At some point during the year, despair sets in. Giving is falling behind and expenses are exceeding budget. If something isn’t done soon, next year’s programs will have to be cut. The ship is sinking quickly. But before despair sets in, consider a different way to increase giving. Make giving about God.
For some churches, the initial response is to have the finance chair stand before the congregation to grimly inform the congregation of the impending financial crisis. Pointing to charts showing the steep decline and referencing spreadsheets bleeding red ink, the finance chair tells the congregation to dig deep or else. In addition, weekly bulletin notices of income vs. expenses clearly show the growing deficit (and the box around the notice gets bolder from week to week). Sound familiar?
There is a better way to encourage giving.
Desperation has never been an effective strategy for growing giving. In fact, for many members (and especially visitors) this strategy can have the opposite effect.
One of the most successful and spiritually enriching methods for increasing giving has nothing to do with budgets, buildings, dollars, or cents.
Imagine teaching about giving as a key station on the discipleship path. As children of God, created in God’s image, aren’t we born to be givers? Hasn’t God blessed us immeasurably? What if we understood generosity to mean giving like God has given to us?
Generosity begins with God.
Although finance chairs and pastors might agree on the theological accuracy of this statement, they believe it is impractical for motivating their people. Often the rebuttal is, “But we have to talk budget. We have to let people know how far behind we are or they won’t give.” How has that been working so far?
The most important stewardship verse in the Bible has nothing to do with budgets, building, dollars or cents. The most important stewardship verse is this:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (NRSV)
God loves…God gives…And the world is forever changed! The same is true for us!
We love…We give…And the world is forever changed.
We were created in the image of a loving and generous God. Therefore, we become the people God intended for us to be when we love and give generously. God changes us when we give like God. Imagine your congregation full of people who are becoming the loving and giving people God intended them to become. Imagine the impact of your generosity upon the world.
Ok, you might be behind on the budget. Don’t despair. Don’t focus on budgets, buildings, dollars, and cents. Help people see themselves as born in the image of a loving and generous God. Provide a vision for growing into the generous people God intends for them to become. Give people an opportunity for transformation. In turn, they will transform the world.