If you’ve been in ministry for more than two minutes, you know how difficult it can be to talk to your congregation about giving. You might breeze through topics like sin, pride or questioning God, but generosity? No, thank you!
Talking about giving—and money in general—has become almost taboo in many churches. As a pastor, you don’t want to seem greedy or more focused on making the church payroll than saving souls, right? So you avoid the subject altogether.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! You should feel comfortable talking about giving and encouraging your congregation to give more, because God doesn’t shy away from it. The Bible talks about generosity and giving a lot! But it starts with you being willing to speak openly about it.
With that, here are six ways to encourage giving in your congregation.
1. Start with the big picture.
If you struggle to bring up the topics of money or giving, talk about the concept in general without specifying giving to the church (although, in the long run, you shouldn’t shy away from that either). Teach what the Bible says about money. As you progress, you can apply that teaching to your own congregation.
2. Teach by example.
We can’t expect people to give without modeling it in our own lives. Only when we’re generous ourselves can we help people shift their own mindset toward generosity!
Think about it: If you try to tell your members to be generous without showing them what generosity looks like, the message isn’t going to sink in. Why should they give, they’ll think, when the pastor isn’t? Be intentional about modeling this in your own life—and encourage your staff to do the same.
3. Create giving opportunities.
Every church passes the plate and might even hold giving campaigns, but we have to start letting people experience giving in a tangible, emotionally moving way that shows them the impact of their generosity.
Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, has done this well through their monthly giving opportunity called The Dollar Club. Here’s how it works: The church shoots a video to showcase a local need and shows the video during a Sunday service. Then they ask everyone for one dollar toward the cause. After the money’s been collected and given away, the team goes back out to film the impact and shares that video with the congregation. What a way to highlight the power of giving!
These kinds of giving opportunities may feel manufactured and insincere at first, but the more your members practice generosity, the more everyone will want to keep it up. Radical generosity is the most fun you can have with money, after all. Challenge your members to think creatively and dream big!
4. Teach your church why we give.
When it comes to money, we can easily fall into the mind-set that we own every dollar in our bank accounts. But Psalm 24:1 tells us God actually owns it all. Since He is owner of the earth and everything in it, we’re simply managing His stuff for Him. When we give, it’s a reflection of God’s ownership over that money, and it’s praise and worship for His blessings. We open our hands and release our tight grip on the material things of this world and turn our faith toward God. At its core, generosity really is an act of worship.
5. Help members take control of their finances.
Sometimes people don’t give not because they don’t want to. They do! They don’t give because they can’t. They’re hurting so badly financially that they’re living paycheck to paycheck and barely able to keep their lights on. Giving is the furthest thing from their minds.
You definitely have people like this in your church. As their pastor, you can help them get to a place financially where they feel like they have the margin to give. One of most important things you can do is to empower your people with an understanding of how to manage the resources God has entrusted to them. We must teach people to take control of their spending and stick to a budget.
6. Remind members that giving is something you (and God!) want for them, not from them.
This is foundational. Again and again, the Bible emphasizes giving as a gift for us. In the Old Testament, Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” And in Acts 20:35 (NIV) Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” We are most like God when we give, since He is the ultimate giver! And if becoming more Christlike is why we’re even here at all, then giving really is a blessing for the giver.
As a church leader, you want to be faithful with your influence as a shepherd. When you are, God knows He can trust you with more sheep! So influence the sheep you have now by emphasizing the value of giving. Encourage your members to live a life of giving, and give them plenty of opportunities to do that in your church by weaving generosity through every fiber of your congregation. Let God use you in this way!