“It’s only a money issue.”
Those were the wise words spoken by Ron, a 50-something elder serving on a church board where I was Lead Pastor. His comment seemed flippant, insensitive, untimely and yet wonderfully helpful. His point was that we were witnessing God’s blessings in many areas of our church family—things that only God can accomplish no matter what resources a church has in its coffers. We were watching the Spirit move and the Gospel taking root in individual lives, in our corporate life and by regenerating dead souls into redeemed followers of Jesus. A church cannot buy baptisms, renewed marriages, repentant hearts and church unity. Only the Spirit can do that. The problem was that we did not have the available cash to pay our fixed expenses. A shortage of money was the only issue, as Ron explained, but it was a big issue for us at the time. God broke through and provided after we acknowledged all that He was doing among the church.
I recently engaged The Rocket Company. I had experience with their Preaching Rocket branch but was not aware of their branch called Giving Rocket. Their mission is to help churches to have more money for ministry. Can I get a witness? Casey Graham, their founder outlined some helpful and practical steps for any church planter to consider. The company surveyed 100 churches for their study on how to increase giving. I am sharing some of their thoughts here for your encouragement.
Three Practical Ways to Increase Giving in Your Church
1. Make it easy for people to give.
Giving Rocket strongly encourages all churches to have an online giving option. They stated that in some churches 50-70% of all gifts are given online. The church where I serve receives over 50% of all their income through online giving.
Online giving provides an opportunity for people to invest in the ministry of the church at any time the Spirit prompts and not just in a worship gathering. What if bad weather or a major holiday interferes with your ability to gather and receive an offering? What ministry will be affected negatively if the income dips during a holiday weekend?
Make the ‘Giving’ button on your website easy to find. Some churches play “Where’s Waldo” with this option, hoping that they do not appear needy. Put it in the upper right hand corner. Make it easy and fast to give. Don’t try to conduct a survey within your giving option. Make the options easy, clear and simple.
Younger people prefer to give digitally. Many people do not carry much cash, if any. I do not have a male friend that carries a checkbook (or even knows where it is). That may just be a testament to the kind of friends with whom I run!
Giving Rocket has never heard of anyone who got into credit card debt because they gave too much! A church that provides a credit or debit card option is not contributing to the financial ruin of its constituents. In the US, an overwhelming percentage of all purchases are made with credit or debit cards. A cost to the ministry is certainly incurred with the use of cards. It is the cost of doing business in today’s world. I use an ACH option with my church so that they get 100% of the gift, but I do it online.
Automate the Important. The Rocket Company stresses to provide an easy option to make the donor’s gift a recurring, monthly or weekly gift through automatic withdrawal of their debit, credit or checking account. You are not gouging them; you are helping them to do what they desire as a good steward. Jesus said, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Or it could be said, “The spirit is willing to be generous, but remembering and then finding my checkbook on Sunday morning is impossible!”
2. Say thank you.
The Rocket Company’s research concluded that only 9 out of the 100 churches to whom they donated sent a personal correspondence acknowledging their gift. Leadership trainer John E. Jones said, “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.” In our highly technological world, two things are true: 1) It is very easy to send an automated thank you for gifts given and 2) Because it is easy, a handwritten thank you card makes an even greater impression after a sacrificial or first-time gift.
3. Provide contribution statements to the donors.
The donor may have intended to give more, but missed. The quarterly or annual statements assist them to monitor their giving to what the Spirit is leading them to do for the mission of the church. Some churches have a vehicle for the donor to go online and quickly see how much and when they have given.
I believe that missions and church planting is the bridge between the church and money. Church = (Missions, Church Planting) = Money. People make choices about what to do with their money. The mission of God is the most compelling reason to invest in a ministry. As a pastor, you don’t have to be ashamed to ask for money—only if you do not have a vision for how it is to be invested into the Kingdom for God’s glory. Once they decide to give to that vision, 1) make the process easy, 2) say thank you as much as possible and 3) provide a monitoring system for your donors.