preach on giving or ask for money," I once told a fellow pastor. "I just leave it up to the people."
"Do you teach your people to study the Bible?" he asked.
"Of course," I said.
"Do you teach them to pray?"
"If you taught your people to give in a biblical manner, would they receive more or less blessing from God?"
I sat in silence. I realized I was hurting my people, not helping them. In addition, our church was in severe financial stress.
When I went home, I committed myself to teach all of God's Word, including giving. In the years since, I have seen God work in our church in amazing ways, and he has brought our people to new levels of maturity.
Here are 12 principles I've learned about growing givers.
A Full-Orbed Approach
Often church leaders work countless hours planning how to limit spending, but they focus little attention on how to increase giving. We succeed where we focus our time and energy.
1. Plan ahead
To be effective, we must prepare for our resource development strategy as carefully as we do for our music program.
The biggest reason capital stewardship campaigns increase offerings by more than 50 percent is not the new building, but the church's thoughtful strategy. Churches can attain similar results every year without a building project. In my first church, when I implemented a thorough plan, offerings increased by more than 20 percent in one year.
A good plan includes:
- a specific strategy to communicate positive stewardship all year long;
- an annual stewardship emphasis;
- instruction on finances in new-members classes;
- continual communication of a compassionate vision;
- biblical teaching on giving;
- personal testimonies;
- an annual church-wide resource development emphasis;
- annual commitment cards;
- specific giving projects;
- practical help in how to fulfill commitments;
- keeping healthy relationships in the church.
2. Emphasize discipleship
God has supplied three resources necessary for fruitful ministry:
- human resources
- divine resources--such as prayer
- physical resources--such as buildings and money
How we develop each of these determines the success of our ministries.
Effective resource development is not a money grab. It has a spiritual foundation that makes discipleship its primary goal. The key to resource development is growth in people.
3. Bathe in prayer
Without prayer a financial program loses its spiritual foundation. We begin our stewardship focus with a call to prayer. We hold special prayer times and conduct a 24-hour prayer service. When we pray, God softens hearts, cleans up attitudes, changes lives, clarifies priorities, and opens checkbooks.
4. Identify specific goals
People don't like to spend more unless they get more. Therefore we wishlist new projects that increased giving will buy. This builds ownership.
Early in the budget process, we ask all leaders to make a wish list of new ministries or purchases for their area. Our leadership team then determines approximate costs for each request and develops ...