As the pandemic’s reality set in during the early months of 2020, many pastors were understandably struck with concern over the future of their church. Certainly, the ministry of the church was first and foremost on their minds. Questions loomed: How would we gather? How would we disciple? How would we reach our community?
But as the ministry questions swirled through their minds, another question entered: What would our finances look like? Most assumed a significant decrease in giving. Some had an even worse prediction—their church’s doors would shut for good.
However, as the pandemic settled in and churches moved online, something surprising happened—some churches began reporting increased giving. How did this happen? Was there something they did differently, and can it be replicated?
Through many conversations and observations, it was found that these churches adjusted their in-service communication about generosity. Assuming an almost certain decline in giving and a move to online services, they felt that now was the time to try a different approach. Here’s what they did:
During the service, they took time to discuss generosity. It wasn’t just a moment to get through, a quick prayer and passing of the plates. They intentionally carved out minutes during the service to talk and teach about biblical generosity. Taking time to talk and teach about generosity gave members a moment to actually reflect on their hearts and minds regarding their giving.
During the service, they explained the impact of giving. They communicated that giving to the church wasn’t just about keeping the lights on, but reaching their community and world for Christ. They regularly mentioned that when someone gives, they are a part of something much larger than themselves, even in the midst of a pandemic.
During the service, they explained the practical, financial needs of the church. Let me be clear—keeping the lights on is important. Many ministers explained the uphill financial battle that the church was facing, highlighting the practical importance of giving. Members appreciated the transparency and responded accordingly.
During the service, they explained how someone can give. For many churches that went online during the pandemic, removing the in-person giving option forced ministers to figure out how to clearly articulate the digital giving process. This clear explanation gave members a greater confidence regarding giving online and provided a way to immediately respond to the call to give.
They have provided several different avenues through which a person can give. While online giving was the primary means through which giving occurred, it was not exclusively so. Churches also leveraged text-to-give and other ways through which a person could give. Their goal was to break down any barriers that may hinder a person’s giving.
Have some churches experienced a decrease in giving? Certainly. But there are churches that are defying expectations and watching their members give even more generously. For some of these churches, it boils down to communication—communicating about biblical generosity, the impact of giving, the needs faced by the church, and the ways in which a person can financially participate in God’s mission through their local church.